Thursday, March 15, 2007

Pinching Tail and Sucking Head

Crawfish season is in full tilt boogie now. The 2006 season was disappointing but this year shows great promise of a big, flavorful harvest. The crawfish season typically begins in January or February, depending on weather conditions, peaks in mid-March to mid-May, and finishes in June or July.

Some southern locales such as Lafayette, Louisiana, report the biggest consumption of crawfish is for Good Friday, the last meatless Friday before Easter Sunday for the Catholic population.

Crawfish are freshwater crustaceans who do not bite in cold weather. Hurricane Katrina pushed so much saltwater inland that the 2006 crawfish harvest suffered. The crawfish were smaller, had less tail meat and were not so tasty.

The favorite way of eating crawfish is to boil them in spicy seasoned water along with new potatoes and corn on the cob, then empty the pot on a newspaper covered picnic table, outdoors with lots of cold soda or beer. The seasonings from the boiling water concentrate in the head of the crawfish, which contains the body fat, and it is considered an important element in crawfish consumption.

Eating crawfish is a five step process. First the head is pulled off by twisting the tail one way then the other to break it off. Next you peel the crawfish by crushing and peeling two or three segments of the shell from the tail to get to the meat. Then, with your teeth, you grab the meat and pull it out. The next step is to pick up the head and suck the fat out. Finally, if the claws are big enough, pull the largest segment and eat the meat using your teeth to pull it out.

The most famous of the crawfish festivals in south Louisiana is the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival. Breaux Bridge is a small town outside of Lafayette. This year the festival is May 4-6. The website is

Laissez les bon temps rouler!