Mystical Journey into the Swamplands: August in New Orleans, Part I: Cajun Country

Houstonians visiting New Orleans must be as natural as New Jerseyans visiting Manhattan, but somehow, I -a frequent Houstonian- have never made the pilgrimage to the Crescent City. When by some miracle of God (i.e. restaurant partner and saint, John Virden) Golf and I were told that it was time to take a vacation from the restaurant and the rest, we took a month to vacillate between our options. Sometimes you need plans, and sometimes you just need to pick a direction. Ten hours before we departed, we made the decision: East. 

 

The trick to destination-fuzzy travel is to focus on the present. “Where are we? Is there something weird about it?” We knew we were bound for New Orleans, but that didn't mean that we should fly like bandits down the highway without stopping to lap up the special sauce of all of the points in between. Golf, for instance, honored the increasingly French names of streets and towns by reading the signs out loud in perfect Parisian dialect, giving East Texas a certain je ne sais quoi, though he was disappointed to hear that Beaumont had no “beautiful mountain” unless you counted the mall.


My all-powerful pocket computer has taken the guesswork out of finding local treasures unbeknownst to non-natives, so when I typed in “best thing to eat between Houston and New Orleans,” the answer was unanimous: when in Cajun country, one eats boudin and cracklins. There was a pretty heated-up discussion on the forum boards as to which roadside stop offered the best boudin and cracklin, but by comparing the list to our map, I narrowed it down to one which was helpfully named “BEST STOP BOUDIN CRACKLIN.” When we pulled off highway 93, it was doubly emphasized in huge, red, handpainted letters over the shell of the original stop.

We walked into the stand and were a bit daunted by the rows of meat behind glass, priced by the pound. A kind cajun behind the counter spotted us as out-of-towners in nigh under .5 seconds. In a dialect that required all of my focus to follow, he gave us the guided tour of processed pork parts, offering special recommendations for first-timers. We walked out with a pound of boudin, two cheesy boudin egg rolls, fried boudin balls, a quarter pound of cracklins, a loaf of locally-made French bread, and two coconut waters. It might have been too much. Going from an 83% Mediterranean diet to the meaty intestines and fried skin of pork is a shock on the digestive tract, but we fulfilled our mission. (At least Golf did...I admit I wasn’t a lot of help.)


So we ate the BEST boudin and cracklins in Scott, LA, the boudin capital of the WORLD, which means that we can most certainly check that off our list and leave our boudin-eatin’ days behind us. We walked over to the oddly situated plaster statue of Mary positioned on a median and prayed for guidance, protection, and probiotics, rolled ourselves back into the truck, and continued East.

 

 

If you too would like to test your gut on boudin and cracklin, you can find the Best Stop Boudin Cracklin in Scott, LA. Here's their website.