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Where Y’Eat: After Hurricane Ida, a Louisiana Food Tradition is Smoking Again

Ian McNulty
LaPlace celebrates its favorite sausage at the Andouille Festival each fall, when many other Louisiana towns host their own distinctive food festivals.

By generator power, Dale Cox reopened his third-generation family butcher shop Cox’s Meat Market in Reserve just two days after Hurricane Ida ripped through this River Parishes community. Soon after, by the power of pecan wood and tradition, he stared smoking andouille sausage again.

Cox’s dates to 1933 on River Road, right by the levee. Its signature product, andouille, is linked to a history going back much further, particularly in the River Parishes.

Today, a circuit of small butcher shops carry on that tradition, and they’re now fighting their way back from Ida.

While andouille sausage is now a grocery store staple - at least around Louisiana - the type produced in the River Parishes stands apart as a regional specialty. The classic examples are thick, dark and deeply smoky.

It's the bedrock ingredient of Louisiana black pot cooking, especially gumbo and jambalaya.

The best-known keepers of this tradition are in LaPlace, which proclaims itself the “andouille capital of the world." It was one of the communities ravaged by Ida.

Jacob’s World Famous Andouille is a small shop with wide renown, with roots going back to 1928. Despite storm damage, Jacob's quickly came back, selling meats over the counter, and shipping them to Louisiana ex-pats nationwide.

Bailey’s Andouille just next door was able to open three weeks after the storm.

Closer to the river, Wayne Jacob’s Smokehouse remains temporarily closed after losing a big portion of its roof. Reopening hinges on insurance and rebuilding, but at Wayne Jacob’s they hope to be back for Thanksgiving.

That would be clutch timing.

While andouille is a year-round product, it’s prime time is now, the stretch between football season and the holidays when this heritage product goes into so many regional heritage dishes, from tailgates to the table at family gatherings.

There are hard times ahead through Ida recovery, but at least one homegrown staple of Louisiana comfort food is smoking again.

Ian covers food culture and dining in New Orleans through his weekly commentary series Where Y’Eat.