Cajun Cooking

Boudin Balls or Boudain Balls?

Spelling error? Or regional variation?

By Robb Walsh August 23, 2013

Boudin balls and jalapeño poppers make an eye-opening breakfast combo. I brought some back to the office from Burt's Meat Market in the Fifth Ward. They were gone before I could send out the email saying come and get some. 

I think Burt's makes the best boudin balls in the city—tender, greaseless, and beautifully fried. Funny thing, though: they spell it "boudain." I always assumed it was a mistake in spelling, but that spelling is repeated at the Nickel sandwich shop a few blocks down Lyons and in other places all over Houston.

In France, boudin means blood sausage. In Cajun country, there are two boudins. Boudin noir is similar to the original French blood sausage. Boudin blanc, made with pork, spicy seasonings, rice, and sometimes milk, resembles a rice dressing stuffed into sausage casings. It is boudin blanc that has become popular in our part of the world.

A little research suggests "boudain" isn't really a spelling error. According to food etymologist Barry Popick's blog: "Boudain" is the frequently used Texas spelling for "boudin," a spicy Cajun sausage popular in Louisiana. The spelling has an established history in Cajun East Texas. Popick includes citations from the Port Arthur News going back as far as 1965.

He also cites no less an authority than Frank X. Tolbert, who had this to say about boudain in the Dallas Morning News in 1977: "Boudain is a very spicy Cajun sausage. In the ring are pork and rice and red pepper and hot pepper. (In my French dictionary, it is 'boudin,' and it means a number of things from a saddle bag to sausage. The Cajuns speak an 18th-century French, though, and they spell it 'boudain.')"

How do you spell it?



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