City Breaks, Educational Adventures, Featured, Foodie Travel

Educational Eats: That Time I Had to Google My Lunch

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And so it came to pass that I spent my last lunch in New Orleans at Ralph’s on the Park, a lovely little restaurant overlooking City Park.  Having spent the morning on a swamp tour and the early afternoon traipsing about the Spanish-moss-strewn park, I was actually pretty hungry by the time I arrived at Ralph’s (a sensation I am not accustomed to experiencing while in New Orleans as I typically eat at least three courses every four hours or so).

I also happened to be getting a bit tired of seafood at this point (gasp!  Don’t worry–I got over it by dinner this same day) so I ordered one of my favorite things ever–fried chicken.  On the menu, it is described thus:

Fried chicken wrapped in country ham, crisp collards, red eye gravy, red bean puree, and boudin balls.  

This was not your grandma’s fried chicken.  It was much, much better.  And it was floating on what I assumed was red-eye gravy and accompanied by what I assumed were boudin balls.  But I had absolutely no idea what either of those things were when I ordered them.

Both the gravy and the boudin balls were too good to be good-for-you–or even not-gross (you’ll recall my stunning Montreal foie gras realization of 2012).  So I did what any normal iPhone-toting travel blogger would do–I put down my fork and Googled ‘red-eye gravy’ and ‘boudin’ in turn.

Fun with Food Vocabulary

Boudin, I discovered, was a kind of sausage.  I breathed a sigh of relief to learn that no goose had been force-fed to create such a delicious creation.  Upon deeper research–that is, after I returned home–I learned that boudin balls are an actual thing.  According to Wikipedia, they are ‘a Cajun variation on boudin blanc (boudin blanc: a white sausage made of pork without the blood); instead of the filling being stuffed into casings, it is rolled into a ball, battered, and deep fried.

Do you know what makes sausage better?  Rolling it into a ball, battering it, and deep frying it.

Red-eye gravy, served here on white china and linen, is actually a poor-man’s gravy.  It is made from the drippings of any kind of pork product–typically country ham–and coffee.  I learned that by Googling.  Red-eye gravy is also delicious, particularly when combined with boudin balls and crispy-fried collard greens.  I learned that at Ralph’s on the Park.

As a used-to-be die-hard Food Network fan (and admitted Top Chef junkie), I’m always surprised and delighted when I happen upon a food item or dish I’ve never experienced–or even heard of–before.  At Ralph’s on the Park, I was served two on one plate, along with a piece of the juiciest fried chicken I’ve ever tasted.  I count that as an lunch well-spent.

See–I knew New Orleans could be educational.  Deliciously, deliciously educational.

Disclosure:  I was graciously hosted by Ralph’s on the Park.  But, as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.  Except, in this case only, the information that came from Wikipedia.  That could be all wrong, for all that I know.  Perhaps boudin is actually ground-up horse feet.  Even so–it’s really good and I highly recommend it.

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