Southern Boudin Trail

Southern Boudin Trail

“I figure that about 80 percent of the boudin purchased in Louisiana is consumed before the purchaser has left the parking lot, and most of the rest is polished off in the car. In other words, Cajun boudin not only doesn’t get outside the state; it usually doesn’t even get home.”

– Calvin Trillin, from his essay, “The Missing Links: In Praise of the Cajun Foodstuff That Doesn’t Get Around.”

* * *

Food is a tie that binds, a constant, an equalizer, or in the words of James Beard: “Food is our common ground, a universal experience.” Food can also function as one of the defining characteristics of regional and cultural identity. Boudin, a unique but simple culinary concoction of pork, rice, onions and various other herbs and spices squeezed in to a sausage casing and served hot, is one of those foods.

Throughout the area defined as Acadiana or Cajun Country, of which Lafayette is the hub, boudin is ubiquitous: Signs and banners signal passersby to stop and grab a link of HOT BOUDIN where it will be pulled from a steamer or slow cooker, weighed, wrapped in butcher paper, and usually handed over along with some napkins or paper towels so it can be eaten right on the spot. Displaced Cajuns frequently fill ice chests with links from their favorite boudin spots and relish the opportunity to share them with the uninitiated in other places. In Acadiana, boudin inspires fond memories of good times with family and friends as well as heartfelt debates about whose recipe is “best.” To say that folks in south Louisiana are passionate about their boudin is an understatement. Perhaps obsessive is more appropriate, since in-depth discussions about the crispness of the casing, rice to meat ratio, eating method, appropriate spice, and best texture are all too common when people start talking about their favorite “link.”

Although the archival record may never reveal the precise origin of Louisiana’s boudin sausage, we do know that it traces its culinary lineage, like the Cajun people trace their ancestry, back to France. The French eat a sausage called “boudin blanc” (white boudin) which is similar to Cajun boudin almost solely through its nomenclature; for French boudin blanc is a highly perishable sausage made with pork, chicken, and/or veal mixed with milk, cognac, and spices. While this is certainly a delightful treat, its flavor bears no resemblance to the link you will sink your teeth into in Louisiana. When the French Acadians (today’s Cajuns) made their way out of Nova Scotia, after having been expelled by the British in 1755, they adapted their traditions and culture to their new surroundings. Many made their way to the bayous, prairies, and backwoods of Louisiana where surviving required ingenuity, flexibility, and creativity. So, when they set out to make use of a freshly butchered hog, and to make good use of every single part of that animal, it wouldn’t have been such a stretch for them to mix the pork scraps with the seasonings at hand, push it into the hog’s intestines and call it what they had always called such a sausage: boudin. The German immigrants who arrived in southwest Louisiana during the 1720s brought with them a talent for sausage-making and certainly also affected the region’s boudin traditions. Later, once large-scale rice production began in Louisiana at the end of the nineteenth century, cooks added rice to boudin for filler and flavor. Today in places like St. Martinville, at La Grande Boucherie des Cajuns (a communal hog butchering) held the Sunday before Mardi Gras, the age old practice of making boudin is embraced and the custom and community spirit continues to be passed from one generation to the next.

Regional variations exist from parish to parish and neighborhood to neighborhood, but the best links always come from specialty meat shops, grocery stores, and restaurants that make it in-house. You are as likely to find a true boudin craftsman in a gas station convenience store with an added kitchen as you are in an established meat market. For many, boudin is the essential Cajun fast food, quickly filling the hunger void at any time of the day or night. However, the most common time to eat a link is in the morning, and many Cajuns refer to a cold soft drink and a link of boudin as a “Cajun Breakfast.” But this porky pleasure is more versatile yet, including a myriad of variations worth trying. Boudin rouge (red/blood boudin: made with copious quantities of pig’s or cow’s blood) is hard to come by these days since modern health codes make the process too complex to be profitable for most producers, though we do include a couple of oral histories herein with makers of blood boudin. Some people, particularly transplants from Texas, insist on grilling or smoking their links. Boudin balls are made by rounding the sausage filling into balls and then breading and deep-frying it. A boudin sandwich, primarily made at home, is the filling smeared between two pieces of white bread. Boudinalaya (a twist on jambalaya) is a budding new variation. And many boudin stops tout nouveau fillings: shrimp, crawfish, seafood, chicken, and even alligator. New-fangled creations pop up all the time.

To begin understanding why such a simple food gets so much attention in Acadiana, one must venture out, oftentimes into the countryside, to meat markets and corner grocery stores where boudin craftsmen, or as some call them, boudiniers, employ generations-old recipes to make a product so versatile that it is as properly enjoyed as a meal-on-the-go as it is stuck with toothpicks and served from silver platters at the finest wedding receptions. Still, when it is all said and done, at its best, boudin is about tradition as much as it is about taste: the links shared between a father and son on their way to the duck blind, between buddies as they venture out on an early morning fishing trip, or between friends who set out on a Saturday morning “boudin run” become ritualistic. George Bernard Shaw may not have been referring specifically to boudin when he said, “There is no love sincerer than the love of food,” but in south Louisiana he certainly could have been.

– Bob Carriker

Bob Carriker is a history professor, SFA member, and boudin-lover. He is also co-creator of, a comprehensive taste guide to boudin in south Louisiana.

This project is underwritten by McIlhenny Company, makers of TABASCO® 


Babineaux Slaughter House - Interview with Rodney Babineaux - Southern Boudin Trail

Babineaux Slaughter House

As purveyors of red boudin, the brothers Rodney and Larry Babineaux are the last of a dying breed in Acadiana. Also known as blood boudin, red boudin is made by mixing blood from a freshly slaughtered pig into typical Cajun white boudin filling. While the Babineauxs also sell an exceptional white boudin, for which they use the freshest meat possible, it’s the red boudin that truly sets them apart.

Bayou Boudin & Cracklin’ - Rocky Sonnier - Southern Boudin Trail

Bayou Boudin & Cracklin’

Rocky Sonnier might not have had cultural preservation in mind when he and his wife, Lisa, began building their Bayou Boudin & Cracklin’/Bayou Cabins bed and breakfast 20 years ago, but today the compound, which edges along Bayou Teche, is a virtual living history museum.

Billeaud’s Grocery - Billy Billeaud - Southern Boudin Trail

Billeaud’s Grocery

A Cajun through and through—from his surname to his passion for fishing­—Billy Billeaud decided as a young man to transition from the profitable fast-food business to the more regionally focused grocery, meat market, and fuel stop that he has been running for the past 17 years.

Billy and Ray’s Boudin - Patsy Frey - Southern Boudin Trail

Billy and Ray’s Boudin

Billy and Patsy Frey didn’t start out in the boudin business. They had careers in the oil industry, and even maintained a few rental properties. But they long wanted to work for themselves and, with help from Patsy’s father, they opened their first convenience store in Krotz Springs, Louisiana.

Boudin for Peace - Jeff Landry and Blake Greer - Southern Boudin Trail

Boudin For Peace

Growing up in Lafayette, Jeff Landry didn’t imagine that boudin—such a common food—would one day become the focal point of his favorite day of the year. In 2000, because he knew the right people and which strings to pull, Jeff became a rookie member of Boudin For Peace, an all-male, semi-secret organization that celebrates Acadiana’s boudin culture during an annual day-long boudin bus tour.

Bourque’s Supermarket - Shannon & Chad Bourque - Southern Boudin Trail

Bourque’s Supermarket

Adolph “The Boss” Bourque raised a menagerie of livestock at his home in Port Barre, Louisiana, to feed his family. In 1948 he began selling cuts of meat, eggs, and vegetables to neighbors out his front door. Eventually, he turned his living room market into a freestanding business, with his three sons working at his side.

C. Hebert’s Slaughter House & Meat Market - Beverly Giardelli - Southern Boudin Trail

C. Hebert’s Slaughter House & Meat Market

Beverly Giardelli grew up so close to the boudin at C. Hebert’s Slaughter House & Meat Market that she hardly even remembers eating it as a young girl. Her mother worked at the market, her cousins worked at the market.

Cafe des Amis_Dickie Breaux

Café Des Amis

Never in his first fifty years of life did Dickie Breaux, né John Richard Breaux, imagine that he would be tied to Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, by a bowl of duck gumbo—or anything else for that matter. Though he was born in that town, he spent his teenage years living in Jeanerette forty-some miles to the southeast. Or, as Dickie puts it, “a million miles away.”

Cajun Grain - Kurt and Karen Unkel - Southern Boudin Trail

Cajun Grain

Kurt Unkel grew up in family of rice and cattle farmers in Kinder, eating the traditional Cajun pork-and-rice boudin that’s prolific in this area of the state. For the first decade-plus of their marriage, Kurt and his wife, Karen, a nurse by profession, farmed on auto-pilot. But about eight years ago, with all three of their kids in school, they found time to assess their work lives, which induced an awakening. Seeing no way to make a viable long-term living in conventional farming, they began to transition to more sustainable farming methods, and also to direct-marketing their product.

Chops Speciality Meats - David Hulen - Southern Boudin Trail

Chops Specialty Meats

There’s a small sign out by the road next to a crawfish flag, indicating that boiled crawfish are available today. Large pick-up trucks fill the parking spaces across the storefront, so it’s hard to see inside. A sign with a fat pig holding a cleaver over a ham steak hangs on the building’s exterior. It’s a good humored cartoon that only becomes disturbing if you think too hard about it. Meet Chop’s Specialty Meats.

Cochon and Herbsaint Restaurant - Donald LInk - Bayou and Gumbo Trail


Eventually, though, his roots called him home. Donald moved to New Orleans and opened Herbsaint Restaurant in 2000. Five years later and only a handful of months after Hurricane Katrina, he opened his second restaurant, Cochon. Gumbo is served at both establishments.

Coleman’s Sausage & Specialty Meats - Lynn Dale Coleman - Southern Boudin Trail

Coleman’s Sausage & Specialty Meats

Coleman’s Sausage and Specialty Meats is tucked away in the Iota countryside, a few miles outside of downtown, on Des Cannes Highway. It’s called the “new store,” but it’s actually the only store they’ve ever had.

Comeaux's Inc. - Ray Comeaux - Southern Boudin Trail

Comeaux’s Incorporated

Comeaux’s Incorporated got its start in the small kitchen at Comeaux’s Grocery, a famiy-owned business near the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. Eula Mae, a school cafeteria cook, and Frank Comeaux, a fireman, started the grocery store in 1967.

Coz Fontenot - Home Boudin Maker - Southern Boudin Trail

Coz Fontenot

Boudin may be best known as convenience store food, but for every commercial producer of the sausage there is a Cajun like Coz Fontenot, who makes boudin at home—or at the communal boucheries (hog killings) still occasionally staged throughout the area. Coz ate boudin every Saturday with his family while growing up, and he learned to make the sausage from three different men, his bosses at small stop-and-shops, while he was a teenager.

Don's Specialty Meats - Mark Cole and Jimmy Guidry - Southern Boudin Trail

Don’s Specialty Meats

Louisiana native Mark Cole sold cars for twelve years. In 1992 he went into business with Don Menard, opening Don’s Specialty Meats in Carencro, Louisiana. Mark managed the money, Don the meat. Boudin was one of their specialties.

Eric Cormier - Gumbo Trail

Eric Cormier

While Eric cannot envision ever matching his mother’s platonic gumbos, he is the main cook in his household today (“My wife is from Kansas,” he explains) and finds pride in carrying forth the Louisiana tradition of men in the kitchen.

Eunice Superette & Slaughter House, Inc. - Andy Thibodeaux, Willie Burson, and Manager Randall - Southern Boudin Trail

Eunice Superette & Slaughter House, Inc.

The Eunice Superette and Slaughter House is a family owned and operated slaughter house. A full-size cow statue atop the business sign signals the location to passers-by, though pork product–especially boudin–is a major seller in the retail shop.

Farmers Milling Rice Co. - John Hensgens - Gumbo Trail

Farmers Rice Milling Co.

Johnny Hensgens knows from rice. He grew up on his family’s rice farm, eating duck and goose gumbos made from birds hunted in the rice fields. He operated his own rice farm as a young adult. And since 1995, he has been Director of Farming Operations at a large, self-sustaining rice farm just outside of Lake Charles, the town of his birth.

French Market Foods - Larry Avery - Gumbo and Boudin Trail

French Market Foods

French Market Foods might not be a household name in Louisiana or beyond, but the brand under which most of the company’s products are marketed—Tony Chachere’s—most certainly is. Grocery store aisles and meat markets brim with Creole and Cajun seasoning mixes, but Tony Chachere’s seasoning in particular is as abundant in households across Louisiana as dark-roast coffee and cane syrup.

G&M Meat Market - George Stevens - Southern Boudin Trail

G&M Meat Market

G&M Meat Market is a small portable building tucked away on Domingue, a residential street one block off Jeanerette’s main highway. A small lot, with space for only about three cars, stays parked up most of the time. Customers come and go throughout the day, buying hot links of boudin for breakfast, or picking up a loaf of bread (supplied by the local bakery, LeJeune’s) to make a boudin sandwich for lunch.

Gautreax’s Cajun Meats – Henry Alfred - Southern Boudin Trail

Gautreax’s Cajun Meats

Gautreaux’s Cajun Meats is a food counter inside a Chevron truck stop off I-10 in Duson, Louisiana. No interstate signs advertise the meat market, but plenty of roadside signs announce Miss Mamie’s Café, with “good food and fast Internet.”

Gerald Patout - Arnold LeDoux Library - Louisiana State University - Southern Boudin Trail

Gerald Patout

Even as a young librarian with a case of wanderlust, Gerald Patout never quite left his home base of Acadiana. While living in New York City, for example, he worked for the Domino Sugar company—a providential match seeing as how Gerald grew up in one of Louisiana’s most influential sugar-producing families.

Guidroz Food Center - Al Guidroz and Joseph Guidroz - Southern Boudin Trail

Guidroz Food Center

In 1959, Joseph Guidroz opened Guidroz Food Center in Lafayette, Louisiana. His home was attached to the store where he and his wife worked, and the children literally grew up in the grocery business, playing among the aisles. Today Joseph Guidroz is 81 and retired, but on Tuesdays and Fridays he dons a work shirt and goes to the store to help make boudin. His son, Alvin, now runs the family business full-time.

Hebert's Specialty Meats - Sammy Hebert - Southern Boudin Trail

Hebert’s Specialty Meats

Hebert’s Specialty Meats in Maurice, Louisiana, makes a tasty boudin, but it’s their invention of the turducken that put this store on the culinary map. Owner Sammy Hebert co-founded the shop with his brother, who now is retired. Today, Sammy runs the business and he’s managing construction to expand the store’s retail space.

Janise's Supermarket - Dwayne Janise - Southern Boudin Trail

Janise’s Supermarket

Larry and Emma Janise started the store in 1974, and today son, Dwayne, and daughter, Lori, run the family business. The full service grocery store that looks much like any other to a customer walking through the front door, but hiding in the back corner is a deli counter laden with thick links of spicy boudin.


Joyce’s Supermarket

The motto at Joyce’s Supermarket – “Where Prices are Born Not Raised” – is as unorthodox as its sausage selection, and it points to the good humor and ingenuity of its proprietor, Lowell Gauthier. Approaching his 70s, Lowell still has a hand in every aspect of the business that he and his estranged wife, Joyce, … Continued

Legnon’s Boucherie - Ted Legnon - Southern Boudin Trail

Legnon’s Boucherie

Ted Legnon was a teenager when he began making boudin. The home boucheries of his childhood, whole-family events, must have made an impact because today his is recognized as some of the finest boudin in the New Iberia area. For evidence, note the roughly 1,500 pounds of boudin that he and his staff at Legnon’s Boucherie produce daily.

Matt Hackler - Folklorist - Southern Boudin Trail

Matt Hackler

Matt Hackler, a product of two East Texans, grew up in Cajun country, where his father relocated for a job in the oil industry. At home, his mother cooked typical East Texan white gravies and chicken and dumplings, but also dark-roux gumbos and crawfish étouffée.

Mowata Store - Bubba Frey - Gumbo and Boudin Trail

Mowata Store

Bubba Frey’s Restaurant, which connects to the Mowata Store and maintains limited hours, is where Bubba serves guinea hen gumbo made with his own hens during the cooler months, as well as stuffed beef tongue every Thursday for lunch. Other specials might include whole battered-and-fried quail that also were raised by the chef, stuffed ponce (stomach), local frog’s legs, and baked Muscovy duck. On Saturday nights in the restaurant, Bubba, a self-taught fiddle player, and other musicians from the area gather for a genuine, and free, Cajun music jam session.

Peltier’s Specialty Meats - Brent Peltier - Southern Boudin Trail

Peltier’s Specialty Meats

When Brent Peltier was growing up in New Iberia, his Cajun father made boudin at home for the family, using a bull horn to stuff the mixture into casings. They would eat the boudin either by the link or in po-boys. Brent also watched his father make cracklins, cutting the pork bellies by hand and distributing the finished batch throughout the neighborhood.

Poche's Market - Floyd Poche - Southern Boudin Trail

Poche’s Market

The inception of Poche’s Market occurred sometime in the 1940’s, when Floyd Poche’s grandfather, a first-generation American, began to sell pork, boudin, and crackling from pigs that he would slaughter himself. He had a small store in Poche Bridge, an area along the Bayou Teche near the larger town of Breaux Bridge. Floyd eventually bought the business from his father in 1976, and he has since expanded the operation more than tenfold.

Ricky LeBlanc - Ricky LeBlanc (Retired) Meat Inspector, Specialist Three - Southern Boudin Trail

Ricky LeBlanc

Ricky LeBlanc stumbled onto meat inspection early in life as a way to support a family while also pursuing his passion, horse training. While he doesn’t come from a long line of meat inspectors, his job covers some familiar ground: growing up, his family raised its own livestock to eat from; they even made their own boudin. As the decades progressed, Louisiana’s meat processing industry changed, and along with it Ricky’s job.

Saucier's Sausage Kitchen - John Saucier - Southern Boudin Trail

Saucier’s Sausage Kitchen

Born in 1941, John Saucier grew up on a farm in Plaisance, Louisiana. He learned the Cajun boucherie tradition of slaughtering hogs, how to preserve meat, and how to tend a garden. He carried these lessons into his adult life. Even when working as a custodian, supporting a family of his own in Mamou, Louisiana, he raised his own food.

Sunset Specialty Meats - Richard Elliott - Southern Boudin Trail

Sunset Specialty Meats

After nearly two decades in the chain-grocery business, Richard Elliott bought himself a small specialty meat market and food store. If the inspiration for such a move was the allure of being his own boss, the side effect is that he has become the only small-scale, personalized grocer in a town that used to have several such businesses.

T-Boy’s Slaughterhouse - T-Boy Berzas - Southern Boudin Trail

T-Boy’s Slaughterhouse

Paul Nathan Berzas is the youngest of nine children. All his life he’s been known as T-Boy, a Cajun nickname for the youngest in the brood. Growing up, T-Boy, along with his brothers and sisters, pitched in on the family farm. They harvested rice, picked soybeans, and slaughtered hogs, all of which they ate.

The Best Stop - Robert Cormier - Southern Boudin Trail

The Best Stop

A native of Scott, Louisiana, Robert Cormier grew up in a household that followed the Cajun boucherie tradition, wherein hogs were slaughtered out of necessity.

The Sausage Link - Kevin Downs - Southern Boudin Trail

The Sausage Link

When you look at the way his family ate while he was growing up in Sulphur, it begins to look as though Kevin Downs was predestined to enter the meat business. His was a hunting family. Kevin’s favorite memory of his mother’s cooking: deer roast and gravy with butter beans and sausage on the side.

Tiny Prudhomme’s House of Meat - Tiny Prudhomme - Southern Boudin Trail

Tiny Prudhomme’s House of Meat

Damon Prodhomme, known by everyone as Tiny, comes from a family with deep traditions in the kitchen. His uncle is Paul Prudhomme, chef at K-Paul’s in New Orleans. His aunts and uncles co-authored The Prudhomme Family Cookbook, which shared as much family history as it did kitchen secrets.

Trahan Foods - Mark Cormier and Scott Menard - Southern Boudin Trail

Trahan Foods

In a way, Scott Menard has been in the grocery business his entire life. After the death of his father at a young age, Scott was raised by his uncle, Ronnie Trahan, who throughout Scott’s childhood owned and operated Trahan Foods. Scott became a full-time employee directly out of high school, and he bought the grocery and meat market outright in 2006.

Vincent Fontenot - United States National Park Ranger - Prairie Acadian Cultural Center - Southern Boudin Trail

Vincent Fontenot

When Vincent Fontenot’s parents moved from Louisiana to Texas following World War II so that Vincent’s father could work in the petro-chemical industry there, they couldn’t have guessed that their future son would turn into one of Acadiana’s greatest boosters and cultural preservationists. While Vincent grew up in Texas with his parents speaking Cajun-French at home, and while he visited Louisiana often as a boy and loved to eat boudin sausage, it wasn’t until he moved to Louisiana at the age of twenty-one that he really delved into his Cajun roots.

Webster’s Meat Market - Judy Huval and Pope Huval - Southern Boudin Trail

Webster’s Meat Market

Webster’s Meat Market is not far from Interstate 10, just a few miles north on Grandpoint Highway in Cecilia, Louisiana. Today there are two shelves of groceries, mostly limited to crackers and canned goods, near the entrance. To the left, there’s only one showcase, an antique cooler where patrons shop for fresh cuts of meat.

Babineaux's boudin_2

XTRA: Red Boudin

Red boudin, also known as boudin rouge or blood boudin, is a fading tradition in Acadiana. Only specially-licensed slaughterhouses are allowed to produce this generations-old delicacy. Babineaux’s in Breax Bridge, Louisiana, is one of the last commercial makers of red boudin in the area. Here, we offer a short photo essay to illustrate their process.