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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

Henry Alfred


Gautreaux’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.” The Internet they advertise is actually a gambling parlor, and all the good food outside the noon lunch hour comes from the kitchen of the meat market, which is tucked in the front corner of the truck shop. The term “meat market” might be a bit misleading; customers won’t find a butcher at the Chevron or fresh cuts of pork chops. But they will find delicious boudin, hot and ready-to-eat, or packaged frozen for travel. And cracklins under the heat lamps are a regular offering.

Most days, Henry Alfred is staffing the kitchen. He makes the boudin, works the register, and occasionally fries up a hamburger on request. Though Alfred has been making boudin for years, after he partnered with friends in the meat market business, he’d rather talk about his real passion: horse racing. He starts his day at 4:30 a.m. to care for the horses he trains at the nearby track, and then later reports to Gautreaux’s to make boudin (though, by “later,” he really still means early morning). The end of each day requires a return trip to the stables to check on the horses again, and weekends are busy with races. When asked how he manages the boudin business on race weekends, Alfred confesses he has to make extra large batches of boudin during the week, in advance, to satisfy weekend customers.

Alfred claims to know most of his usual customers by name, but occasionally there’ll be strangers, whose shopping habits reveal them as out-of-state visitors. Locals, he claims, stop by Gautreaux’s and pick up a link of boudin for breakfast. Visitors look for biscuits.

Date of interview:
2009-02-17 00:00

Interviewer:
Mary Beth Lasseter

Photographer:
Mary Beth Lasseter

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