They no longer sandbag the catfish po boys out in Des Allemands at the big Louisiana Catfish Festival.
If you’re not a restaurant industry veteran allow us to explain. Sandbagging is the pre-cooking of food in advance of a big rush of customers. Lots of restaurants do it with varying results. We made the mistake of eating at Peche here in New Orleans once and could not believe how awful the food was. Months later we made the acquaintance of a line cook there and he explained that nothing is cooked per order at the restaurant. Everything is pre-cooked and warmed over when the patron orders it.
When we arrived at St Gertrude the Great Catholic Church on Sunday morning we ambled over to the catfish po boy station and were heartened to see the workers making the sandwiches from scratch.The festival may very well have a new culinary director as the food this year was better than it’s ever been. And we finally met the man in charge of the legendary white beans. A gentleman named Louis introduced himself to us and explained how much time and energy goes into his project. “These ain’t no Bluerunners” he proudly exclaimed. The good cook prepares over 240lbs of dried beans to go into the big soup pots. Louis’ beans stand among the greatest Louisiana festival foods.
The catfish at this years festival was note-perfect. Heavily seasoned, fried in clean oil and served reasonably hot. But the reason we keep coming back year after year is to eat Miss Liz’s divine ooey gooey. This is a sweet treat we grew up on, and we are perennially on the hunt for a good one. Miss Liz always delivers the goods with her pluperfect baking skills. She’s the grandma that everybody dreams of having and we always secretly wish she would adopt us as her grandchildren so we could gain better access to her cooking.
We go to dozens of food festival across Louisiana every year and Des Allemands Catfish is one of the finest. The best food parties are always fine tuning the experience, addressing the flaws and cracking the whip on the cooks to make sure they’re putting out Louisiana-quality food. Which is to say the best food in the United States.