Louisiana Lundi Gras Boucherie
Our newsletter set the stage for "how" we ended up in Louisiana for our Acadiana food and culture immersion. Biggest bow of gratitude to Chris 'Mac' and Kelly Mckenzie of Mac's Local for the invite, arranging logistics and allowing us to tag along for this adventure. When talking to Mac about the Boucherie, you can rely on his quote handed down from Toby: "It's not only about the pig, it's about people - community." We are keepers of the stories for our people, passing on traditions; carrying a culture that is true to our soul being, dare I say, stored in our cell memory. I had said in our newsletter, "We are always singing over bones, using our soul's voice to tell stories..." that's probably why we were enamored with the culture around the Boucherie. And from first-hand experience, I can tell you that's absolutely what it's about.
Our time was spent with Bryan Kyzar and crew at Lakeview Park and Beach, some of them former chefs with Toby Rodriquez's Lache Pas Boucherie. We were welcomed to the park and beach by Kyzar and family who own the grounds. There is a huge barn that sits on the backside of the property and serves as a music venue and event space. Nothing short of a honky-tonk good time, backwoods club preserving the culture of a Louisiana Saturday night. We experienced a culture preserving its roots - its heritage. As part of a collective farming heritage; we are in the business of sustaining our old world breed of animals and heirloom crops, growing them as close to its wild counterpart as possible. I like to think we are laying groundwork on how we will be able to move forward. Self-sufficient, resilient and community-based.
I can't think of a time I was taken care of so well other than by my own immediate family. Eliza had a mud bog at one of the events, initiated and facilitated by our little "puddle jumper," a nickname Lou (Acadiana Legend) gave her. She was covered in mud and soaked head to toe in the rain, having the time of her life but the fun started not to 'be so fun' anymore. I hosed her off and was taking her back to the truck to scrounge some clothes. I'm not the mom with the snack packs or extra clothes, but I'll not feel mom-shamed at this moment; just loved and taken care of. We passed a van with the hatch open as we walked down the gravel path to the truck and I hear a new found friend ask if I had clothes for her. I stumbled over my words and said I'm sure I have something. She said point-blank, "Do you have clothes for her or not?" It was simple, and I did not. I was ushered to the van while she pulled out a shirt and shorts and said, "I got you Mama, you don't have to do this on your own." We all have different experiences and certain situations that strike us. This one let me know there was a strong vibrant community in which taking care of one another was a priority, including me.
If I were to be transparent with you, there is one step in the process of raising animals for meat that is tough. The kill. We harvest our animals on-farm if it is for our use and butcher them with Eric's Aunt and Uncle at their house on the weekend, much in line with rural traditions of groups of people working together, coordinated in a task of feeding family and friends. The kill is part of the Boucherie, and it's a very humbling experience. The most striking practice, for us, was the use of the sage for the animal and the people that would aid in its transcendence from life to death. The slaughter is the first step in a long line of preparations for the day. A humane and fatal shot is made between the eyes, well placed to ensure a quick death. Then the animal is cut and bled out; the blood is collected to make boudin rouge. Nothing goes to waste. Once the animal is scalded and scraped, careful attention is paid to harvesting organs and entrails to make specialty dishes. Skilled knife-work breaks down the rest of the animal, a trade passed from generation to generation including recipes using every last piece of the animal. Too much? That's kind of the point. To be real. To recognize and honor the interdependence of the life-death cycle.
"In truth, we depend on all of the creatures in this world. For in order to survive, we humans must consume plants and animals - life must be taken so we can live. It is only with this awareness that we learn humility and find balance. Our lives are to be in a circle, not in a square, nor a straight line." - Black Elk
Our Lundi Gras Boucherie was followed by Courir de Mardi Gras chicken run rounding out our southern Louisiana trip. Two words for Cajun Mardi Gras: Forget Beads. This rural tradition required special costumes and a briefing two days before the run. It's too much to tackle in this blog, Bon Mardi Gras! We are back home and rested ready to hit the road again this week. We are part of the Missouri delegation group going to MOSES Organic farming conference with Earthdance Farms. Our calendar is filling up this spring. Special events, festivals, and classes.
Our cast iron cooking class is this Sunday, February 25th in collaboration with theeverydaygoodlifeco. Still time to sign up! Good thing she is my sister, I won't be back from MOSES yet. She'll be on her own is what I meant by 'collaboration,' what are little sisters' good for if not for this!