Holy Smoke

I recently got a call from a good friend of mine from Eunice. He suggested we meet in Opelousas – the halfway point between our little Arnaudville brewery and his homestead’s smokehouse. He just emptied his smokehouse of several chaudins (stuffed pig stomachs) and was looking to trade one, along with some freshly smoked homemade sausages. We have a family crawfish pond, and I figured he wanted a couple of sacks of live ones in barter.

In South Louisiana, sacks of crawfish are legal tender – heck, they’re more important to our economy than the gold standard. Everything’s value can be measured in sacks of crawfish, so imagine my surprise when he turned down the two sacks, suggesting a couple of six packs of LA-31 for the trade instead – and this with crawfish prices hovering around two dollars a pound just prior to Good Friday.

I drove up to Opelousas and made the trade, visiting my old buddy for a while. Driving home, thinking of devouring that stuffed pig’s stomach, I amused myself, “LA-31’s value on the currencies market was going up!”

That night my mother smothered the chaudin with a bunch of chopped onions – man what a nice brown gravy it made. Nearby was a rice cooker with what looked like too much rice and a pot of white beans and also a giant platter of cucumbers. We all ate like it was Thanksgiving – that very rich and smoky chaudin was the best I ever remember eating. Those produced in our part of Acadiana are usually fresh, however this one (like most made in the area of Acadiana from Eunice to Ville Platte), was smoked.

Don’t tell my good friend Justin that I will gladly give him three six packs for another chaudin. Crawfish prices however, are headed south thanks to Lent’s end.

Our little brewery had a ribbon cutting ceremony last week, and we treated the assembled guests and dignitaries to a surprise keg of our second beer – Boucanee. Like the chaudins from the Cajun neighbors just north us, this beer is smoked. My brothers and I figured a few of our guests would be sampling one or two from the keg, leaving plenty for us for the weekend.

Unfortunately for our weekend plans, that keg of Boucanee did not make it thru the ribbon cutting.

Everyone there drank several pints of our cherry-wood smoked wheat beer. Russell’s, our local grocery store prepared for us a large platter of delicious finger sandwiches and rushing, I put together some pinchos, which are small, two or three ingredient appetizers that are served on tiny wooden spears in the bars of the Basque region of Spain. Our colorful platter had salami, olives, mozzarella balls, roasted red pepper strips, pickled okra, old fashioned ham, shrimp, Fontina cheese, dried mission figs, and marinated artichoke hearts pared in several interesting combinations. The smoky Boucanee beer complemented everything it was paired with.

Our Priest, Father Brown started the day out by blessing our little brewery, and we enjoyed the visit from so many of our friends, family and early supporters – and we all clearly enjoyed the good food and beer. We were reminded about the things that are really important in Acadiana.

And we learned that a stuffed pig’s stomach and a wheat beer both taste better when they have been smoked.