I've found New Orleans' great sausage makers to be a passionate but practical lot.
As one illustration, take Benny and Anthony Terranova, authors of the incomparable Italian links at their 84-year-old family grocery Terranova's, in Faubourg St. John.
Each fall, the father and son team make and sell sausage beneath their big public prediction (pictured) for the Saints just before the start of the regular season. The numbers went up last week, after the Terranovas had a chance to reflect on the first three preseason games. This year's call is 10 wins, six losses.
The board was a creation of the late Anthony Terranova Sr., Benny's father, who installed it in the grocery store in 2002. The younger Anthony Terranova, his grandson, remembers that they hit the Saints record precisely the first two seasons.
Word got around they there might be some kind of Who Dat oracle behind the butcher counter. They were close a few other seasons, but now store regulars frequently ride them for what they see at the beginning of the football season as pessimism. If their prediction is anything less than an undefeated, championship season, which it always is, some customers call them unduly cynical.
But this is where the sausage makers' practicality comes in. Maybe it has something to do with handling deeply seasoned pork and long-running family recipes all day, but these guys are not going to allow their enthusiasm for the Saints to carry them away to pie-in-the-sky predictions.
Anyway, after all the pre-season bravado from super fans last year, the Terranova prediction of a 9-7 finish was just one game off from the Saints' disappointing 8-8 result.
"And they lost that last one by a field goal, so it was close," says Benny Terranova, remembering the Carolina Panthers' three-point kick that ended the game and put the 2008 Saints season out of its misery.
I hope to enjoy watching at least 10 Saints wins this season while eating Terranova sausage cooked into game day dishes.