and stitched back together. The intestines were reserved for further use. Nothing was wasted. This was beyond nose to tail cooking, this was as-oft repeated, everything but the squeak; an intrinsic part of the Cajun culture. More coldbeer was emptied. A boucherie provides its own appetizers called cracklins. Immediately adjacent to the table, four enormous cast iron cauldrons were rendering lard stirred with a bladed paddle that would not be out of place in a garden. Bite-sized pieces of belly fat and meat were cubed. Into the cauldrons of bubbling lard they went and twice cooked. The second frying continued until they popped, or crackled, inside the vat. Once ready, they were seasoned with black pepper, red pepper and salt. Promptly removed, they were cooled on local newspapers and presented in cardboard beer boxes. Before the cracklins could be portioned into paper bags, to be eaten like popcorn, Andy and Dave had set down the filet and boning knives and moved to a large bone saw. In very short order the remaining pig was broken down into primal cuts, the tips of Dave’s fingers serving as a saw guide in a practiced hand over hand motion. The backbone was removed and brought inside the dance hall to Carl, who, by now, had been patiently tending to the roux for more than an hour. Backbone stew, according to Carl, is “all about the roux.” When asked how he learned he laughingly replied, “I learned this as a kid, just like you are seeing it.” Into the finished roux went some meat, onion tops, parsley, and turnips. It is the turnips he smilingly said that “make it richer.” While cooking, Carl reminisced of his family having a neighborhood boucherie at least once a month with the leftovers being divided among the families.
54 | spensermag.com | may.jun 2012