Where Y’Eat: At Smaller Tables This Year, Louisiana’s Crawfish Ritual Endures

Apr 9, 2020

Easter bunnies sure get around. You see those rascals everywhere this time of year. But in Louisiana we have something else that signals the season, and it’s Easter crawfish.

No matter where Easter falls on the calendar, the stretch from Good Friday through Easter Sunday is prime time for Louisiana crawfish.

With everything that’s been upended so far in the coronavirus fight, it’s hard to feel certain of anything one day to the next. And yet the tough little crawfish, with its hard shell and its claws held up defiantly right to the end, has kept one touchstone of local culture somewhat intact.

Of course, one of the compelling powers of crawfish is the way it gathers people together. The usual elbow-to-elbow interactions of big groups around the boil are off the table right now as we fight the pandemic.

But crawfish is still here, and people are still getting their fix in their small household groups. It boils down to tradition and adaptation.

For some restaurants, crawfish are a lifeline, since a bag of boiled seafood is inherently take-out friendly, and will draw people even when their own kitchens are packed with stay-at-home food supplies. Some have made curbside crawfish their forte, creating DIY drive-through operations.

Many traditions are being recast this season for the realities we’ve been dealt. But they endure.

You’ll still hear the boiling pots roaring from front yards and driveways and the smell of cayenne and clove will still drift over a neighbor’s fence like springtime jasmine. On porches and around kitchen tables, people will be peeling and pinching, eating their fill and putting some aside for the bisque and etouffee to come.

These are not just food cravings, they are hardwired rituals, the rites of a season that connect the people who partake. They will be shared in small circles this time around. But sometimes a tighter focus helps reveal why our traditions really matter.