Al Marcus Makes Andouille

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The Daily Cleveland Herald, in 1869, quoted lawyer-poet John Godfrey Saxe as saying: "Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion, as we know how they are made." In other words, both are nasty processes best left to others.

Cue Al Marcus.

Marcus, under the company name The Grateful Bread and Other Good Things, has been hawking his wares -- from Worcestershire sauce and homemade vanilla extract to smoked cheeses -- at local farmers markets for the last year and a half.

The best sellers are always the bacon and sausage, particularly the andouille (one of five or six varieties he makes), which we videoed this week.

Marcus calls his top seller "anti-andouille" because he doesn't smoke it, as is traditionally done. Customers like it better this way, he said.

Vegans might not rock out to this sort of footage, but for carnivores this is the real deal. Pork shoulder and spices -- no preservatives or slices of meat from the nether-parts of pigs.

Marcus' son, Matt, a chef, started the business while home between jobs, then landed a gig at a Michelin two-star restaurant in California, leaving his pops to take over.

The batch of andouille -- plunged into packs of beef-based collagen casings rather than pork intestines -- holds eight onions, plenty of garlic and 40 pounds of meat, along with a dozen spices, from cayenne to cumin, each measured by weight.

Having sampled the sausage before it entered the casings (when Marcus always checks to make sure the spice levels are right), we can vouch for the stuff. The cayenne spread horizontally through the mouth, warm and even, as the Thai red chile paste shot front to back with each bite, then mellowed, heightening the feel of the remaining spices. It seemed the flavors were leaning eagerly forward to greet us.

That said, Marcus prefers the unique flavor the sausage assumes after a day's rest in the casing, as the various spices blend into one taste. We can groove on that.

You can find Grateful Bread goods on Saturdays, 8 a.m. to noon, at the Urban Harvest (the lot behind 3000 Richmond) or T'afia (3701 Travis St.) markets, and at the Rice market on Tuesdays, 3:30 to 6:30 p.m., at 2100 University Blvd.

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