Today we drove through Atchafalaya Basin along Rt. 10 to Houston. This is a prime crawfish farming area. I learned that they say “crawfish”, not “crawdad”or “crayfish” below the 38th parallel. Wild crawfish have provided sustenance for Native Americans in the region for centuries. European settlers did not start harvesting crawfish from bayous and swamps until the 1880’s.
Today, crawfish farming is a major industry in Louisiana, producing 100 million pounds of crawfish annually. In addition to farming wild crawfish, it is farmed in ponds that are flooded and drained. Ninety percent of U.S crawfish production is in Louisiana.
Some farmers grow crawfish and rice in the same fields.
There is an art to eating crawfish, a hands on experience. A crawfish boil seems to me to be rather like a traditional New England clam steam, only messier. We did not have an opportunity to participate in a crawfish boil, but it was described to me. A big platter of crawfish, corn on the cob and boiled potatoes is brought out along with an empty pan for the refuse. Then the eating commences with everyone digging in with gusto. The proper way to eat a crawfish is to pinch the butt, break off the head and suck. I saw a t-shirt that said “it won’t suck itself”, which I assume was referring to a crawfish.
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