How the Circuit Got Its Name

jaci remondet staff

A distinct smell travels through the air as water starts to boil over the hot stove fire. The oil hisses as the holy trinity — onion, green bell pepper and celery — sauté together. Chitterlings are on the menu for dinner tonight. 

Chitterlings, sometimes spelled chitlins or chittlins, can be prepared in a variety of ways, including stewed or deep-fried. Chitlins mostly come from hogs but can also come from other domestic animals such as cows, chickens or lambs, according to Oscar J. Jordan III in the Soul-Patrol Times. This dish is traditionally known as an African American soul food and dates back to slavery. 

The Chitlin’ Circuit name comes from an ode to the traditional dish in the Black community, says Gregory Rosary, an instructor in the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University.

“Down South, little hole-in-the-wall juke joints would always have chitlins or pig feet, you know, soul food. Somebody just called it the Chitlin’ Circuit because chitlins were huge back then, and it was just a nickname they came up with.”

Clubs compensated Black performers with food, such as chitlins, after a show. Chef Rosary says the venues would often serve the dish as well. The performers would then sell the food to earn money. 

Thibodaux native and former Lafourche Parish Councilman Jerry Jones says local stories passed on through generations gave the circuit its name. 

“What was told to me, the Chitlin’ Circuit, came from Black people eating chitlins,” Jones says.  “Since it was a place for just Black people, and they had loved the special dish.” 

Henry Louis Gates says in his 1997 The New Yorker piece, “[Chitlins] its a good example of how something that was originally eaten out of necessity became, as is the way acquired taste, a thing actively enjoyed.”  

Stewed Chitlins


    • Chitlins
    • Apple Cider Vinegar 
    • Baking Soda
    • Garlic
    • Onion
    • Celery
    • Red Bell Pepper
    • Green Bell Pepper
    • Chicken Broth
    • Onion Powder 
    • Garlic Powder
    • Salt
    • Pepper
    • Tony Chachere’s Seasoning
    • Red Pepper Flakes


    • Rice

    Clean the chitlins thoroughly and separate the membrane from the lining

    Tip: Use apple cider vinegar and baking soda to help with the smell and to clean further


    Boil chitlins in a large pot to get rid of impurities



    Cook down all the vegetables in a clean pot and add the chitlins back in


    Add in chicken broth and seasonings


    Cook for about three hours on a low simmer


    Optional: serve over rice