April 19th, 2010
02:29 PM ET

'Treme' recap: Crystal Hot Sauce gets its due

Chicken made an appearance in the second episode of "Treme," but it was definitely not on the menu.

New Orleans musician Coco Robicheaux conducted a chicken sacrifice to kick off this episode of David Simon's HBO drama.

"Are we entering some sacrificial realm here?" Steve Zahn's character Davis McAlery asks Robicheaux, who's confidently stroking the neck of the rooster with a knife. "Why don't you play the next cut on that CD as I summon the spirits?" Robicheaux tells the deejay. A blood stain on the wall after the opening credits alludes to what's become of the bird.

While there were no magic pies in the second episode of "Treme," New Orleans products made cameos - namely Crystal Hot Sauce, which graced the kitchen counter of trombone player Antoine Batiste as well as the bar of Gigi’s Place, the haunt owned by Batiste’s ex-wife.

Baumer Foods, which makes Crystal Hot Sauce, was flooded out of its New Orleans factory by Hurricane Katrina. It had to move production of "No. 1 hot sauce of Louisiana" out of state for 18 months. It resumed production in Louisiana in February 2007, after reopening the plant upriver to a town called Reserve.

Hot sauce helps chef Janette DeSautel stomach the scrambled eggs she burns while cooking on a hot plate in the second floor of her ruined house. As "This American Life" contributor Cheryl Wagner documents in her memoir about post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans, "Plenty Enough Suck to Go Around," second-floor camp stoves were a common thing in those months after Katrina, used to heat up ramen noodles and whatever else locals could smuggle in to their ruined city.

Here's a guide to the local products in episode two of "Treme":

Bunny Bread This white bread - locally made in New Orleans - has been a city favorite since 1966. Its New Orleans plant was closed from late August to early December 2005 because of Hurricane Katrina.

Crystal Hot Sauce Flooding forced Baumer Foods to move production of this New Orleans hot sauce out of state following the hurricane. A new factory opened 18 months later in neighboring St. John the Baptist Parish. Crystal is milder than that other Louisiana hot sauce – Tabasco – and the Baumer Foods sign is a familiar site along the I-10 corridor in New Orleans.
Community Coffee Here is a coffee so beloved that one Katrina evacuee in Houston bought out a grocery store’s supply and offered free cups of the coffee to other evacuees in the Astrodome in the weeks following the storm. The Baton Rouge-based company donated coffee to Katrina’s first responders.

Finn McCool's Irish Pub Not a product per se, this Irish pub in Mid-City New Orleans gets a shout-out via T-shirt in the second episode. The pub was inspiration for Stephen Rea’s Katrina memoir "Finn McCool’s Football Club: The Birth, Death and Resurrection of a Pub Soccer Team in the City of the Dead."

Steen's Cane Syrup Steen's Cane Syrup is Louisiana's hardcore answer to maple syrup. This Abbeville, Louisiana, company has been making 100 Percent Pure Cane Syrup since 1910. When Janette DeSautel’s sous chef presents her father with a sweet potato pecan tart sweetened with Steen's, you know DeSautel means business. Use it to make pain perdu, or if you’re really brave, drizzle it on your pancakes.

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Filed under: television • Treme

soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. jalapeno hot sauce

    You actually make it appear so easy together with your presentation but I to find this topic to be really one thing that I think I would never understand. It seems too complex and extremely extensive for me. I'm taking a look forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!

    August 3, 2012 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Gloria

    I love Crystals. Can't live without it. Wish it was easier to find up north.

    April 20, 2010 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Paul Harris

    I second the Clover Grill. Have to admit the M.R.E.'s in the Superdome though were better than I expected. No packets of hot sauce included unfortunately.

    Paul Harris
    Author, "Diary From the Dome, Reflections on Fear and Privilege During Katrina"

    April 20, 2010 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
  4. HelenK

    I discovered Community Coffee when visiting friends in Ponchatula several years ago. Best coffee I've ever had. Thank God you can order from their website!

    April 20, 2010 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  5. Barry Smith

    Steens and Crystal and Bunny Bread have been Louisiana staples for what seems generations! It is hard to find a kitchen in South Louisiana without those staples. And CC Coffee(N.O. Blend – my preference) is mandatory. I can't imagine not being able to find and use these products!

    April 20, 2010 at 7:43 am | Report abuse |
  6. Mccormick

    You forgot about The Clover Grill where the DJ is going to breakfast. Best little cafe at 2 am I have ever found.

    April 19, 2010 at 11:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Lee

    People can have their Starbucks but I'll take Community Coffee over it anyday.

    April 19, 2010 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dana Kennedy

    Love that Crystal hot sauce! Soak your boneless chicken strips in it for a few hours, coat with bread crumbs and bake for the best tasting chicken fingers ever! So good it'll make your your tongue slap your brains out, no?

    April 19, 2010 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Sher

    Now add some Blue Runner Red Beans and Blue Plate Mayo. We only eat Bunny Bread. I was in the military and had to get this shipped to me all the time. And some Tony's Chachere's. I discovered through vacations that most state's don't have it in the store. Zatarain's Root Beer Extract is another good one.

    April 19, 2010 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
  10. A Graves

    Community coffee, Crystal hot sauce, and Steens syrup....thats all you find in my kitchen!!!! Buuny bread is hard to find here. But I do love it!

    Monroe Louisiana

    April 19, 2010 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  11. woahweddings

    Hurray Steen's! I love it on my pancakes, smeared with peanut butter first! Or with white bread and butter as a late-night sweet snack! We order a case every November so we have enough to make gingerbread with...

    April 19, 2010 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Big Easy

    Where did Blue Plate relocate to? The best Mayonnaise ever made.

    April 19, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Newave Dave

    love me some Crystal Hot Sauce, Bunny Bread, Community Coffee, and Steens Pure Cane syrup. Everytime I make a trip back hom, I always stock up and ship that good stuff back to my home in Colorado.

    April 19, 2010 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  14. RRmike

    Community Coffee every morning @ my home, I prefer Red Devil to Chrystal or Tabasco.

    April 19, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Barbara Gautreaux

    Crystal Hot Sauce raises the heat on your food without changing the taste.

    April 19, 2010 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  16. alex

    Loves me some Crystal hot sauce, been using it for years.

    April 19, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |

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