Since I drove over the Atchafalaya Basin last week and went to the Louisiana Crawfish Festival the same weekend, I thought I’d tell you about crawfish today and my first-time crawfish experience.
Crawfish are crustaceans that are also known as crayfish, crawdads, mudbugs or yabbies and live in fresh water. They resemble lobsters, but are considerably smaller. There are approximately 60-100 million pounds of crawfish harvested annually in Louisiana in the Alchafalaya Basin.
Often prepared for soups, bisques and étouffées only the tail of the crawfish is served. You can also enjoy them boiled. There are even social events called ‘crawfish boils’ where people gather together to enjoy good food, fellowship and possibly music. At crawfish boils, the entire body of the crawfish is served. Though the entire body of the crawfish is served, not all of it is eaten.
I learned the proper way to eat boiled crawfish last weekend. According to the grandfather-like-man who stood across from me at our crawfish table, it is proper to pinch and pull off the tail, pluck off the shell, remove the mud vein and eat the flesh. It is also entirely customary to suck the head that you just removed from the tail! I was extremely hesitant about this until the man and his grandson across from me insisted that I do this…there was no way out. Needless to say, I survived and it was pretty tasty! (Each time, however, was just as creepy as the first). Since the crawfish are boiled in a seasoning mixture, when sucking the head of the crawfish, you are able to taste the spicy seasoning.
Though this is something anyone should experience while they are in Louisiana, it may not be something I regularly recommend. Crawfish (and other seafood) boils and the seasonings they contain may be very, very high in sodium. This is an event that should definitely be done in moderation and if you have control over the seasoning used, find a sodium-free or low sodium mix. Please be especially mindful if you have blood pressure, heart, or fluid issues.