Boucherie / 03-04-2016

Boucherie–a community gathering in South Louisiana at which a hog is butchered and the meat is divided among all who share in the labor. In addition to the various foodways folk traditions that are practiced at a boucherie, it may also involve such musical traditions as Cajun and zydeco music.

In the old days, the pig was slaughtered in the winter days, in cold weather at a time where fridges didn’t exist. It is now a way to gather around a good beer with friends and family, far from the hard necessary labour of ancient times. Toby Rodriguez, the master butcher, used to be an art student at the Univeristy of Lafayette. He sees the Boucherie as a sculpture performance, actions of substruction, theater and melodrama resulting in beautiful boudin, another local speciality.

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Photos continue here.

The origins of Fried Chicken

One of my favourite things to do in the Southern States is road tripping. Obviously my life here is largely determined by the needs and whereabouts of the residents. If one of them wants/needs to undertake a road trip and time permits me to tag along I always do a little dance of joy. At the very start of the 2015 residency period, when Jacob Dwyer was the only resident that had arrived yet, our landlady Dawn DeDeaux needed to get some things from her studio in Fairhope, Alabama. Jacob, Maaike and me all jumped in the car and off we went.

Sunset at Fairhope

Sunset at Fairhope

Two things I like to do when road tripping in the U.S. are listening to the country radio channel and laugh about poetic gems like ‘She Cranks My Tractor’, ‘Redneck Crazy’ or ‘Drunk on a Plane’, and talking about food. Locals aren’t usually so into laughing about cheesy country songs and since Dawn was with us we spent the ride talking about food. Days before we had entered a discussion about which place in New Orleans served the best fried chicken, probably because the landmark closest to our new compound is a Popeyes. Now we were wondering where fried chicken actually comes from. Most U.S. foods can be traced back to European, African or even Asian dishes quite easily. For fried chicken none of us was very sure. It’s definitely one of the most popular foods in the South and we thought we might be on to one of the very few truly U.S. foods here!


Not entirely sure about this I did what we do these days in such situations: I searched Wikipedia. Turns out that fried chicken comes from Scotland and West Africa, two countries from which a very large part of the Southern people originally came. The Scots in search for freedom and independence, the people from several West African countries as slaves. Scots would fry chicken in lard unlike the rest of North Europe, where they would usually bake chicken. But the most important influence on the taste of fried chicken today came from the West African slaves: the spices in the batter. Slaves were usually allowed to keep a few chickens and they would fry them on special occasions, adding local spices to increase the flavour.

The rest of the trip we spent thinking of an original U.S. food that one could eat with class and dignity, without getting sauce and/or grease all over the place. We concluded at Waffle House eating bacon, eggs, hash browns and pecan waffles for breakfast. We did eat with knifes and forks.


Thunder Cheese Circle

A true addict speaking from the heart

This late summer I arrived early at Camp Abundance Bee Farm (Deltaworkers HQ for the coming years). After stepping into the compounds garden I received a warm welcome of Dawn DeDeaux, our land lady. Not only is Dawn DeDeaux a true New Orleanian and great artist but also the only female winner ever of the Demolition Derby at the Super Dome in New  Orleans. So she knows how to rock. The welcome this time was accompanied by Popeye’s fried chicken (more about that soon) but most important were the Old Fashioned and Thunder Cheese, the real smoothers at the compound.

Dawn DeDeaux

Old Fashioned is the first cocktail Joris and I ever drank in New Orleans. Dawn’s specific Old Fashioned recipe: whiskey, oranges, bitters, maraschino cherries and some magic that none of us campers will ever match.

On to the Thunder Cheese, another magic snack that is so overwhelming in taste that once your mouth has come in contact with it, t, this seductive devil keeps you on your seat craving for more and more and more.

Thunder Cheese is one of the simplest snacks you can imagine but like Dawn’s Old Fashioned’s, this cheese trickster uses magic in its combination of ingredients. Sharp Cheddar, Montery Jack, pecans, dash of mayonaise and a royal amount of red chili pepper flakes create heaven and kicks in like Thunder: Boom!

Thunder Cheese has a dubious history and is not easy to find. We keep its origins close to the city and belong to the group that believes its a true New Orleans recipe. Even though the recipe is online it is a tough one to find in stores around town. There is basically only one good supplier that keeps its secret pretty well hidden. Once you know it and taste it, you won’t share this source with everyone. I will also not do this here but am very happy to share some with you when back in New Orleans. Myths around its origin are conflicted. It might come from the first contacts between the Brits and the Tabasco family. More clear is the history of a few ingredients; the pecan from New Orleans / Louisiana, the red chilli pepper from the Tabasco farms, and the sharp cheddar from British cheddar that accidentally aged during the long trip from the UK to Avery Island. The more dubious ingredients are the Montery Jack cheese, which is already a mix between the spicy South and the cheesy Nnorth, and also the mayonaise (Spanish origins but the French made it the popular sauce) which basically is the basic lubricant in too many good dishes. Maybe the amount of mayo is where the magic of the taste and texture lies.
So if Thunder Cheese is born from the clash between different cultures, the lightning that comes with thunder could be the enlightened conversations that follow after eating this beloved and addictive snack.

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In the last months Thunder Cheese has proven to be the holy snack, that combined with misses Dawn’s Old Fashioned’s brings the best in all of us. It serves as the starter for wonderful conversations, heated discussions, artistic projects, juicy stories, pole dancing contests and sometimes even out of world experiences. Thunder Cheese is the true binder of exquisite tastes and our newly found god. We welcome our artists with Thunder Cheese and when the days are too sunny or too rainy, we bring a visit to our supplier to keep the campers calm and happy.

We thank you Thunder Cheese