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My Dinner is Watching Me

"We don't count 'em."

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Eleven days until the release of Worry Beads: The Big Uneasy 4! I’ll be sharing lots of (I hope) interesting things and memories about the Big Easy. 

A few days after our arrival in New Orleans, we went to a company dinner. For a gal from Wyoming, it felt more like an initiation than a dinner. Lol It was a “buffet,” so we grabbed plates and got in line. First up, they added corn and potatoes, then a SCOOP of crawfish, another of shrimp, and then a crab on top. 

All the food still had eyes, so it felt like they were watching me and waiting to see what I’d do. We proceeded to the tables, covered in paper (for a reason, we found out) and sat down across from a family already diving into their food. 

I lifted my gaze from all the eyes, just in time to see a toddler sucking on a crawfish head. O.O

We lived in New Orleans for eighteen years and I came to love crawfish, but I never really warmed up to shucking them myself or sucking the head. Lol But I have seen real pros go after them and wow. Real skill. 

Crawfish look a bit like lobsters, but the meat is tenderer though chewier than shrimp. As far as the taste, it’s mostly from the butter and Cajun spices that they’re boiled in. You can find them in the mud of freshwater bayous which is why they’re often called mudbugs. Also, some people call them crawdads. In 1983, the crawfish was designated the Official Crustacean of Louisiana. The Bayou State was the first to choose an Official Crustacean. Five other states followed Louisiana’s lead and picked an official crustacean: 

  • Maryland—the Blue Crab
  • Oregon—the Dungeness Crab
  • Alabama—the Brown Shrimp
  • Maine —the Lobster, and 
  • Texas—the Texas Gulf Shrimp  

But, let’s get back to crawfish. Did you know they have eight legs: four of their legs are made for walking, the other four are used for swimming. What’s also weird is that crawfish walk forward but they swim backward. If they lose one of their legs it’s okay, because they can just grow a new leg. They molt, which means they shed their shells, up to 15 times. Additionally, they nearly double in size with each molt.

Before the Acadians (Cajuns) settled in the swamps of Louisiana, the Native Americans who lived in the swampland caught bushels of crawfish to eat. They’d bait reeds with venison, then they’d stick them in the water. When they pulled out the reeds, crawfish were attached to the bait. 

Louisiana crawfish weren’t caught commercially until 1880 when a harvest of 23,400 pounds was brought in at a value of $2,140. By 1908, Louisiana’s crawfish production was at 88,000 pounds, and valued at $3,600. Nowadays, Louisiana produces about 90 percent of the crawfish eaten in the US. 

For crawfish caught in the wild, Louisiana’s crawfish season typically runs from mid-January through early-July. The peak months are March, April, and May. Farm-raised crawfish are available most of the year. The annual New Orleans Crawfish festival for 2019 will be held in April and, of course, it includes an eating contest and cookoff. 

The tiny morsel of supple meat in the crawfishes’ tails is delicious. Most people pinch off the tail, squeeze out the meat, and eat it, leaving the head behind. But for some people the heads are yummy as well. You put them to your lips and suck slowly. Crawfish is a healthy food, they’re low in fat, saturated fat, trans fat, and calories, plus they’re 80% protein and have no carbs. One pound of Crawfish only has 327 calories, so you can eat till you pop at the next crawfish boil. 

I’ll be honest. I never cared that crawfish were healthy. I just liked their yummy factor. Lol

Perilously yours,

Pauline

P.S. Funny story. A friend of ours from New Orleans went to school out west. A leader there found out he was from NO and liked crawfish, so invited him over to have some at his house. Intrigued by this, our friend asked the leader how they cooked their crawfish. Leader responded that they collected a dozen or so from a local ditch and tossed them on the grill. Then leader asked our friend how he cooked them.

Our friend responded, “Well, first off, we don’t count ‘em.” 

crawfish

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