Despite slim pickings, Louisianans clamor for crawfish
BATON ROUGE - As families across Louisiana plan to gather for Easter celebrations this weekend, one of the state's most valued delicacies is likely to be a part of many an event.
Crawfish, typically a highlight of large gatherings in Louisiana, is usually in high demand come Easter season.
But in the past 13 months, as unprecedented events have upended nearly every tradition, crawfish season is also facing a few hurdles of its own.
While the COVID-19 health crisis has affected the season, it's the weather that appears to be the main culprit.
According to The Advocate, even before February's unusual freeze, the crawfish crop had been hampered by an ill-timed November cold snap, which slowed up growth, said Greg Lutz, an LSU AgCenter crawfish specialist.
The cold-blooded creatures are equipped to survive in water temperatures that are near freezing, and colder water is saturated with oxygen, which allows them to simply wait for the water to warm.
So, it isn't that the cold weather is killing the crawfish directly.
Lutz explaiend to The Advocate that the real issue boils down to how the freeze affects vegetation in crawfish ponds.
Crawfish eat little bits and pieces of stems and leaves, and a hard freeze makes these plants break down more swiftly than usual, which means there isn't much left for the crawfish to dine on later in the season.
As a result, this season, crawfish are not as abundant as they have been in times past and prices are higher than usual for the time of year.
Despite the lack of abundance, demand for the mudbugs remains high.
Mike Tramonte, owner of Tramonte's Meat and Seafood, noticed this and spoke with WBRZ about the growing demand for crawfish, saying, "This year we were seeing some things that we've never seen in the past. You know, we've been here for about 20 years and we've never turned people away. We've never had a special list. This year, the only thing we have is Sunday orders that we might be able to fill, as far as availability. We're telling people urgently to call to get on the list. "
Interested customers can call (225) 751-7665 to be added to the list.
Tramonte lamented the difficulties of this year's season, saying, "It's just been a really tough year, I think everybody knows that and it's really shed light, with Good Friday and Easter Weekend, how short they actually are."
He agreed that the cold weather extending into February appeared to have a negative impact on the season.
Despite the smaller crop of crawfish, Louisiana families are adapting to the change in circumstance and making the best use of what's available.
For example, some may choose to prepare a simple, crawfish etouffee dish like the one below, which was created by Louisiana cook and author, Holly Clegg.
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
-1 onion, chopped
-1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
-1 teaspoon minced garlic
-1 cup fat-free chicken broth
-1 tablespoon paprika
-1 pound Louisiana crawfish tails, rinsed and drained
-Salt and pepper to taste
-1 bunch green onion stems, finely chopped
-In large nonstick skillet coated with nonstick cooking spray, heat oil and stir in flour.
-Cook over medium heat until light brown, about 6–8 minutes, stirring constantly.
-Add onion, green pepper, and garlic.
-Sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.
-Gradually add broth and stir until thickened.
-Add paprika and crawfish. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste.
-Stir in green onions and cook for another few minutes before serving.
-Serve over rice and enjoy!
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