Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Billeaud’s Too, Calvin Trillin, and Jacking with Cajun Boudin

Traditional Boudin links at Billeaud's Too

"...By way of its prototype sausage, boudin has an honorable history that reaches back to ancient times. Homer mentions goat sausage..." (Virginia Billeaud Anderson - BoudinandBourbon.com writes about Calvin Trillin's New Yorker article about boudin which mentions Billy Billeaud's boudin, the history of boudin, boudin makers' innovations.)

Billeaud's Too, Calvin Trillin, and Jacking with Cajun Boudin

In 2002, the writer Calvin Trillin attempted to introduce the rest of the country to south Louisiana’s boudin. In his article “Missing Links” in The New Yorker magazine, Trillin told readers that boudin was a soft, spicy mixture of rice and pork and liver and seasoning which is squeezed hot into the mouth from a sausage casing, usually in the parking lot of a grocery store, and preferably while leaning against a pickup.

Among the south Louisiana boudin manufacturers mentioned in Trillin’s article was my brother Billy Billeaud, and while many of Billeaud’s customers do indeed drive pickup trucks, and occasionally gulp down boudin links while plopped against their vehicles, others set proper tables and serve the links on real plates.

Many customers bypass the trip to the establishment and order boudin from Billeaud’s website, but of course internet food marketing and shipping were less familiar at the time Trillin wrote his article. Trillin’s impulse was to inform his non-Louisiana magazine readers, those in Chicago for instance, or Detroit, or in Manhattan's Greenwhich Village where he lived, about the Cajun sausage's deeply rooted south Louisiana origins, somewhat akin to gators and shifty politicians. In this vein, Trillin cited the "scarcity" of boudin in the rest of the country.

This was no longer the case by 2011 when Bob Carriker, the authoritative Dr. Boudin, noted boudin’s popularity in other regions of the country, and called boudin a rising star on the culinary scene. Carriker wrote that boudin had been “garnering national attention.”

Admirably devoted to elevating “our beloved boudin,” Dr. Boudin wrote: “last summer the organizers of a major food festival in New York and Boston offered all-expenses paid trips in order to bring boudin to the East Coast; the renowned chef Daniel Boulud’s HD television show, After Hours with Daniel, highlighted boudin in New Orleans; Bizarre Foods with the Travel Channel’s affable Andrew Zimmern filmed a show that included sampling boudin from various Louisiana locations; and Dirty Jobs, the Discovery Channel’s show where Mike Rowe travels around looking for demanding careers, honed in on a regional boudin-maker. Likewise, travel writers from publications as varied as Trailer LifeEsquire and Australia’s Sunday Telegraph have identified our wonderful pork-and-rice sausage as a worthy subject for national and international readers alike. You can even get boudin at some of the nation’s most highly regarded restaurants, including Emeril’s, Commander’s Palace and Cochon - though none of it is as succulent as what you can get just down the road right here in Cajun Country.” (Bob Carriker)

The affable Andrew Zimmern mentioned above by Dr. Boudin (Bob Carriker) featured Billy Billeaud’s boudin in his boudin-sampling segment of the Bizarre Foods show on the Travel Channel.

Traditional Boudin Links

By way of its prototype sausage, boudin has an honorable history that reaches back to ancient times. Homer mentions goat sausage.

Perhaps it was inevitable that sausage would manifest as boudin where it did. Descendants of French-Acadians who hightailed it out of Canada and settled in south Louisiana’s Acadiana region in the 1700s evolved into hard-scrapping Cajuns. Fiercely industrious, they modified their French ancestors’ sausage recipes to take into account their own hog butchering practices as well as the local foods they grew, rice for instance, and the wild onions that could be gathered in Daddy's fields, out past the mud and pig manure.

Imaginative changes ultimately took place. About the time the rest of the country began to become educated about boudin, south Louisiana boudin-makers started dickering with traditional recipes that had been passed down for generations. They mixed in non-traditional ingredients such as chicken, beef, and crawfish, and in some cases concocted recipes that eliminated the sausage casing.

Which brings us to my point. I encourage you to check out one of Billeaud’s branches, a modest little joint called Billeaud’s Too, attached to a convenience store and gas station. While Billeaud’s Too sells traditional boudin links, rated A+ by Dr. Boudin who critically asserted, “A classic link of boudin bordering on the exquisite,” it also sells non-traditional boudin items such as Fried Boudin Balls with Pepper Jack Cheese, Fried Boudin Balls with Crawfish, Crawfish-stuffed Boudin links, and, Egg Rolls filled with Pepper Jack Cheese and Boudin.

Crawfish Boudin Balls and Crawfish Boudin Links
Egg Rolls filled with Pepper Jack Cheese and Boudin

During the plague out of Hell that temporarily closed Billeaud’s Too’s dining room, customers ordered and carried home their boudin items, as well as
Breakfast, Daily Plate Lunches with beef, pork, chicken, seafood and veggies, Cracklin, and Chile Dogs and thanked the Virgin Mary for an extraordinary restaurant feature that was under-appreciated in less dismal times, a Drive-Through window. But things are back to normal and the dining room is open.

Chile Dogs
Fried Pork Chop
Sausage, Egg, Cheese Biscuit with
Cracklin (fried pork skin)
Billeaud's Too facade
Spaghetti and Meat Balls
Baked Chicken

Billeaud's Too
1512-A Weeks Island Road
New Iberia LA 70560
337 365-2180

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