Crawfish season is finally rolling for real, and so the food conversation turns to the endless variations on seasoning, timing, technique, process and produce that goes into the pot.
But to me, what makes crawfish so great in Louisiana isn’t necessarily what we do to them. It’s what they do to us.
Served in massive quantities, dumped upon a table where friends and strangers feast alongside each other, crawfish are the ultimate social food. As it happens, the season hits stride just when Louisiana itself is at its most social. The floodgates for good times are open, the crawfish boil is right there in the middle of it, and sometimes it can even feel like the boil experience itself was engineered for getting people together.
There’s the pace of consumption, no faster than the speed of fingers peeling tails. There are long breathers between batches, good pauses to catch up and crack beers. And there’s the leveled playing field of sticky hands working over a spread yesterday’s news. Need proof that we’re all in this together? Just look at your hands.
Before a formal spring wedding, there may be the crawfish boil to break the ice and introduce two families. After a big festival, there’s the driveway boil back home where everyone comes together to talk about who they saw, which bands they loved and what food they ate, while stuffing their faces yet again.
After a slow start this season, crawfish are pouring in and restoring one of the cues of spring. You’d almost think the roar of the boil pot was some perennial returning songbird, and that the aroma of cayenne and clove drifting over your neighbor’s fence just comes along with the jasmine vine.
It is part of spring here, a time when we count our region's blessings before summer sets in to try our patience. This is no time to take the pleasures of our home for granted. Fortunately, we can give crawfish its due just by taking a place at the table.