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Cajun Crawfishing

Louisiana Crawfish
Louisiana Crawfish
Kat Brown Photography

Time Honored Tradition:

 As far back as the Native Americans and early European settlers, crawfish have been a part of the Louisiana culture. It is now a time-honored tradition to feast during the crawfish season at crawfish boils and patio parties as a favorite get together. Often accompanied by ziedego music, old folklore and ice cold beer; you may even learn a French cajun word or two as the old timers share stories from days gone by. For the Louisiana cajun, the crawfish is the centerpiece of cuisine, ethnic pride. A moderate lifestyle to make a living as a commercial farmer, supplementing the supply and demand primarily in the south and nations abroad.

Cultivating Crawfish:

Rice fields can be planted in two ways, either dry planting using a seeder or by dropping seeds from aerial planes into the flooded ponds. After a couple of days, ponds are drained allowing the seeds to germinate and grow up to 4 or 5 inches tall. The pond is then re-flooded and growth continues until it is harvested in late July. Before the rice crop is headed and cashed the water is drained to enable the farmer to prepare for a crawfish crop in late August. These young crawfish are also called 'seeds'. The small seedlings are purchased in 30 to 40 pound sacks and released to go into the ground to lay and hatch their eggs. The adult crawfish carries her babies underneath her tail and then sheds them once they have matured. The pond is then re-irrigated for another rice crop and to harvest the crawfish. When flooded in late October the crawfish will come out and begin to grow for fishing to begin in early January. The crawfish season is abundant for the summer months and fizzles out in July. More information on crawfishing techniques.

Family Fun:

Why aren't crawfish boils more widespread? It seems that it is a culture thing and not usually done in other parts of the country. A time to let down your etiquette and just get messy with grabbing your food and letting the reddish juices run down your hands and arms. With a few twists and cracking of the shells, most people eat just the tail meat. Others believe that sucking the head gives you delicious juices full of seasoning and fat, also giving you a true cajun status. But, once you've been to a boil, you are likely to become hooked. With laughter, music and just hanging out, this is one laid back tradition that is easily contagious.

Crawfish can be purchased at roadside stands, sort of like vegetable stands and purchased already boiled or live. Don't cheat now, you must buy them live, or you will miss all the fun of preparing your own festive crawfish boil with your family and friends. Learn how with a book of instructions and delicious recipes for all to enjoy.