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 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 or 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 the 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 Walker’s fondest memories involve farming crawfish themselves. One of TW’s clients had 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 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 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 with our 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 motherlode. “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 was 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 the twinkle lights TW stung 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 head 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.
- 30-40 lbs Crawfish
- 6 cups kosher salt divided
- 4 (1-pound) bags Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seafood Boil, divided
- 10 lemons, halved
- 10 lbs red potatoes, quartered
- 8 lbs corn, shucked and halved
- 16 heads garlic, halved crosswise
- 8 lbs andouille sausage, cut into thirds
- Slap Ya Mama Original Blend Cajun Seasoning (to taste )
- In a large bucket or cooler, place live crawfish, 3 cups salt, and water to cover. Let stand for 30 minutes, discarding any crawfish that float to the top (which indicates crawfish are dead). Rinse crawfish thoroughly using cold water.
- In a large outdoor 60-gallon pot with a crawfish basket, place 2 bags Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seafood Boil, lemons(squeezing juices), and remaining 3 cups salt. Fill halfway with water, and bring to a boil over high heat on a heavy-duty outdoor burner. Add potatoes, corn, and garlic; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.