I guess we can say it’s crawfish season again. Although when they are selling for $5 a pound then it seems like a harsh season. But, it still is tempting to tuck into one of our regional treats. I didn’t actually try any of these crawfish. My friend Collin is the photo editor for DIG Magazine (for whom I have written a few article, one about Groupon is here) and he needed to get a shot of some crawfish. He decided to use my front porch for the photograph. So, he brought over 3 pounds and we both took pictures and by the time he was done photographing them, I had lost interest in a snack.
Anyway, we identify crawfish as being a uniquely Louisiana thing. The truth is that people eat them all over the world. In Sweden they eat them with a sweet, vinegar sauce. There are huge crawfish farms in Spain to satisfy the Swedish demand for mudbugs. The native crustaceans of the Scandinavian countries were all but wiped out by a disease a few decades ago but our Red Swamp Crawfish are immune to it. In Shanghai, they boil them with mounds of Szechuan pepper corns. It may sound like blasphemy to say this, but the Chinese actually like them a little spicier than we do, although the Szechuan pepper corn has a numbing heat rather than a biting one so eating a few pounds of the critters in the back alleys of the French Concession of old Shanghai feels a bit like a trip to the dentist.
The blooming flowers, the intermittent allergy attacks, the arrival of boiled crawfish— it all signals that Summer is on its way. I don’t much care for the heat but if there is one way to fight the blast-furnace torpor of Louisiana in Summer then it is cold beer and crawfish on the front porch. And anything that brings those things together can’t be all bad.
If you are interested in learning A LOT more about those delicious mud bugs then you might enjoy Jerry Walls’ Crawfishes of Louisiana. Yes, it goes into great detail about the evolutionary history of their legs, feelers and shells. Yes, you will learn scads about their mating and life cycle, but for an academically oriented book it is an easy read. And, it has pictures!