Anthony Bourdain in Cajun Country
by Erin Z. Bass
A few weeks ago, I heard Travel Channel star and chef Anthony Bourdain was going to be in Lafayette filming for his show, “No Reservations.” I didn’t know exactly when he’d be here, but figured the local rumor mill would start to churn once he arrived. On Friday afternoon, a few people tweeted they’d seen him at Tsunami Sushi downtown. It didn’t take long for y’all to wonder why Anthony Bourdain was eating sushi instead of a poboy or bowl of gumbo, and he actually replied to a few tweets saying he’d only had a beer. To further clarify, he and his crew were staying in the lofts above the restaurant, and Tsunami does serve a crawfish roll.
There was no need to worry though. On Bourdain’s agenda for Saturday was an all-day boucherie at Lakeview Park in Eunice that included the 6 a.m. butchering of a pig. For those of you not from South Louisiana, a boucherie is an old tradition of making use of all parts of a pig before there were freezers and refrigerators. In communities like Eunice and Mamou, west of Lafayette, neighbors got together and spent the day killing and cleaning the hog, stuffing sausage and using other parts to make things like cracklin and hogshead cheese.
If you think about it, a tradition like this is a great fit for “No Reservations.” South Louisiana may not be a foreign country like Cambodia or Nicaragua, but it definitely has its own distinct culture. Boucheries and other local happenings, like Cajun Mardi Gras for example, bring the community together, keep a tradition alive and result in great local cuisine at the end of the day. I think it’s safe to say that for “Tony” it’s all about the cuisine. While he did seem hot and tired in the 90-degree heat, he was also excited about the cracklin coming out of the grease and boudin made from pig’s blood. See our YouTube video of the scene here.
Those of you who watch HBO’s “Treme” may have noticed that Bourdain is consulting on this season’s episodes dealing with restaurants. That’s probably why creator David Simon (that’s him with the bald head in the pic) tagged along with him on Saturday, partaking in the tray of cracklin and sitting in on a jam session inside the Lakeview Barn. I know there was a fais do do dance scheduled for that night, and Bourdain and his crew attended a crawfish boil yesterday, but we’ll have to wait until the episode comes out to see how Cajun Country is really depicted.
Many of you expressed concern about the stereotypes (“Swamp People” comes to mind here) that always seem to result when film crews come down here, but after witnessing Saturday’s activities and having seen Bourdain’s show in the past, I’m not worried. I know the Cajuns involved worked just as hard to make sure that didn’t happen as they did butchering the pig.
“No Reservations” in South Louisiana airs August 29 at 8/9 p.m. Here’s a few things to keep an eye out for:
1. A communal bottle of Jameson
2. Chef Pat Mould
3. The Red Stick Ramblers
4. David Simon on mandolin
5. Bourdain’s response to cracklin: “Perfection.”