During halftime of last weekend’s delicious LSU-Auburn game (sorry, Auburn friends!), my friend Sara and I headed into the kitchen to work on appetizers while our combined six kids and two husbands headed outside. It was beastly hot, so much so that organizers a few miles away at Tiger Stadium had made special arrangements for extra water — and paramedics. Even here in the comfort of our air-conditioned house, something cool and refreshing was in order. We set out the ingredients to make Gulf shrimp spring rolls.
Boudin links are great. We all know that. But boudin balls are better, because as we also know, what pork and rice really need is to be deep-fried.
This weekend, as LSU fans across the state prepare for the game against Auburn, many of them will stock up on Cajun charcuterie’s greatest guilty pleasure. Whether you tote your boudin balls to a tailgate party in a grease-stained paper bag, or on a behemoth disposable platter gilded with parsley, boudin balls are the pinnacle of gameday finger food.
Pimento cheese sammiches with bacon and layer cake worthy of church suppers: Broma’s Deli in Brookhaven, Mississippi has a big menu full of Southern favorites. It’s a convenient stop for Tiger fans on their way to Starkville this weekend when LSU takes on Mississippi State in the team’s first away game of the season. (And first full game after last week’s weird lightening cancellation.) Hungry travelers might need a reliable road food option, and Broma’s has good chow right off I-55.
The blue crab harvest is fully underway here in South Louisiana, and many friends I talked to over the weekend were planning Labor Day crab boils. Yum! As much as I love crawfish, shrimp and oysters, crab — I have to admit — is my all time favorite local seafood. It would be on my desert island list, and my death row last supper.
After our daughter’s cross country meet Saturday morning, we picked up a couple dozen boiled crabs over from Tony’s Seafood for our family of five, and they couldn’t have been tastier. Traditionalists say if you harvest crabs after a full moon, they’re at their fullest, so I guess we were still benefiting from the full moon a week earlier.
Here it is early September in South Louisiana, and crawfish season seems like a thing of the past. Backyard boils, Sunday etouffée and rural crawfish festivals are fixtures of spring, not fall. But let’s not be too hasty. One-pound packages of Louisiana crawfish tails are still available in many independent grocery stores in South Louisiana, and they should be around for another few weeks, says my friend Blaise Calandro III of Calandro’s Supermarkets here in Baton Rouge. In fact, it’s only between November and February when local tails are not commercially available.
So stock up for yourself Louisiana peeps, and freeze some for your out-of-state friends, because in addition to being full of flavor, crawfish tails are one of easiest and most convenient ingredients around, especially if you’re a working parent. I can attest. Earlier this week, I found myself trying to pull together dinner at the absolute last minute, and a pound of frozen crawfish tails saved me.
Throughout my childhood, my paternal grandmother was constantly armed with a bottle of Tabasco. Bland food was the enemy, and there was a lot of it around back then in restaurants, the occasional hospital room and church suppers. In her mind, it all needed correction. She’d reach into her purse for a standard issue 60 ml. bottle of Tabasco, and start dousing. Fast food fries would go from pale beige to orange in a matter of seconds.
That tradition stayed with me when I left Georgia at 18 for college in Washington, D.C. This was forever ago, when dining halls produced food that was crazy tasteless, and I took great pleasure in taking out my own secured bottle of Tabasco. Maybe all that Tabasco love was foreshadowing, because I ended up going to graduate school at LSU soonafter, and then finding myself never able to leave Louisiana.
But in all these years of food writing from Baton Rouge, I’d never written about Tabasco. I was thrilled a few months back when I got a magazine assignment on the McIlhenny family that granted me a behind-the-scenes tour of Avery Island and the Tabasco plant.
What an incredible institution this condiment is.