It’s summertime, which means it’s time for road trips and that means, of course, it’s time for boudin. It’s simple math, right? Well, if you’re in my head it is, and I think that makes sense to lots of other people in Louisiana. When we hit the road, a lot of the spots along the way turn out to be prime territory for these links of pork and rice sausage that seem so humble on the surface but inspire such desire.
Well, these days, if you’re in and around New Orleans in particular, good sources of this ultimate Louisiana road trip road food are a lot closer to home. That’s new, and for boudin fans that’s very good news.
The natural habitat for boudin is Louisiana Cajun country. You find great boudin at butcher shops that look like gas stations and gas stations that double as butcher shops. The links line the grocery store meat counters and they’re waiting in chafing dishes in the convenience store, right next to the more conventional impulse buys of candy and gum.
But for a long time, where you didn't find boudin was New Orleans. Back in the city, boudin wasn’t unheard of in the city, but it just wasn’t part of daily life.
And that is what has changed. Boudin has found a second home in the Crescent City. It’s on menus from breakfast to dinner and, most promising, it’s a staple at a string of new butcher shops, ready to be eaten by hand, calling for no fuss, no hassles but maybe a few napkins.
Now, there’s an important distinction: I am not talking about the grocery store boudin, the brands that are packaged and sold to take home and cook up. These have their place and oh how they got us boudin fanatics in New Orleans through the lean years.
But they can only take you so far into the boudin lover’s heart. The true cravings were set on the road, traveling around Acadiana, measuring the miles by links of instant gratification until the names of towns on the map started to look like menu listings. Scott, Breaux Bridge, Eunice, Krotz Springs – these all said boudin to those who felt the yen. Whole road trips could be rationalized around filling an ice chest with link after link, to compare, to share, to hoard.
Now though, in New Orleans it is possible to assemble an in-town road trip, with a whole circuit of shops now making boudin in the metro area.
There’s Shank Charcuterie and the Cheezy Cajun on St. Claude Avenue, Tres Bon in River Ridge, Bourree at Boucherie in Carrollton and Butcher in the Warehouse District, Chris’ Specialty Meats in Lakeview and the great granddaddy of Cajun butcher shops in these parts, Gourmet Butcher Block in Gretna.
Great boudin will always be worth a journey, like any particular and compelling pleasure. At the very least, it’s worth a detour and a pit stop on the Louisiana highway. But now, in New Orleans, some of those detours might lead right down the street.
1510 S. Carrollton Ave., 504-510-4040
930 Tchoupitoulas St., 504-588-7675
3325 St. Claude Ave., 504-265-0045
6521 West End Blvd., 504-309-0010
2144 Belle Chasse Hwy, Gretna, 504-392-5700
10316 Jefferson Hwy., 504-405-5355
2352 St. Claude Ave., 504-218-5281