In the Field

Honoring the Fall Tradition of the Cajun Boucherie

By: The Local Palate

While many of us celebrate fall at festivals with pumpkin patches, hayrides and petting zoos, down in Louisiana they celebrate a bit differently. Rooted deeply within the Cajun and Creole cultures, Boucheries are a fall culinary tradition.

At a boucherie, a hog is butchered, beers are drawn, and zydeco music lingers in the air. The work traditionally done by neighbors and families becomes the responsibility of butchers and chefs, as the community celebrates the effort dedicated to producing and processing the food that ends up on their plates.

As the pig is broken down, the different cuts are taken to separate cooking stations, each set up to prepare a recipe specific to each cut. They work to ensure that each part of the hog is used, so the results typically include headcheese, backbone stew, frasseurs (organ soup), andouille sausage, barbecue ribs and loin, boudin, and cracklins.

Traditionally held in cooler months between October and the New Year, boucheries harken back to a time when these festivals occurred out of necessity to preserve the meat for the leaner winter months. Reviving them today helps younger generations learn about their heritage and, of course, to celebrate. There’s a singular reverence at boucheries not found at barbecues and pig pickins. Toby Rodriguez, of the former Lache Pas in Acardian, Louisiana, took the art of the boucherie on the road in the 2010s, holding events in their native Cajun communities in addition to Atlanta, St. Louis, Seattle, and Boulder.

“Our species does not have to depend on industry to feed itself,” he says. “This does not belong in a plant. We’ve lost our emotional connection to our food—that’s why we’re so wasteful. We need to get it back.”

Participants meander around the cooking stations throughout the day to sample bits and pieces of the pork delicacies, but the event is rounded out with a family-style dinner where everyone is able to sit down together to enjoy the chef’s creations.

Incorporate a touch of Cajun tradition into your Thanksgiving traditions with a staple like boudin, a meatball of ground pork and organs, generous seasonings, and rice (the Louisiana, way, that is). This recipe for boudin in six easy steps comes from New Orleans chef Stephen Stryjewski of Cochon.

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