For many of us, the holidays cue road trips to see family members reachable by car, but in Louisiana that also means entering the orbit of the dozens of Cajun meat markers that line certain stretches of road. Many of us are in the habit of pulling in on two wheels and stocking up on smokehouse pork sausage, hogshead cheese, fresh boudin, cracklins and boudin balls to take home, deliver to lucky folks or scarf down while driving.
Our routine includes stopping at Kartchner’s in Krotz Springs, Louisiana en route from Baton Rouge to Alexandria, where my husband’s family lives. A requisite order here includes three each of the boudin balls – pork, crawfish and jalapeño-cream cheese. We also nab a few ounces of cracklins, root beer all around and lots of napkins.
It’s not a road trip without a grease-stained brown paper bag.
I tend to be a purist – favoring the pork boudin balls – but I’m in the minority.
My husband and daughter like crawfish best, while my 10-year-old son is a consistent jalapeno-cream cheese guy. His obsession with them got me thinking: How long has the jalapeño-cream cheese boudin ball been part of the Cajun meat market experience, anyway? Look around the refrigerator cases at most of these roadside gems and you see jalapeño and cream cheese stuffed in all manner of items. It’s just one of many ways you can get your meat doozied up by the heavy handed Cajun butcher. Few things on the menu aren’t deep fried, seasoned to oblivion or stuffed with cheesy-fatty-spicy goodness. At some point, one of these meat masters decided to take the ingredients of the jalapeño popper and stuff them inside whatever was close by – a pork chop, a boudin ball, a butterflied shrimp – and it became standard fare.
Do you have a sense of when this started? Or do you have a favorite menu item you’d like to share? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you.