Say it with me now: The Central Grocery muffuletta. Luckily, it wasn't a Monday. J. Alfred Prufrock may have measured out his life in coffee spoons—mine could be described as a timeline of muffulettas.
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After a long day of eating on the road, we pulled into New Orleans around dinnertime, looking forward to a relaxing sit-down meal and a chance to stretch our legs. We met up with local food writer Pableaux Johnson and headed over to a funky neighborhood joint called Liuzza's on the corner of Beinville and S. Telemachus in Mid-City. Serving New Orleans-style Italian cookery since the 1940s, Liuzza's has a chill-spot ambiance that invites you to kick back with a frosted schooner of Abita ale—just what we needed.
Our first round of boudin at The Best Stop hit the spot, but there's no way I was going to pass up a crawfish link at Poche's in Breaux Bridge. It's somewhat of a local institution—the current joint has been around since the 1960s, but the family business started with Antoine Poché four generations back.
It finally reached that point in every Texas-to-Mississippi road trip where we had to get our boudin on. My dad and I went to one of our longtime favorites, down the road from Don's Specialty Meats in Scott, and literally called "The Best Stop." Aptly named, I assure you. Boudin is, all told, somewhat of an ambiguous term.
Don's Specialty Meats has been serving cracklins, po' boys, boudin and other meaty treats in South Louisiana since the early 1990s. About five years back, they opened a second location in Scott, right off of I-10. I'd never been, but my dad said their cracklins were always hot and some of the best he'd ever had. I tend to trust his judgment on these things. If you've never had cracklins before, imagine this: big, hearty chunks of bacon deep-fried and tossed in Cajun seasoning, served piping hot. Now stop drooling on your keyboard.
Our first stop on the Texas-to-Mississippi trail was Rao's Bakery (pronounced ray-ohs) in Beaumont, Texas. Rao's is famous for Mardi Gras king cake, but we were after their sausage-stuffed Texas kolaches. We ordered one Zummo brand Italian with jalapeño, one Zummo with cheese, and one plain Jimmy Dean and ate them on the road with our coffee. Kolaches are a Texas roadtripper's best friend. They're good hot or cold, sweet or savory, and they're mighty easy to eat with one hand.