For those of us accustomed to Eating crawfish, the saying “pinch the tail and suck the head” is simply a phrase that illustrates how to eat those little mudbugs. But to those not used to eating Louisiana crawfish, these instructions will likely come as a surprise, or may even offend!
Even among veteran crawfish eaters, there are those who simply won’t suck the crawfish’s head. I guess I can unnderstand their hesitance to stick the head of this bright red, half-bug, half alien-looking creature in your mouth, but one you do you’ ll understand exactly crawfish lovers do it. That explosion of juicy cajun goodness you get from sucking the head is hard to beat! So the next time someone asks you to “suck the head” don’t get offended, just do it. You can thank us later!
You can call them crawfish, crawdads, mudbugs or even crayfish (we’ll forgive you). Crawfish are a keystone of Cajun culture and cuisine. This delicious treat is loved by young and old, and is a perfect complement to an ice cold beer. Even more than being a favorite food, crawfish represent a beloved experience often lost by many in the rush of our modern world. Crawfish boils bring people together, in a spirit of “come one, come all,” to slow down, eat, and laugh.
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By Patrick D. Bonin
There’s no denying that south Louisiana is world famous for unique, amazing food.
Blessed with ample fresh ingredients and family recipes perfected and handed down through Cajun generations, the list of taste-tempting creations concocted here seemingly goes on and on: seafood gumbo, chicken and sausage gumbo, fried shrimp, boiled crawfish, fried crawfish, boudin, crawfish etouffee, blackened redfish, shrimp stew, crawfish bisque and fried turkey, just to name a few.
The list is long, but it does have a relatively new addition: the “turducken,” a tantalizing combination of a deboned chicken stuffed into a deboned duck, which is stuffed into a deboned turkey, with seafood or pork stuffing in between the layers!
The end result is a knockout flavorful combination that can be enjoyed year round, but is especially popular during the holidays.
The exact origin of the meaty meal remains up for discussion, but everyone concedes it was invented by Cajuns somewhere in south Louisiana. And its popularity skyrocketed in 1997 when football broadcaster John Madden sang its praises during a Saints game on Thanksgiving.
From that point on, it went viral and the rest is pretty much history. The broadcaster continually awarded a turducken to his “All-Madden team” each year, and its place was cemented in National Football League lore forever.
Several butcher shops throughout south Louisiana produce turduckens, many by the thousands during the holidays. The three main ingredients are always the same, but numerous stuffing variations have been created, including plain cornbread, seafood jambalaya, pork sausage, crawfish and more.
Numerous recipes are available online, but if you want to try an authentic Cajun turducken produced right here in south Louisiana, click here for all the details. But be warned: you might not ever want a “plain old turkey” during the holiday again!
If you have not been raised in Louisiana Cajun crawfish country, then there is good chance that you are not well versed in the language. Here, you will find fun loving people, family friendly festivals, fantastic food and plenty of opportunities to enjoy them all. However, with just a little time spent here you may begin to feel as though the residents of Cajun crawfish country speak a language all their own. So, if you feel as though you may have moved to a different country and need some help understanding, and perhaps pronouncing, the lingo as well as the humor, then you have come to the right place.
A Brief Cajun Crawfish Country Pronunciation Guide
- Ax – No, this is not something you cut a log with; this is when we “ask” you a question.
- Bayou- Pronounced “by-you” and refers to a body of water.
- Beignets – Typically a sweet treat found in Cajun country as well as all across our state. You will sound like a local when you pronounce it as “bin-yay.”
- Cher – This is a term of endearment, meaning “dear” and is pronounced with an ”sh” and an “a” sound that rhymes with “sad.”
- Crawfish – This is pronounced as it is written. We have Cajun crawfish not crawdads or crayfish.
- Etouffee – An amazing Louisiana dish made with seafood, poultry, rice and spicy gravy. Ask for it like a local by pronouncing it “ay-too-fay.”
- File – Pronounced “fee-lay” and is a actually a reference to sassafras which is a seasoning that is often used in gumbo.
- Jambalaya – This rice-based dish can be made with nearly combination of ingredients you would like. It is pronounced “jum-buh-lie-yuh.”
- New Orleans – If you want to talk like a local, then you have to pronounce it either “New Ar-lens” or “N’awlins”; it is only pronounced “Orleans” when used as part of the name of street or parish.
- Thibodeaux – A common name used often in storytelling; it is pronounced “tib-uh-dough.”
- Zydeco – The music of Cajun crawfish country. You are sure to hear it in Louisiana
Cajun Crawfish Country “Tells”
Now that you have gotten a handle on some of the lingo of Cajun crawfish country, here is some insight into the humor and culture.
- No matter where in the world someone from Cajun country visits, they are always disappointed in the food. After all, nobody knows good foods and flavor like a Cajun does!
- You have more crawfish mounds in your front or back yard than you do grass.
- “Way up North where it gets real cold” doesn’t necessarily mean Ohio or New York, it often means places like Shreveport, Little Rock or Memphis.
- You understand that a “dressed po boy” is not referring to a person but rather to a sandwich with all the extras.
- WhoDat – is not asking “who is that”, but refers to the New Orleans Saints football team. The saying references the Phrase “Who dat say that gone beat dem Saints?”
Living in Cajun crawfish country is the greatest places. It is a region of friendly people who know the value of a smile, the delight of a plate full of scrumptious food and humor shared among friends. So, Cher, if you are new to this land of the Cajun crawfish, then we are glad to have you. Be sure to check us out here at CajunCrawfish.com and learn more about our favorite food and the many opportunities for camaraderie here in the bayou.
Photo By Clotee Pridgen Allochuku
Last week we shared the history of some of Louisiana’s most famous crawfish festivals. However, those three are not the only ones is the state. After all, in a state that loves to party, you can be sure that there is always something happening! So, if the three crawfish festivals previously mentioned are not enough for you, then here are a few more opportunities for enjoying the sweet and savory flavors of the Louisiana crawfish.
The Immaculate Conception School Louisiana Crawfish Boil in Marrero, LA is held each year the last Saturday in March. It is the only boiling event registered and sanctioned by the State of Louisiana. As such, its winner is the only person/company that can claim they have the “best boiled crawfish in Louisiana.” Each paid admission gives one the opportunity to sample crawfish, corn, sausage, potatoes, and anything else in the pot from each competing team.
The Downtown Lake Charles Crawfish Fest is held each year in mid -April in Lake Charles, LA. The festival has more than 10,000 pounds of crawfish and all the fixins’ that people have come to expect at a Louisiana crawfish boil. There is an admission, but with all the fun, games, food, and music the price is right. The Lake Charles Crawfish Festival is touted as one of the largest indoor/outdoor crawfish festivals in the southwestern part of the state.
The Lafitte Seafood Festival in Jefferson, Louisiana is about more than just crawfish. Here, you will also enjoy shrimp, oysters, and an assortment of fish all prepared to show off the flavors of Louisiana’s heritage and culture. The event is a great way to steep yourself in all the essence of the bayou.
The Crawfish Cook-off in Westwego, LA is held each year in May; there is a charge for patrons 12 and up but those 11 and under are free if attending with an adult. The Crawfish Cook-off is known for its amazing music, dancing, opportunities for family fun, games, and most importantly, its food-especially those dishes that are part of the Crawfish Cook-off! And, if enjoying the food is not enough for you, then there are plenty of opportunities for fishing-whether it is from the riverbank or from the decks of one of the area’s charter boats.
So, whether you are looking for the chance to enjoy fine dining in the bayou or perhaps want the chance to taste the best crawfish and seafood Louisiana has to offer, be sure to check out one of these festivals or perhaps some of the others mentioned in the History of the Louisiana Festivals post. No matter what crawfish festivals you attend, you will find the people to be friendly, the entertainment to be fantastic, and the food to be fabulous!
When many people think crawfish it is often with thoughts of the Louisiana bayou, Cajun music, and Zydeco semi-imposed in the background. But, Louisiana is not the only state that hosts crawfish festivals. In fact, each year there are dozens of Louisiana-style crawfish festivals held all across the US and even on other continents. However, if you prefer to stay here in the US to enjoy the amazing flavors of the crawfish and assorted dishes, then perhaps you would like to visit some of the crawfish festivals listed here:
The Texas Crawfish and Music Festival – Held each year in Spring, Texas, this is one of the largest and most established crawfish festivals in the South. Guests are entertained by the wide array of bands-zydeco, rock, and country, the mouthwatering crawfish dishes, helicopter rides, and numerous family friendly activities.
The Gulf Coast Zydeco Music and Crawfish Festival – Each year people head to Daphne, Alabama to enjoy Creole dishes like crawfish etouffee, boiled crawfish, an assortment of other crawfish-laden dishes. Do you love to dance? Then be sure to plan some time in your day to take a class with some of the zydeco instructors who will be happy to introduce you to the music and moves of popular Louisiana style melodies.
The Red Head NYC – Each year for 4 weekends in May the elite New York City eatery, the Red Head NYC, hosts a Louisiana-style crawfish boil. Guests are invited to come enjoy the crawfish along with great side dishes such as Andouille, red potatoes, and corn on the cob.
The Rajun Cajun Festival – Experience all the fun of a Louisiana crawfish festival in sunny Orlando, Florida. The Rajun Cajun Festival is held each year in April. With Cajun music and Louisiana cuisine such as crawfish boiled New Orleans style, shrimp head-on Louisiana-style, and black bayou double-dipped fried chicken, you are sure to leave with a happy stomach and a heart and head full of happy memories.
Pensacola Crawfish Festival – In Florida’s panhandle region, there are many opportunities to have fun. One of these is the Pensacola Crawfish Festival held in Batram Park the first weekend in May. The Crawfish Festival is a great place to get a taste of Louisiana without actually being there. In addition to the assorted activities and music, you will also find Cajun delights such as crawfish poboys, crawfish pies, boiled crawfish, and many others.
The Louisiana Swamp Thing and Crawfish Festival – Located in Buda City Park in Buda, Texas, this is just the place to get your fill of all things Cajun and Creole. Bring the family and plan to have a fun and food filled day!
These are but a few of the crawfish festivals held around the country. You can also find crawfish festivals in Las Vegas, Atlanta, Tampa, Birmingham, San Diego, and Kemah, Texas. So, the next time you get a craving for some Louisiana crawfish and don’t want to head to the bayous of Louisiana, perhaps you will want to give one of these a try.
Above right photo by JC. Winkler
Delicious recipe made by Genêt Hogan raisedonaroux.com
In South Louisiana, we have many, many food traditions. Those traditions vary from family to family, but all are tied in some way to the habits, cooking practices and specific foods of our region. During the spring, for instance, it’s all about our beloved dirt- digging crustaceans–the crawfish–and the way we catch, cook and eat them. My family traditionally kicks off this special season with a festive crawfish boil orchestrated by my husband who learned how to master his 80-quart boiling pot from his dad. It’s a rite of passage in these parts. We reluctantly end the seasonal rituals with a painstaking yet delectable pot of Crawfish Bisque. Inbetween, we prepare classics like Crawfish Etouffee and also experiment with new and exciting crawfish creations. This crawfish cheesecake recipe is the result of one such experiment. It’s a creamy concoction of crawfish, cream cheese and zesty spices nestled in a savory crust of bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and pecans–fresh Louisiana pecans. And it’s a testament to the fact that crawfish are not just for boiling and cheesecakes are not just for dessert!
Savory Cajun Crawfish Cheesecake with Roasted Red Pepper Hollandaise Recipe
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup finely ground pecans
Pinch of cayenne pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/4 cup chopped green onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
4 ounces marscapone cheese
1 teaspoon Lea & Perrins (Worcestershire sauce)
1 teaspoon Creole seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound peeled crawfish tails, drained (but not rinsed) and chopped
1 1/4 cups Roasted Red Pepper Hollandaise, see recipe
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, pecans and cayenne pepper. Stir in melted butter. Press mixture into the bottom and 1-inch up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan lined with parchment paper. Place pan on a baking sheet and bake until set and golden brown, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool. Meanwhile, prepare the crawfish filling by heating olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, green onions and garlic; cook until tender, 3-5 minutes. Set aside to cool. With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and marscapone until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add Lea & Perrins, Creole seasoning, salt and black pepper. Fold in cooled onion mixture and chopped crawfish tails. Pour mixture over prepared crust and spread evenly. Return pan to baking sheet and bake until top of cheesecake is golden brown and center is just set (it should jiggle slightly when shaken), about 1 hour. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool for 15 minutes. Carefully remove cheesecake from pan and slice into 8 to 10 wedges. Serve warm with a generous amount of Roasted Red Pepper Hollandaise drizzled on top. Makes 8-10 servings.
In a small saucepan over medium high-heat, whisk together Hollandaise Sauce packet and milk; blend until smooth. Add butter and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to simmer and whisk until thickened, about 1 minute. Transfer Hollandaise Sauce to a blender, add roasted red pepper and process until smooth. Serve warm. Makes about 1 1/4 cups.
About the cook…
Genêt created Raised on a Rouxto to celebrate the culinary traditions of her family and hometown of New Orleans, and to indulge her over-the-top preoccupation with everything food and reflect on the adventures and absurdities of trying to raise her own family “on a roux.” She’s a native New Orleanian currently keeping house in the North Georgia suburbs with an incredibly loving and supportive husband and three young children. She and her husband are fortunate to have grown up in a city with a rich food and cultural heritage and strong family ties and we’re determined to pass those traditions and values on to their own children albeit 500 miles away.
Genêt coined the phrase Raised on a Roux as a metaphor for growing up in and living life as a New Orleanian no matter where you are and sharing that lifestyle with everyone around you. It’s about never meeting a stranger, working and playing hard, caring about your family, neighbors and community and living a meaningful, relaxed life. It’s about eating and drinking with total abandon (well, most of the time) and honoring your ancestors by preparing their recipes and passing them on. Being a New Orleanian is also about conveying life experiences and recalling major milestones in terms of food and sharing yourself with others by inviting them to your table for a home-cooked meal.
She invites you to stay a while, get inspired, cook, eat, laugh, reminisce and enjoy learning what it’s like to be Raised on a Roux! So join her at http://raisedonaroux.com
Crawfish, Crawdads, Mud Bugs. What is it about these beady-eyed Cajun crustaceans that warm our hearts and salivate our mouths come March each year?
Of course, they’re a delicious meat in and of themselves, as well as the perfect complement to an ice cold beer, but even more than being a favorite food, crawfish represent a beloved experience often lost by many in the rush of our modern world. Crawfish bring people together, in a spirit of “come one, come all,” to slow down, eat, and laugh.
The anticipation of that first crawfish boil of the season can be felt in the southern air as spring arrives, signifying warmer weather and good times ahead. All year, we’ve waited expectantly for crawfish season to arrive. Gathering together again around newspaper-covered picnic tables, we celebrate a blend of outdoors, camaraderie, Jimmy Buffett music, and gluttonous feasting. Pounds of salt, spices, and all the lagniappe boil away, while barefooted kids chase each other with bugs in hand. Both young and old gather, friends shoot the breeze over Abita Amber, and the excitement grows as the crawfish marinate. The first batch hits the tables, relinquished to the hungry guests, and it’s finally time to get our hands dirty.
We’re messy, our lips are burning, and yet, we continue on in our rummage through the steamy batches of seafood. With primal sophistication, we devour our sweet Louisiana lobster one by one, sucking the heads and ripping the spicy meat from the tail. Under shade trees, in parks and backyards throughout the South, we celebrate life together over those crustacean-laden tables. Our whole day is dedicated to the important things of life.
Why do us Cajuns love our crawfish? Words can’t adequately explain our passion, as it’s something that must be experienced for oneself. We welcome neighbors and newcomers alike to our festivals and backyards, as long as you eat the critters properly and heed our friendly warning to resist rubbing your eyes. If it were up to us, the whole world would experience a little more crawfish in their lives, and with it, some much needed kindness and cheer.