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Cajun to Canada: TV show films in Vidalia

LAUREN WOOD/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Roxie Roberts, who owns Cajun Speciality Meats and Seafood with Greg Poole, holds alligator sausage, one of the things she showed crews of the show “Food On the Run” when they stopped by the store to film Tuesday afternoon. The show is featuring Cajun food along the Mississippi River, and Roberts talked about crawfish tails, alligator meats, center cut pork chops and in-house seasoning.

VIDALIA — It wasn’t the questions that two French-Canadian television chefs were asking Roxie Roberts that caused her to freeze up on camera Tuesday — she’s accustomed to answering every question in the book about Cajun cuisine.

It was the thick accents of the visitors from Quebec that caused the owner of Cajun Specialty Meats and Seafood in Vidalia to take a little longer to answer.

“Their English was actually pretty good, but it was just hard to understand them sometimes,” Roberts said laughing. “I’ve had people in here from Germany and France, but I’d never heard anything like that before, so I had to stop and think about what they were asking me sometimes.

“They told me I acted like I was being interrogated by a police officer.”

Roberts and her store, which specializes in selling meats and seafood prepared in-house with a variety of Cajun seasoning, were featured on the French-Canadian television show “Bouffe en cavale” or “Food on the Run.”

The show’s sixth season is titled “Along the Mississippi River” and is taking chefs Vincent Chatigny and Norman Helms from Memphis to New Orleans to explore the history of Cajun food in those areas.

The chefs stopped off in Vidalia, Roberts said, on their way to Alexandria, La., and wasted no time delving into one of the most commonly asked questions she hears from out-of-state or country visitors.

“Well the first thing they asked was, ‘What is Cajun?’” Roberts said. “Different people have different answers to that, but for me it’s all about the spices.

“Some people think it’s all about hot, hot, hot, but it’s more about using all the spices to get that perfect flavor.”

During the visit, which Roberts said lasted about 30 minutes, the chefs wandered through the store asking about the different products, while film crews documented the entire visit.

But it didn’t take long for the chefs to become entranced with one item in particular, Roberts said.

“They kept asking about the stuffed meats,” Roberts said. “I explained that stuffing the meats is big in Cajun cooking and told them what we stuff our meat with, but then they asked if they could stuff it on their own.

“I said, ‘Well I guess you could stuff them if you wanted to,’” Roberts said. “Most people would rather us stuff it for them or buy the meat we’ve already stuffed, but they wanted to do it themselves.”

Not one to argue with a customer — especially while on camera — Roberts granted the chefs’ request and prepared them a thick center cut pork chop and crawfish tails, shrimp and a jar of the store’s in-house seasoning for the stuffing.

One of the main aspects of the show is to feature the duo buying local products to cook in their mobile kitchen along their travels.

After the chefs had asked all their questions and left the store to continue their journey, Roberts said she analyzed her first television appearance and decided it went just fine.

“That was my first time on TV, but I’m not really camera shy or anything like that,” Roberts said. “They were really nice, and it’s always fun to welcome visitors to the store.”

And even though the show will only be aired on the French Canadian network, Évasion, Roberts said she hopes to see more visitors from that region in the store soon.

“That’s the idea anyway, but I don’t know how many of them will make the trip,” Roberts said laughing. “They promised to send me a DVD, so I’ll be excited to see how I did when that comes in.”