Boudin, cracklin’, tasso and hogshead cheese – they all come from the Louisiana butcher shop, and they appear on lots of menus these days too. But before all that, they came from the boucherie.

A tradition of rural life in Louisiana, this was a communal event for neighboring families to share the labor and rewards of slaughtering a hog. The approach was nose to tail by necessity, and beyond the hams and chops the fastidious use of the entire animal led to a roster of specialties.

Today, a boucherie is part feast and part educational tool, a ritual of remembrance to reconnect with regional traditions. Usually conducted on private farms or other invite-only events, this weekend brings a uniquely public version at Central City BBQ with a leading practitioner of the tradition, the Lafayette-based butcher Toby Rodriguez.

Over two days (Nov. 18 and 19), the sprawling, shipping container-lined grounds of Central City BBQ will have different types of traditional Cajun food for sale, a demonstration of butchering techniques and a mix of DJs and Cajun bands, with Lost Bayou Ramblers headlining on Sunday evening.

Roots rival

A decade ago, Rodriguez and fellow Acadian roots revivalists started hosting boucherie events through a collective called Lâche Pas Boucherie et Cuisine. The name translates to “hold on” or “don’t let go,” which Rodriguez ties to efforts to preserve Cajun heritage. 

Using traditional tools and methods, the Lâche Pas boucherie leaves little to the imagination, as a pig that started the day alive is broken down and prepared into a dozen a more different ways. A deep dark backbone stew and the organ stew fraisseurs are among the creations, next to the better-known sausages and cracklin’.

Interest in the work of Lâche Pas skyrocketed after food TV star Anthony Bourdain included a boucherie in an episode of his “No Reservations” show. Rodriguez, who also runs the Lafayette plate lunch joint Acadian Superette, has since conducted boucheries and classes for chefs and butchers around the country, including an edition in St. Bernard Parish in 2015.

This weekend’s boucherie at Central City BBQ takes place over two days. On Saturday (Nov. 18), the crew will begin by slaughtering the hog on site and butchering the animal along the traditional lines of the boucherie. While the hog is prepared on Saturday, other food including smoked meat jambalaya and boiled shrimp will be available for sale.

Day two, Sunday, brings dishes and pork products prepared from the hog, sold from various stations around the grounds. Look for the boucherie standards of boudin blanc and boudin noir (blood boudin), sausages, cracklin', headcheese, backbone fricassee (a dark-roux pottage made from the backstrap) and fraisseurs (an organ stew). Because organizers are expecting more people than a single hog would feed, the dishes will be supplemented by more sausage, boudin, head cheese and ham po-boys prepared apart from the boucherie. Central City BBQ will also be open for business throughout the event.

There will be live music and DJs playing outside around the grounds each day, including Sunday’s 5 p.m. set by the Lost Bayou Ramblers, a band that puts traditional Louisiana sound through its own lens.

Tickets are $10 per day ($5 for children), with $100 VIP tickets for two-day access with food and drink included.

Central City BBQ

1201 S. Rampart St., 504-558-4276

Boucherie is Saturday, 8 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m.-10 p.m. 

Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter, @IanMcNultyNOLA.