Highway 61 Food Mart
1523 Highway 61
Port Hudson, Louisiana
“Lord, that 61 Highway, it’s the longest road I know” -“Mississippi” Fred McDowell
One of the coolest things about being a proud American traveler is actually visiting the very places ingrained in the DNA of America.
I contemplated this aspect of my traveling life as I barreled down famed Highway 61 somewhere near the Mississippi/Louisiana border, my stomach growling.
As it turns out, if you’re hungry and looking for something to eat while driving down the road, the southern end of Highway 61 isn’t a bad place to be.
Especially if you have the appropriate music.
There are enough songs about Highway 61, known as The Blues Highway, to make up an entire playlist.
From Bob Dylan’s hometown near the Canadian border, to the Mississippi crossroads where Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil, all the way “down to the Gulf of Mexico,” the famous “Blues Highway” has symbolized the aspirational nature of Americans for decades.
This was the road through the cottonfields of the Delta to the bright lights of Memphis, St. Louis, St. Paul, and beyond – traveled by so many of the pioneers of American music and culture.
And here I am, a white guy in a suit, driving a silver Nissan Cube rental, traveling this legendary road on a Wednesday afternoon with the window rolled down, listening to my various versions of “Highway 61”.
Life is good.
Except for the fact that I have no time to stop and eat today.
I have exactly four hours to drive 90 miles up Highway 61 from Baton Rouge for a one hour meeting in Natchez, Mississippi, then drive 90 miles back to catch a flight to Atlanta.
Then connect to another flight to Detroit.
That’s why I believe God invented boudin for days just like this.
Boudin is as much a part of Louisiana’s famous cuisine as jambalaya and etouffee. But you won’t find boudin on many fancy French Quarter menus.
That’s because boudin isn’t restaurant food. It’s roadside gas station food.
Truckers, crawfish farmers, and alligator wrastlers grab a link or two from the truck stops, gas stations, and meat markets across Louisiana whenever they get a hankerin’.
A hankerin’ for what, exactly?
I’m glad you asked.
Boudin is chopped up pig parts mixed with rice and Cajun spices, served hot in pig intestine.
Yup, it’s Cajun sausage.
The texture can be a bit off-putting for boudin virgins.
This isn’t your momma’s dense South Georgia smoked sausage.
Boudin is soft and squishy, more like a Taco Bell bean burrito.
But all that pork and rice innards pack a wonderful flavor wallop.
No trip to Louisiana, no matter how brief, is complete without a hot link of boudin.
As I zoomed down Blues Highway with Moreland & Arbuckles’ version of “61 Highway” blasting from my ridiculous looking rental, I caught a sign advertising boudin out of the corner of my eye.
The sign was in front of a roadside gas station, next to the railroad tracks somewhere just south of St. Francisville.
Swerving my Cube on two wheels across two lanes of oncoming traffic, I knew I had five minutes to top off my tank and grab a fresh link before facing the crotch-gropers at the Baton Rouge Airport.
I quickly discovered that besides the display of warm Cajun sausages by the cash register, Highway 61 Food Mart is just like any other gas station in America.
Stocked with beer, soft drinks, and candy bars – and owned and operated by some dude from India. Definitely not the Cajun roadside experience I was expecting. . .
Oh well, at least the great thing about boudin is you can eat it with one hand.