Where Y’Eat: After A Cold Winter, A Crawfish Waiting Game

Feb 15, 2018

No matter what else you put into your crawfish boil, one crucial ingredient is patience. That’s what enforces the proper timing for soaking, boiling and resting the mudbugs, even when everyone is ready to eat, clutching their koozies and staring at the pot.

Patience may be more important than ever right now, thanks to a curious disconnect between the idea of “seasons” in the crawfish game.

The arrival of Lent normally signals the start of crawfish season in Louisiana, at least in people’s minds. But this year, you have to factor in the combination of a very early Lent and a historically cold winter.

Crawfish have been around, but the supply has been inconsistent, the prices have been high and the crawfish have been running small. I’ve eaten some lately that make the Perlis Clothing logo look like it was stitched to actual size.

Fortunately, crawfish experts say the hard freeze that visited Louisiana likely did no lasting damage to the crop. But the durable mudbug’s survival mechanism for the cold entails chilling out. They burrow deep and go into a sort of hibernation. That means they weren’t feeding and growing, and that has put the season back a bit.

But while the supply shifts with weather, demand is set by something more predictable. Cooking crawfish is a ritual here; gathering around crawfish is a tradition. If you’re the one who always boils crawfish for the first weekend of Lent, you’re going to boil crawfish for the first weekend of Lent, no matter if that day is in mid-February or early March.

Crawfish could still come through strong this season; only time will tell. But crawfish lovers may want to draw more on that virtue of patience in the meantime.

So when you’re digging through piles of bumble bee-sized mudbugs, just consider it practice for the main bout to come. And if you hear anyone complaining that this winter harvest must portend a bad crawfish season on the way, take the gripe with a grain of salt, and maybe some cayenne and garlic too.