I’ve been eating my way through Jazz Fest this year, revisiting old favorites from the food vendors and also experimenting with the potential of dishes from different booths joining forces on the plate.
But another defining aspect of Jazz Fest is the way people make the event their own, bringing their own style and rituals to the experience.
In that spirit, these mash up noshes started with cracklin’ and cochon de lait and soon led to boudin, especially boudin balls.
Served up at Food Area I by Papa Ninety, a caterer out of Belle Chasse, these boudin balls are spicy and moist and well seasoned under their crunchy outer shells. They’re perfect on their own, or with a dab of Creole mustard. For something different, however, I walked them over to the Kids Area, where the Joyce’s Lemonade stand serves a good old-fashioned grilled cheese sandwich. It’s a helpful kid’s meal or an innocent, straightforward snack. Until you add boudin balls.
This combination owes a debt of inspiration to Johnson’s Boucaniere, an excellent Cajun smokehouse and eatery in Lafayette. They make great boudin, and they use it across the menu, including in the “parrain special,” a boudin-stuffed grilled cheese.
At Jazz Fest, the grilled cheese are cooked up to order and tucked into wax paper bags. They are as homey as it gets. But peel back the white bread, mash a boudin ball down into the gooey yellow American cheese, press it back together and you have an Acadiana-Americana original.
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.