Native Americans were catching and eating crawfish for years before the Acadians arrived, although some legends tell of the northeastern lobster following the Acadians to Louisiana and shrinking in size over the long journey. The Acadians took quite well to the local crawfish, and they became a major part of the Cajun culture.
Crawfish-or mudbugs, as they are called since the popular species in Louisiana burrow into the wet ground of the freshwater bayous-can be boiled whole with spices and vegetables. The tender meat can be featured in a variety of Cajun cuisine from étouffée to meat pies. Every spring when crawfish are in season Louisiana families, like the Walkers, spend their afternoons gathered around picnic tables picking crawfish. They spread old newspaper across long tables where they dump a giant pot of steaming crawfish along with boiled potatoes, garlic cloves, corn on the cob, whole mushrooms, and onions.
Some of the Walkers’ fondest memories involve farming crawfish themselves. One of TW’s clients has a crawfish pond. When TW’s brother, Bob was coming to Ville Platte for Easter with his family, TW asked his client if the kids could come by and pick up some crawfish with the hand nets. “Mais, cher, don’t worry about that,” TW’s client said, using the Cajun term of endearment. “I’ll tell my guy not to make his run on Saturday morning, and y’all can just go pick up all the traps.”
TW couldn’t believe this generous offer. He loaded up the whole family, and they headed to the ponds. “Jack and Joe were just waist-high then,” recalls TW. “We pulled them behind us in a boat and waded through the water without hip boots on, even Mama Jen. I think we came up with over 250 pounds of crawfish.” A good rule of thumb is three pounds of crawfish per person, which means the Walkers hit the mother load. “We got to be crawfish farmers for the day,” Jack remembers fondly.
TW’s client invited them back year after year. As Jack and Joe got older, they wore snake-proof boots and started pulling the boats through the muddy water for the younger kids to ride. “It’s always a good weekend,” says TW. “It brought all the family together.” The Walkers took all those crawfish back to the Bayou Chicot house and cooked them in the backyard under twinkle lights TW strung from the trees. “We ate for two hours, Cajun French music blaring in the background,” says Bob. “Living in Mississippi, I wanted my kids to experience the way I grew up.”
Today when the Walkers eat crawfish, they all remember those Easter weekends. They pop off the heads and suck the juices, peel off the shell and pop the meat in their mouths.
The Slap Ya Mama seasoning tingles their lips just perfectly, and they’re taken right back to those Easter weekends way back when.