The popular belief that people in Hong Kong eat only Chop Suey and Chow Mein is not completely true. Somewhere in that populous city, someone eats andouille made by Henry "Diddy" Jacob.
Hong Kong is only one of the many cities worldwide with the distinction of being a patron of N. Jacob’s General Merchandise Store in LaPlace. It all began 47 years and about 600 tons, 1,200,000 pounds of andouille ago when the late Nelson Jacob acquired Alexander’s Grocery and Saloon. It was then he began making and selling andouille along with other "staple" goods.
"To my knowledge, we were the first in this area to make andouille commercially," Diddy says proudly. "My father (Nelson Jacob) taught me how to make the sausage longer ago than I can even remember. Since 1925, andouille has been made on the premises (which in 1947 was moved into the old Maurin’s Home Staple Store) one to three times a week. Add that to the number of pounds per mixture - 500 to 800 - and you can see that 600 tons is a conservative estimate.
Diddy admits that there is little difference in the andouille made commercially. He uses fresh, lean Boston Butt pork, red pepper, black pepper, salt, and garlic and, no, he’s not saying how much. "I have to protect my interests, just as you could have this story copyrighted," Diddy said. "But I’ve never done that and I don’t intend to do it now," we assured him. "Well then, I’ll never have one of my andouilles copyrighted," he replied, "You understand?"
"Yep." Everyone knows that peculiarities and the little differences make a good thing great. "I smoke my andouille with aged pecan wood," Diddy says, "and add sugar cane, molasses, or corn cobs to the fire to give it a sweeter and more mellow taste and color."
"Another difference is starting the fire with wood chips - starter fluids give the sausage a bad taste." "I like to smoke the sausage very slowly - 8 to 14 hours, depending on the size of the batch. Anything done that naturally and slowly has to be good.
Two smokehouses, each with a 650-pound capacity, are in the back of the store, and we can guarantee that they have seen more sausage than …Rowley Hymel. Diddy is especially proud that Roussel’s Restaurant is a client of his, purchasing about 60 one and one-half to three-pound links every week and sometimes more.
We suggested that he (Diddy) mail some of his andouille to Red China for diplomatic reasons. Anything that good has to have universal appeal. "Heck no," he said, "once they try it how can I make enough to feed 750,000,000 people. We’d probably have to go to war."
"Yep, that’s true," we said, "but just think - one day we could go into a Chinese restaurant and order sweet and sour andouille," and that seemed a sweet note on which to end our talk.
– ELLIS LUCIA.