#18 Boudin

Crawfish, gumbo, and jambalaya may get all the glory when it comes to Acadian cuisine, but there is no more uniquely Cajun food than boudin. A simple food, boudin consists of cooked pork scraps, rice, onions, and seasoning stuffed into pig intestines. Nowadays, most places substitute pig intestines for artificial sausage casings, so the squeamish need not worry.

Boudin has a long history in Cajun culture, and can be traced as far back as the early 1800s, when French fur trapper Toussaint Charbonneau whipped up a batch of buffalo boudin for the famous exploring team Lewis and Clark. The boudin we know and love today is a result of poor Cajun families finding a use for the leftover scraps of pork and intestines after a boucherie (community hog slaughter). Boudin slowly evolved over the years, with each family refining and passing their secret recipes down to future generations.

One of the best things about boudin is that it’s a people’s food: simple, delicious, inexpensive, and portable. Sold by the link at convenience stores and local meat markets, and wrapped in thick white butchers paper, boudin is the Cajun man’s answer to the burrito. It’s the ultimate food for the Coonass who’s on the run. And Cajun’s don’t care where their boudin comes from either. Whether it’s from a fine restaurant (not likely), or the back of a gas station, all that matters is the end result. In a way, boudin is the ultimate in Cajun culinary meritocracy.

Boudin can be eaten in two ways: you can squeeze the boudin stuffing into your mouth with your fingers or teeth, or depending on the consistency of your link’s casing, you can bite into it like a sausage, casing and all. Either way, expect your hands end up greasy, so keep some napkins close by. And if you don’t have time for all dat mess, you can order up a batch of boudin balls, which are tiny rolled balls of boudin, deep fat fried, served piping hot. They’re like little Cajun donut holes, you can just pop them in your mouth.

Now fights have been known to break out over which boudin is the best. Cajun people defend their favorite links the same way most people defend their favorite football team. We usually tend to favor our home team and not some foreign store that’s 10 miles away. We also argue about all the different boudin qualities: spicy vs mild, crisp vs chewy casing, liver vs no liver, and the rice to meat ratio. Luckily, we’ve got an objective resources to help us decide. The Boudin Link, a comprehensive guide to the boudin of Acadiana, reviews and scores all of the major boudin outlets in Acadiana.  Another great read is The Southern Boudin Trail, which contains several interviews with some of the area’s top boudiniers.

Unfortunately, decent boudin is almost impossible to get outside of Cajun country. Sure, some major grocery chains sell vacuum packed boudin, but trust me, it’s just not the same. Next time you’re home visiting your family, don’t forget to stop by your local neighborhood convenience store, and fill up an ice chest with your favorite links.

Becoming an Honorary Cajun

The Golden Crawfish

Feeling a bit left out reading these posts? Have you been living in Cajun country for the last few years, but still don’t quite fit in? Well what you need to do is become an Honorary Cajun Citizen. It’s like being knighted, only better, and your only civic duties are to attend Mardis Gras, the Crawfish Festival, and any event that provides free beer and entertainment.

Requirements:

  • Can you speak French? Neither can most of us. It is, however, mandatory to know at least 5 Cajun swear words. Extra points will be given for creativity.
  • Peel at least 20 crawfish per minute, or cpm. Bonus if you suck the heads.
  • You sprinkle your conversations with keeyaw and chére.
  • You can cook an acceptable gumbo, etouffee, and jambalaya (must be judged by a panel of real Coonasses).
  • Do you own a pair of rubber fishing boots? Bonus points if they are white.

That’s all there is to it. If you meet these requirements, then you can swear yourself in by placing your hand on a copy of ‘Talk about Good‘ and shotgunning a beer…and wait for your own Golden Crawfish Award™ to arrive in the mail.

Cajun Study Materials

#17 Crawfish Boils

Crawfish Boil. If those two words set off the waterworks in your mouth, then you just might be a Cajun. Don’t worry, that’s about as Foxworthy as I’ll ever get on you. I brought up crawfish boil rather than boiled crawfish because while boiled crawfish is a delicious food, a crawfish boil is a grand event. It’s like shootin’ your first deer, going to Mardis Gras, and your wedding day all rolled into one…but even better (but don’t tell my wife I said ‘dat, you). A crawfish boil is an all day affair that combines everything a Cajun loves: outdoors, fire, dead crustaceans, music, and gluttony.

When the guests first arrive, they socialize, munching on snacks, and drink beer. This is a good time to whip up a batch of crawfish dip, a mixture of equal parts ketchup, mayonaise and maybe a dash of seasoning and Tabasco Sauce. Some Cajuns swear by the dip, others are purists, and prefer to enjoy the natural flavor of the crawfish, and the 8 lbs of seasoning they were cooked in. There’s electricity in the air, as everyone anticipates the first glorious batch.

As the first batch of crawfish nears completion, the mood shifts, and people slowly start positioning themselves near the table, like a game of Cajun musical chairs. Sure, they’re still mingling and having a good time, but they’re really only thinking about diving into a pile of Louisiana lobster. Then the moment of truth arrives, and the steaming crawfish are dumped over a big table covered with newspapers, and the chowdown begins. This is a Jeckyll and Hyde moment, where all Cajuns are transformed into fierce crawfish peelin’ and eatin’ machines. Their primal instincts take over and there’s less chit chat, because now it’s time for business.

But don’t think we’re complete savages, even though our lizard brains have been switched on, there are still rules that have to be observed at a crawfish boil. First, it’s considered extremely rude to reach across the table and grab the biggest crawfish, especially when the pile has started to dwindle down. People have been stabbed in the hand with a fork for that offense, and you know what…they deserved it. Secondly, don’t go eatin’ the dead ones (have a Cajun explain that one to you). Do remember not wipe your eyes when you have seasoning on your hands, and feel free to suck the heads (get your mind out of the gutter, couyon!). Lastly try not to fill up on corn and potatoes, it’s a trick to keep you from eating too much crawfish! It’s like filling up on bread at a buffet. Remember, you’re here for one thing, and one thing only, and that’s to gorge yourself on crawfish.

Now that we’ve gone over the basics, you’re ready for your next crawfish boil. Don’t forget to pace yourself, a crawfish boil isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon, and remember to wear ‘dem stretchy pants.

Former KLFY Broadcaster Jim Olivier Dead at 57

I just got word that long time Cajun broadcaster Jim Olivier has passed away at the age of 57. If you grew up in the Lafayette area in the 80s and early 90s, you probably know who Jim Olivier was. In the pre-500 channel era, it was hard to flip the channel without catching one of Jim’s shows. My grandmother used to wake up every morning and watch Passe Partout, which was sort of like a Cajun Good Morning America. Because the first half of the show was completely in French, it was her favorite news show. She’d tune in to hear him talk about the latest news, or to watch a local Cajun or Zydeco band play a tune. Jim also hosted a noontime show called Meet Your Neighbor which my grandmother never missed. Hearing about his passing brings back a lot of old memories.

Commenter liztrudy on the Daily Advertiser website put it best when she said, “Jim was an all-around great guy who was one of Acadiana’s true ambassadors. We have lost a treasure.”

Here’s a short clip of Jim introducing the Basin Brothers back in 1990:

#16 Shootin’ Stuff

There’s just something about being outdoors, enjoying the fresh air and becoming one with nature. It’s a place where you can sit in utter silence, reflecting on your life, your accomplishments and failures, your joys and regrets, the things that you are thankful for, and every now and then you get lucky…and get to shoot something!

Man, ‘dere are few things that a Cajun man loves more than shootin’ stuff. What’s the appeal, you ask? For starters, it’s fun. We get to dress up in camouflage, ride four wheelers and douse ourselves in deer urine. Secondly, it gets us away from our ‘ole lady for a while, which is good. Sure, we might talk big about wildlife conservation, thinning the herd, of the superiority of wild meat, but deep down, it’s really just the shootin’ we’re in it for. It’s that rush of adrenaline we get when we get a critter in our crosshairs, pull the trigger, and watching it fall to the ground.

Cajun’s aren’t picky about their shootin’ either. Just about any type will do be it shotgun, rifle, bow, or crossbow. Hell, in a pinch, we’ll take to shootin’ at beer cans (empty of course), skeet, stop signs, or even ‘dem virtual deer on the computer when nothin’ else is in season.

While it might be more economical to just buy meat at the grocery store, real Cajuns believe that there is no food that cannot be made better by shootin’ it first. Personally, I think it’s the lead shot that adds to the complexity of the flavor. Cajuns also take pride in bringing home their bounty, of throwing down a big slab of meat on the table and saying, ‘Marie, look whut I shot dere, mais clean dat for me chére’. If ‘dat don’t turn a woman on, I don’t know what does.

And while men in other cultures take pride in their football season tickets or their country club memberships, a Cajun’s prized possession is his hunting lease. Cajun men aren’t used to sharing their feelings with each other, but letting a friend share your lease is about as close to an ‘I love you man’ as you can get. None of ‘dat Brokeback stuff though.

Now there are some ole boys that hunt for the mount they can put over their fireplace. The only thing that brightens up a room more than a 12 point buck on the wall, is four or five other heads to keep it company.

Enough readin’ now. Get out ‘dere, and if it ain’t wearing hunter’s orange, shoot dat critter.

No Publicity is Bad Publicity

Mais, I woke up dis mornin’ and seen dat our little blog had a mention in Heeb magazine. Here’s what they had to say:
A little while ago we posted our interview with Stuff White People Like’s brilliant Christian Lander. Since then, his blog has spawned numerous inept imitators including:

StuffAsianPeopleLike

Stuff Brown People Like

Stuff Educated Black People Like

Stuff Cajun Peole Like

Stuff Queer People Like

Stuff Straight People Like

And of course:

Stuff Jewish Young Adults Like

In short, these copycat blogs range from run-of-the-mill crap to the most putrid diarrhea. As one commenter puts it on Stuff College People Like, “When cribbing from Stuffwhitepeoplelike, you forgot the most important element: humor.

Now, I can’t argue about bein’ a copycat, but I don’t tink all of ‘dem other words is nice (my mama taught me better than dat). However, I’ll assume for now that stuffcajunpeoplelike falls under the run-of-the-mill crap category, cause I seen putrid diarrhea before, and we not ‘dat bad. Anyhow, tanks for the mention! I might even quote it on my book cover if dem publishers ever call back.

How’s dis for a blurb: “…brilliant…Stuff Cajun People Like…most important…humor…“. Not too shabby eh?

#15 Poo-Poo Broussard

My Lips is Chapped! It’s a catchphrase recognized by Cajuns all over Acadiana, the Coonass equivalent of “What you talkin’ about Willis”. If you haven’t heard about Cajun sensation Poo-Poo Broussard by now, then you’ve been living under a rock. His appeal is almost universal among Cajuns, eliciting deep belly laughs (and the occasional groan) from all who hear him.

Whether talking about his lip hydration issues, or his considerable lady skills, Poo-Poo’s unique Cajun wisdom always shines through. Poo-poo likes to hand out his witticisms from his porch in the form of PooPooisms, like #49 ‘If someone gives you lemons, make lemonade. If someone gives you the crabs, cook some rice.’ Another favorite PooPooism is #111, ‘they say that a penny saved is a penny earned…but what the hell you gonna buy with a penny…nuthin, that’s what’.

What’s the secret to Poo-Poo’s success? His appeal lies in the fact that he’s a homegrown act, a Cajun making fun of his own kind. Who doesn’t have an uncle or cousin just like Poo-Poo? He’s not the product of a bunch of Hollywood writers laughing at us (think Adam Sandler in Waterboy). And just look at him, he is one smooth dude. From his nice big smile to his sharp attire, he’s like a Cajun George Clooney. All the ladies wanna be with him, and all the men want to be him.

Here’s a good in-depth article on Poo-Poo if you haven’t had your fill of him yet.

Here’s the video that started it all, My Lips is Chapped: