Categories:Cajun/Creole Crawfish Fish and Seafood History Mardi Gras
Crawfish Boil – Louisiana Crawfish Boil
Crawfish boils are wonderful messy affairs, best suited for the outdoors. Boiling crawfish is a festive event and eating is also thirsty work, so we made sure to have lots of beer on hand.
Photo courtesy to Travis Blue
Learn about the History of Crawfish Boils, Jazz Brunches, and Reveillon Dinners – by Mark W. Huntsman
History of Crawfish in Louisiana:
What looks, tastes, and smells like seafood, but doesn’t come from the sea? It’s crawfish, a freshwater shellfish that is considered a Louisiana delicacy.
Nothing else symbolizes the Cajun (a person of French Canadian descent born or living along the bayous, marshes, and prairies of southern Louisiana) culture of Louisiana like crawfish. Crawfish have become synonymous with the hardy French pioneers who settled in the area after being forced by British troops to leave their homes in Nova Scotia.
Crawfish (or crayfish) resemble tiny lobsters. They are also known in the south as mudbugs because they live in the mud of freshwater bayous. They are more tender than lobsters and have a unique flavor. Today crawfish are raised commercially and are an important Louisiana industry.
Most of the crawfish consumed in the United States are from Louisiana, although people from other states consider them a delicacy, too. Locals still hold the traditional crawfish boils, where friends and family gather to feast on pounds of crawfish. In the spring, families will go out fishing on the bayous or crawfish farms in an age-old tradition that thrives to this day.
The local Indians are credited with harvesting and consuming crawfish before the Cajuns arrived. They would bait reeds with venison, stick them in the water, then pick up the reeds with the crawfish attached to the bait. By using this method, the Indians would catch bushels of crawfish for their consumption. By the 1930s, nets were substituted, and by the 1950s, the crawfish trap was used.
On July 14, 1983, Louisiana’s governor approved a law designating the crawfish as the state crustacean. Louisiana thus became the first state to adopt an official crustacean. That is how serious Louisiana is about their crawfish!
Crawfish are descendants of the Maine lobster. After the Acadians (now called Cajuns) were exiled in the 1700s from Nova Scotia, the lobsters yearned for the Cajuns so much that they set off cross the country to find them.
This journey, over land and sea, was so long and treacherous that the lobsters began to shrink in size. By the time they found the Cajuns in Louisiana, they had shrunk so much that they hardly looked like lobsters anymore. A great festival was held at their arrival, and this smaller lobster was renamed crawfish.
Kiss the blue crawfish and spare his life, and you will be blessed with good luck.- Cajun saying
Louisiana Crawfish Boil Recipe
Eating “Sucking Crawfish” Boiled Crawfish:
The following fellow crawfish eaters graciously allowed me to take their photos while “sucking crawfish.” Thank you for being such good sports!
Comments from readers:
Had a delicious blast this weekend using your Cajun Crawfish Boil recipe, but with live California Crawfish (which are harvested from Sacramento Delta)…. just as good! The key thing I would have missed without reading your web page was “purging” the crawfish. We improvised with a 10 to15 gallon clean plastic garbage bin and a garden hose.
We boiled it in salted water with red potatoes, corn-on the-cob, Zatarain’s Crab/Shrimp Boil, and cayenne pepper. Then, when we emptied onto picnic table, sprinkled with Old Bay seasoning, and more cayenne and other pepper-based spices for a mouth-tingling experience. Nice to follow with a few cold ones! October is end of season for us, so had it just in time. See the photos I wanted to share with you. Cheers – Collin (10/15/07)