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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region.

ORAL HISTORY

Daven Hulen


Chop’s 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.

Chop’s began as a modest-sized metal building, and as business grew they added on—and on, and on. Custumers walk into the storefront, where meat cases and coolers are packed with stuffed chickens, sausages, and boudin. A few grocery shelves sell white bread, pickled quail eggs, and Cajun pills—an invention that encapsulates Cajun spices in pill form so they’re easier to stuff into meats. A fresh meats case is across the back, where customers order specialty cuts or get a link of hot boudin to go. Through the doors behind the meat counter is a giant kitchen, where Chop’s prepares its daily catering orders, and out back is an elaborate sheltered set-up where they handle all of the outdoor cooking: boiled crawfish, fried cracklins, and boil pots for pork boudin. It’s a windy path from the front doors to the back.

Daven Hulen, the store manager, meat-cutter, boudin maker, and head caterer, is a busy man. In his early thirties, he’s also one of the younger guys making boudin these days. He started in the specialty meats business when his brother-in-law helped land him a job, and he has stayed in it since. He now manages Chop’s for the owner, Jeff Delahoussaye. Daven says that he enjoys his work, which is a good because his days are long—a twelve hour shift is more common than not. When asked about boudin, he explains it simply: “rice and gravy in a casing.” And it’s simply good.

Date of interview:
2009-02-18 00:00

Interviewer:
Mary Beth Lasseter

Photographer:
Mary Beth Lasseter

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