Home System concept Creole classics at Vaucresson’s Sausage Company – Culinary Backstreets

Creole classics at Vaucresson’s Sausage Company – Culinary Backstreets

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The scorching April sun — yes April — in New Orleans is an indicator of two things: climate change and the start of festival season. In other parts of the country, warm days and cool nights and the gradual blooming of trees and flowers define spring. But in southeast Louisiana, spring seems to supernova into summer overnight despite what the calendar claims; nothing is subtle here. And under that scorching sun, one of the mainstays of festival season, Vaucresson’s Sausage Company, run by owner Vance Vaucresson, sells its hot sausage po’ boy to legions of admirers.

Vaucresson’s has been at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival for fifty years and is the only original vendor still there. It’s also a favorite at the French Quarter Festival, where its Jackson Square stand has long lines and stacked bags of Leidenheimer French bread, the crusty but productive bread the perfect delivery system for the spicy sausage. At first glance, it looks like a simple sandwich, lightly seasoned with lettuce and tomatoes, with the option of hot sauce, mayonnaise and Creole mustard. But like many things in New Orleans, its simplicity belies the rich tradition of the 7th Arrondissement’s Creole families and their influence on the city’s cuisine and culture. And with a reconstructed building about to open at the corner of Avenue N. Roman and Avenue Saint-Bernard, Vaucresson, in business since 1899, is set to carry the Creole torch for another 100 years.

“What I wanted to do was take two of our historic concepts and merge them into one,” Vaucresson told us recently. “In the mid-1960s, my father opened a restaurant on Bourbon Street – at 624 Bourbon St – called Vaucresson’s Café Creole. We stayed there for ten years and eventually moved on. But it was the first restaurant on Bourbon Street to be owned by a person of color after the reconstruction.

We were in the kitchen of his soon-to-be-opened cafe in the same location where his family’s sausage factory was located before Katrina.

“And then, my family, for 120 years, we have been in the 7th arrondissement district on Avenue Saint-Bernard. My grandfather was a butcher by trade, then my father took over the meat market with his brothers-in-law. We have therefore always had a commercial presence in the 7th arrondissement.

This commercial presence dates back to the turn of the 20th century, when a system of open-air markets dominated the New Orleans landscape. The market system started with the French Market in the French Quarter and spread throughout the city. Before markets, vendors typically sold their wares anywhere and everywhere, under the hot sun and often in unsanitary conditions. Markets enabled centralization, regulation and, above all, taxation. The Vaucresson family got their start at the St. Bernard Market at the corner of Avenue N. Claiborne and Avenue St. Bernard, now home to the Circle Food Store. From there, the family moved to St. Bernard Avenue before finally settling in the current location just before Hurricane Katrina.

“My dad opened on the corner of Roman and St. Bernard, it wasn’t a meat market per se, but he wanted to elevate and have an inspectors processing facility,” says Vaucresson. “He wanted the sausages to go to grocery stores, but once Katrina came along, that was the last business entity we had there.”

Images of the St. Bernard Corridor during and after Hurricane Katrina, with water engulfing The Circle Food Store, are shocking to this day. The relentlessness of the water, which held out for weeks, forever changed the fortunes of so many. In post-Flood New Orleans, Vaucresson’s old building lay fallow, the bright murals on the side of its distinctive gold winkle fading and the store’s brown awning moldy and torn. Like Bachemin’s Meat Market and The Circle Food Store, it seemed like a part of New Orleans history that would never be reclaimed. But Vance Vaucresson never lost hope.

“We held [this location], and eventually looked for an opportunity to come back in a way that would be relevant,” says Vaucresson. “We decided to do a retail, cafe/delicatessen concept.”

The star of this concept, of course, is hot sausage, which is a staple of New Orleans’ black Creole community.

“The Creole hot sausage, or as it’s traditionally called, the Creole chaurice, is one of the most popular sausages in town,” says Vaucresson. “Traditionally, charice is made with pork.”

Unlike Patton’s Beef Patties that dominate the convenience store po’ boy kingdom, Vaucresson’s Hot Pork Sausage is far juicier, with complex flavor, better texture, and an appealing red hue from the paprika and cayenne pepper. . Vaucresson compares it to its Spanish cousin chorizo, although much spicier.

It may seem like an ambitious concept for a deli corner in a building that was once an Italian grocery store, but for Vaucresson, understanding this cultural tapestry is key to understanding the city.

In addition to the hot sausage, Vaucresson has planned a menu of New Orleans classics built around quality ingredients.

“We’re going to do our traditional po’boys, as well as some of the traditional po’boys that people are used to — shrimp, oysters, real catfish, roast beef — things people expect,” Vaucresson says. “But we will also have other traditional dishes specific to our culture, like grilled meats and oatmeal, Calas, French toast and things like that.”

Above all, Vance Vaucresson is an educator and expert in the food traditions of the New Orleans Creole community.

“Our main mission is that when we roll out these culturally significant foods, we will also educate people about their origin story, their contributions from the different ethnicities that passed through this port, settled here and influenced our culture,” said Vaucresson.

It may seem like an ambitious concept for a deli corner in a building that was once an Italian grocery store, but for Vaucresson, understanding this cultural tapestry is key to understanding the city.

“If you’re going to eat okra with okra, or anything with okra, we’ll let you know that okra is an African staple that made its way to Spain, and eventually here,” says Vaucressson. “If we’re talking about making breaded meat, which is a term that means breading, we’re going to talk about how the breaded influence is part of the Italian tradition. The 7th arrondissement, people have to realize, historically was a very mixed community. You had white French Creoles living alongside Irish, Italian immigrants, Creoles of color, so you had influences from all of our cultures that found their way into our food.

The creolization of New Orleans foodways is a rich and complex subject, and Vaucresson is keen to set the record straight.

“One of the biggest questions I get at festivals,” Vaucresson says, is “What’s the difference between Cajun and Creole,” and I answer them, “None.” Cajun is a subset of Creole. The Acadian Creoles, who extrapolated their culture out of the Creole culture in order to be able to promote it singularly without any of the other peoples who were part of it, mystify me. Anyone born in this region is a Creole. You have French Creoles. Spanish Creoles. Then you also have the Irish and Italian hoops. More recently, we looked at the Vietnamese community. And the Filipino community, which is the oldest Asian community in the United States. If we knew this history, we would know so much more about our culture and how everyone has contributed to its development.

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