Bonjour mes amis! Unless your fluent in Cajun French, which I am not, the translation of this title and salutation is “let the good times roll and hello my friends!” I’m channeling some Cajun French phrases because I was thwarted unexpectedly into the realm of zydeco and lagniaippes the other night by way of Hawkinsville, Georgia, mind you. Story goes as follows…
I journeyed to M and T Meats as is my custom, and Mr. Phil was telling me about the boudin sausage he had made. Now, this country market is known for their sausages, meats, cheeses, and produce, but a severely regional dish, such as boudin sausage, served outside Arcadia was intriguing. Mr. Phil said it was made in the traditional Cajun style and that I had to try some. My cooler was packed with the spoils of my journey: sausage, pork chops, back meat (one of THE BEST cuts of meat for flavor and tenderness… think peas steeped in their own pot liquor with this tender, center cut pork), Pepper Jack cheese, and biscuits. And the new item, Cajun Phil’s Boudin Sausage, was accounted for as well.
So after a long day, I found myself asking the proverbial question of “what to cook tonight” and then rummaging through the pantry, freezer, fridge, and basket of fresh veggies from Granddaddy’s “parishioners.” We’re Baptist, mind you, but Mimi and I say parishioners, ha! With such an arsenal at hand, I knew I could throw together a feast of local divinity in a matter of minutes. That boudin was just taunting and tantalizing me and I had cook it – taste and see what the folks at M and T were raving about and all of Cajun Country for that matter!
Okra, tomatoes, Vidalias and baby limas – all simmered in a bit chicken stock and awaited their fluffy bed of rice. A billowing pan of cornbread was rising in the oven and the boudin sausage was roasting on my favorite iron skillet. Immediately, the aromas of what constitutes boudin sausage – pork, peppers, rice, onion, and spices – wafted throughout my kitchen, melding with the cornbread baking and stewing vegetables on the stove. I was mainly cooking all this for me, allowing myself to be my own guinea pig when trying a new dish. Yet, once the enticement of these flavors hit the olfactory senses of my sister, her friend, and our friend “Red,” my table was full. Shortly thereafter, so were we!
Sweet and spicy, savory and tender, smooth and intense all at the same time – this boudin was phenomenal. There’s an old saying about politics and sausage making: you don’t want to know what goes into it. I assure you, this was not the case. Knowing that fresh meat, rice, vegetables, and spices were the ingredients of my main dish, I proudly served up this Cajun delicacy. There is something pleasant about knowing where your food comes from after all.
The tomatoes and okra and rice – classic Southern cuisine from Acadia to Hawkinsville and beyond – combined with absolute perfection with the sausage and baby limas, which I didn’t over cook, rather leaving them a bit al dente for texture. While being transported to Louisiana, the Mississippi Gulf, and even East Texas with just one dish, I was reminded of the common bond food plays throughout the South.
This meal was local produce and products combined to bring sustenance and nourishment to our bodies and souls at the end of the day. Whether in Hawkinsville, Georgia or Ponchatoula, Louisiana, the feeling is mutual – a mighty river has shaped our land, our people are fed from said earth, and your culture is food based and food driven. All I could say afterwards was Je fini, je fini, je fini!
J'espère que vous avez une bonne journée mes amis.