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Perhaps considered an unofficial mascot of New Orleans, crawfish hold a special place in the heart of every Louisiana resident. They are known by several different names, including craydids, crawdaddies, mudbugs, or yabbies, but they will always be known as crawfish in Louisiana. Crawfish are a major component in many Louisiana dishes, including etouffee and pie. In fact, these little crustaceans are so loved that they even gained themselves their own season.
What are Crawfish?
Crawfish, originally referred to as crayfish, are small crustaceans that are found in fresh water settings all over the world. Most crawfish cannot live in polluted water, but there are some exceptions. They bear a resemblance to the much larger lobster, which they are related to. In terms of taste, they are often compared to shrimp and lobster. While they are popular all over the world, including Sweden and Spain, they are predominantly found in Louisiana. In fact, approximately 95% of all the crawfish that is consumed in the United States alone is harvested from Louisiana. Louisiana’s abundance of swamps, rivers, and lakes makes the state the perfect habitat for these well-loved crustaceans.
Crawfish are characterized by a joined head and thorax and come in a variety of colors, including sandy yellow, green, red, or dark brown. Their head sports a sharp snout and their eyes sit on movable stalks. They have to ability to breathe through feather-like gills. While their exoskeleton is thin, it is considerably tough. They possess power pinchers called chelae, located at the front of their body. Crawfish typically grow to be about 3 inches long, but the largest can grow to 15 inches.
While commonly used for food, crawfish can be used for a wider variety of things. Crawfish are often used as bait, whether live or only tail meat, in order to attract a variety of ray-finned fishes. It is important, however, that these crustaceans only be used in the same environment that they are caught. Surprisingly, crawfish can also be kept as pets. They can be kept in freshwater aquariums and can live off a variety of food, including regular and tropical fish food, algae wafers, and small fish.
While crawfish season is a well-known to Louisiana residents, there is no official set season. It roughly begins in March and ends in June. There is an increase of the crawfish population during these months, allowing them to be eaten in large amounts. A typical crawfish boil usually involves spicy boiled crawfish, corn, and andouille sausage. They can be eaten by the pound and are often poured directly onto tables lined with newspapers for large gatherings to enjoy.
This unique season brings along several events and festivals to celebrate Louisiana’s national crustacean. Giant crawfish boils gather a large number of visitors, craving the taste that only Louisiana knowns how to offer. Beginning in late April, the Nola Crawfish Festival hosts crawfish eating contests, live music, and much more. It is located at Central City BBQ and lasts until May.
Located two hours away from New Orleans, the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival hosts live music among other things. This festival is only for one weekend in May, so make sure you know the exact date in advance. Crawfish Mambo is hosted by the University of New Orleans and features an all-you-can-eat crawfish boil as well as live music. This festival usually takes place in May.
See It For Yourself
Get a first-hand look of where crawfish live with Cajun Encounters. Guests can travel down the Honey Island Swamp, experiencing the beauty of one of the most untarnished ecosystems in America first-hand. If that is not enough, there are plenty of educational opportunities to learn about the plants and animals that inhabit it.
Cajun Encounters is always open and ready for those who wish to experience a little adventure outside of daily norms. Guests are guaranteed the best educational experience possible with trained experts as their guides. Cajun Encounters is working hard to ensure not only the satisfaction but also the safety of its visitors by implementing proper COVID-19 protocol.
Book your tour today at https://www.cajunencounters.com or calling 504.834.1770 before all the spots are all filled up. You do not want to miss this family-friendly, educational experience.