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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

Joseph Guidroz and Alvin Guidroz


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. His days start at 4 a.m. and end at 7 p.m., when things go according to plan. And though the hours are long, both men appreciate that they can work for themselves and their store can be a gathering place for the neighborhood.
And a popular gathering place it is; Guidroz Food Center is a neighborhood favorite, and walking inside is like stepping back in time. The butchers know their customers by name, and meat is cut to order. Boudin is made using a family recipe, and they sell hundreds of pounds of it each week. If it’s ordered “cold-to-go,” a gentleman behind the counter will wrap a few links in butcher paper, seal the package with masking tape, and offer a reminder not to boil the boudin, or else it’ll bust in the hot water and make a gumbo. The preferred cooking method, he’ll tell you, is to bring the water to a boil, turn off the heat, and then drop the links into the pot for two minutes to warm.

Of course, customers who want to leave the cooking to the Food Center can do that, too. Of all the boudin sold each week, most of it goes to hungry customers who eat it right inside the store. The hot food counter is an attraction and a gathering place, and on the lunch hour it’s not uncommon to see a line of customers extending halfway down the store, all the way past the bread aisle. There’s a changing daily menu of house cooked specialties, including local favorites. Red beans are offered on Monday, and cowboy stew is cooked on Thursdays and Saturdays. But don’t fear missing out: hot boudin links are offered every day.

Date of interview:
2009-01-23 00:00

Interviewer:
Mary Beth Lasseter

Photographer:
Mary Beth Lasseter

Download Transcript Download Transcript 2

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