Check out our article in the Louisiana Life Magazine, and be sure to try out the Mock Turtle Soup recipe.
Below is a copy of the article text for those interested:
The Bourgeois family butchers Beau, 30, Lester, 93, and Donald, 55, carry on the traditions started by Valerie Jean-Batiste Bourgeois in 1891. (top to bottom) Oxtail, boudin and smoked beef jerky are just some of the many meat products they offer.
To sit in the tiny, cramped office at Bourgeois Meat Market is to experience the physical manifestation of the cliché of south Louisiana masculinity. A deer head is mounted high on the wall, below it a picture of Beau Bourgeois, 30, with the felled deer. Next to it is a picture of Lester “Paw-Paw” Bourgeois, 93, holding up a prized catch on a fishing boat. There’s a reverently framed picture of the Madonna and child, numerous bottles of assorted cooking spices, a couple of bottles of vodka and you can hear Lynyrd Skynyrd singing “Simple Man” from the radio in the kitchen where employees work with efficiency and an air of contentment.
The Bourgeois family has been making “Miracles in Meat” since 1891 when Valerie Jean-Batiste Bourgeois began slaughtering single pigs or cows and peddling the fresh cuts by horse and carriage to those living along the edges of bayous Terrebonne and Lafourche. With the advent of refrigeration, he opened a storefront in the 1920s and began making the smoked sausage, hogshead cheese and boudin that earned him a loyal patronage.
When his son, Lester, returned from service in WWII he took over the business, moving the market and slaughterhouse across the street. Of Lester’s seven children, it was his son Donald, now 55, who took over the business. Now Donald’s son, Beau, 30, is heading day-to-day operations, freeing up his dad and Paw Paw to go fishing whenever they like.
Each generation has its own legacy within the heritage business. Donald, known for his creativity in the kitchen, is the genius behind the market’s famous smoked beef jerky, of which they sell thousands of pounds each week, shipping it all over the world. Something magical happened when he opened up a casing of boudin, folded the contents into a neat package within a flour tortilla, then toasted it. The resulting Boudin Burrito is now the area’s most popular grab-and-go lunch, served hot from a glass case on the counter near the cash register. His turkey cheese, a riff on the hog variety but made with dark turkey meat, is sought after by squeamish eaters and his mustard-based TTS (Totally Top Secret) sauce could probably make an old sweat sock palatable.
As the business moves into Beau’s computer-savvy hands his legacy will be expansion. A second market will open in nearby Gray in 2019 or 2020. “Just to take some of the pressure off of this place,” he says. “Sometimes it’s hard to keep up.”
As recently as the 1970s there were numerous butcher shops dotting the immediate area, now only Bourgeois’ remains. Beau attributes the business’ longevity and its status as a national landmark to his family’s devotion to turning out top-quality products and adhering to strict customer service policies. The market prepares only enough products to serve a select number of customers each day. If they run out they make more, ensuring meats are always fresh.
“It’s our products and it’s our family,” Beau says. “We’re good people, we care and we’re friendly. And that just keeps them coming back.”
Bourgeois Meat Market, 543 W Main St., Schriever, 985-447-7128, bourgeoismeatmarket.com