Mary Tutwiler

Stuffed: judging the Boudin Cook-off

by Mary Tutwiler

I was looking forward to Saturday morning, but underlying that emotion was an undercurrent of dread. Like everybody I know, I love boudin. Nothing gives me more pleasure than to head out on the road on a Saturday morning, looking for a link or two, some good coffee, and the newspaper, (the real paper paper), the better to indulge in my desire to wallow in an overload of fascinating trivia and grease.

But Saturday offered a serious set of challenges. Number one, I had stayed out way too late Friday night, grooving to the funky New Orleans rhythms of John Cleary. Number two, overindulging in the refreshments department. Number three, I ran out of coffee. Number four, running late, I didn’t have time to pick up a newspaper. But all of these paled before the prospect of eating 18 links of boudin.

That’s the challenge of judging a boudin cook-off. I kept telling myself that boudin is the finest hangover food known to woman. I kept wishing someone would make me a cup of coffee. I took my seat at the table.

When you’re hungry, everything tastes good. The first link I tasted rated an A+ on my grading chart. So did the second, A, A, A-, B+, B, I was starting to get full. Starting to chow down a little less, leave some boudin (normally a travesty) behind. By the time we got to link number 10, my face was so greasy I gave up on mopping with a paper towel. By about number 15 my cheeks and nose were red and my eyes felt buggy. “Keep on going, keep on going,” I told myself. If you think those guys in the boudin eating contest have it tough, think again. Pity the poor judges with their swollen bellies and fat-filled brains.

The links kept on coming. I was delirious. What was worse, sitting right next to me, King Rob, a boudin eater extraordinaire, was happily chomping away, making hilarious comments, asking for seconds and filling up a go box to take home. “I’m dying,” I gasped, “how can you keep on eating?” “Mais, I like boudin, cher,” he said. And took another bite.

We finished. We filed our forms. The winners wouldn’t be announced until late afternoon. I went home to lie down.

When the numbers came in there were very few surprises. Many of my favorites came out on top, even though I didn’t know which boudin was which, it’s a blind tasting, when we were judging.

Here’s the results:

Traditional boudin: 1. Don’s Speciality Meats, Scott, 2. Best Stop, Scott, 3. a tie between NuNu’s, Youngsville and Janise’s, Sunset.

Unlinked boudin: 1. Johnson’s Boucaniere, Lafayette, 2. Shawn’s Speciality Meats, Delcambre, 3. NuNus.

Speciality boudin: 1. Mike’s Country Corner, Duson, 2. NuNu’s, 3. Chadeaux’s Cajun Kitchen, Kinder.

People’s Choice: 1. NuNu’s, 2. T-Boy’s, Mamou.

I do have a new fave to add to my list. After we finished judging, I took a moment to poke around and find out who I gave that A+ to. It was Kelly’s, from Opelousas. Hot, greasy, peppery and well balanced between the rice and the meat, with a nice casing that snapped between my teeth. Mmmmm. Heck, it’s Monday, I’ve recovered from my boudin hangover. Time to hit the road for another link.