East Texas, Kirbyville
Every morning that we have been here in Kirbyville, we’ve driven into town where we can walk to get some exercise and take in the sights. There is a very western looking one street downtown but most of the businesses are on the main drag – Texas Route 96. Off of 96 are side streets with houses where you can walk safely. The area is very interesting because, even though these homes are “in town” many have a fenced off coral area where cattle and other livestock may graze. I’d say 1 in 5 houses have at least one horse on the property. This friendly guy grazes just across from Kirbyville’s Magnolia Park where we did 5 loops around their measured walking path. Today he (she?) was taking it easy. That steady gaze was focused on Andy.
Each time we rounded the far side of the track we came within feet of Tom Jr.’s Meat Market where they were slow roasting meats in one of those big black metal wood fired cookers…smoke was pouring over the path and the smell was Sunday BBQ and State Fair all wrapped into one – I kept visualizing the fat dripping on the coals – oh my! We finished up our walk and headed over to Tom Jr.’s …. Not for BBQ but for some locally made Boudin.
What, you’ve never heard of Boudin? Well then you’ve never been in Cajun Louisiana or East Texas! This is where spicy Cajun and East Texas cuisine collide. Every Farmer’s Market, Local Restaurant, small café and gas station in this region sell Boudin or Boudain as it is called here in Texas.
Ok, here’s some background. In France, Boudin means blood sausage. The original French Cajuns made their own versions. In Cajun country, there are two Boudins. Boudin Noir is similar to the original French blood sausage. Boudin blanc, is made with pork, liver, spicy seasonings, rice, and sometimes milk. It resembles a rice dressing stuffed into sausage casings. Boudin Blanc is the popular “roadside” version.
According to the “ Homesick Texan” cookbook, it’s what fuels road trips heading east on I-10 from Houston into Louisiana, as almost every gas station worth its salt will have poached or smoked Boudin on hand, ready for snacking. This is how they tell you to eat it: after you fill up the tank and stretch your legs, you grab a link, lean against the counter and squeeze the sausage until the filling oozes out the end, like toothpaste out of a tube. You take a big bite, wash it down with a cold beverage and continue eating until nothing but the casing remains. (The casing, which most don’t eat, is thrown away.) Of course, there are some fastidious types who prefer to eat Boudin with a knife and a fork, but where’s the fun in that? We’ve only ever grilled it but we are anxious to try other cooking methods.
And of course, you can get a huge variety of specialty Boudin at meat markets …. That’s where we finally got up the nerve to try it and believe-you-me….as my sister Deb would say….it is incredible – like nothing you’ve tasted before because it is not really a sausage….it is more like a spicy pork/rice dish that you can grill or bake or steam or just microwave…..oh the delicious versatility! Someday I’ll tell you about Boudin Balls – a deep fried delight! But today, we were on a Boudin sausage mission.
After studying all of the varieties available, we decided to buy 10-pounds of the hot-spicy to bring back to those brave enough to try it in Maryland. Unfortunately they were out of our favorite jalapeño Boudin but, I think the hot/spicy will give everyone a nice taste of this Cajun delicacy. Back at the coach I used my handy “seal-a-meal” vacuum sealer to separate and package the precious links before freezing.
A funny thing happened when we were Boudin shopping. We met a woman who is a Lafayette Cajun transplant. She was explaining Boudin and Gumbo to us; telling us how the Cajun’s make them. Then she said, (and I wish you could hear her Cajun accent), “If youse is evea ‘vited to eat at somebody place, don’t youse ask what is in da gumbo and don’t youse ask what is in the Boudin! Just eat and enjoy! Happens lots of folks uses whatever road kill they find…. and that’s ok!”
Thanks For Riding Along,