Saturday, November 1, 2008

Ode to the Onion Ring

Once in awhile we are fortunate to come upon an eatery that elicits raves. And sometimes in those eateries there is a dish that moves one to literary expression.

There it was—a modest shack with an immodest name: Boudin King. Located in Crowley, LA, the King served gumbo (chicken and sausage, seafood) po’ boys (oyster, shrimp, catfish, and sausage), platters (stuffed shrimp, catfish, oyster, shrimp, and the mixed seafood), and boudin (hot, cold, or frozen).

The first time we ate here, Kate ordered the shrimp po’ boy and I ordered the catfish po’ boy. After we had placed our order, Kate noticed the plate of onion rings that another customer had ordered. We quickly revised our order, but we couldn’t wait for the onion rings to begin our meal.

Midway through our meal, the onion rings arrived—perfection to the eye and the taste buds. I raved about these and was moved to put my thoughts into a poem.

We quickly made plans to return the next day, so we could take a photograph with the complete meal (of course). This time Kate ordered the seafood platter (four fried oysters, one stuffed shrimp, two fried shrimp, and four good-size fried catfish strips) and fried okra; Mr. “I-found-something-I-like-so-stay-with-it” had my catfish po’ boy and fries. (When you consider this meal, look beyond the common characteristic of “fried.”)

And that glorious small order of onion rings.

I had the beginnings of my tribute to the onion rings composed, so we brought along an onion to use in this photograph. Finding onion rings in a restaurant that are as good as Kate's was both surprising and inspirational. Hence, the following:


Behold! The onion transformed:
from multi-layered orb
with a menacing bite
and tears of pain--
through many a cut,
a buttermilk dip,
a sprinkle of heat,
a dusting of flour,
and a hot oil bath--
into multi rings of crunch
with a spirited bite,
bringing tears of joy.
--Chuck Schrader ©

After the meal, we headed to the American Legion Hall in Rayne for the Last Friday of the Month Jam. When we walked into the large Hall, about 20 pair of eyes followed us. Kate greeted the couple seated at the first long table with: "Hello, folks. We hear this is the place to hear some really good music." That couple invited us to join them, and after half an hour, we were being introduced as their friends from Philadelphia.

Unlike all other jams we have attended in the past four months, performers here had electric instruments, so it took awhile for the musicians to get set up. The evening began with a grandfather (singer) and grandson (accordion) leading a group (drummer, steel guitar, guitar, and bass guitar).

About an hour into the jam, other musicians arrived—and the jam took off. We later learned that the accordionist was Junior Melancon (center, with the white light on his cap), and people around us thought that the guitarist (center, with the black hat) and the bass player (far left) were also with Junior's group, The Come Down Playboys, which is well-known in the region.

To say Junior is an animated accordionist is an understatement. He is in constant motion, virtually assaulting the instrument. There are times when he seems to vibrate in time with his playing. This photograph was taken between songs, so it's relatively clear.

A day with memorable onion rings--and jam.

No comments: