I learned something today. I learned that Tony Chachere’s, the seasoning blend of salt, salt, salt, salt, salt, cayenne pepper, garlic and salt which is, along with Crystal hot sauce, de rigueur on every Louisiana table, was actually invented and marketed by a guy named Tony Chachere from St. Landry Parish.
This came as a surprise. I had always assumed Tony Chachere was an imaginary corporate focus group food mascot, like Ronald McDonald, Aunt Jemima or Rachael Ray. I thought that somewhere deep in the bowels of ConAgra marketing research drones had built the perfect ersatz Cajun, cartoonized and outfitted with a chef’s hat and glasses scientifically proven to drive consumers to heavily season their food with the company’s proprietary lab-tested spice blend, which they then could spin off into a whole product line of similarly branded food-type products.
But I was wrong. He’s real, man. He’s real. Look at him:
Once upon a time, somewhere deep within the dark beating heart of the swamp, specifically Opelousas, the real live Tony Chachere stood whisking a skillet of dark brown roux, plotting and waiting for the moment when he would convert it into a container of no-fuss just-add-water powder and in so doing conquer America (Note: Soul and Gone does not recommend making roux out of powder, unless the powder happens to be flour which you then add to heated oil, drippings or butter.)
But really, what next? Is someone going to tell me that Paul Prudhomme is real too?
(More on Cajun food coming up…)