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Where Y’Eat: Crawfish Season Brings Cravings, and Hope

Crawfish are a way of life in Louisiana.
Ian McNulty
Crawfish are a way of life in Louisiana.

As the pandemic continues, it’s hard to feel certain of anything one day to the next. But then a whole season comes along as a comfortingly consistent anchor. It’s crawfish season, and the tough little mudbug is keeping one touchstone of local culture at least somewhat intact.

The pandemic arrived last year when crawfish season was just beginning, and crawfish quickly emerged as a rare bright spot. Restaurants reduced to takeout only in the early days found the local appetite for crawfish as voracious as ever.

As this season begins, many are looking to crawfish to work that magic again. The stakes are even higher for small businesses that have been battered by a year of changing restrictions and scant revenue. For people aching for a taste of normalcy, it’s a reminder of what endures.

The start of Lent always signals prime time for crawfish in Louisiana. The festivals and big parties where crawfish take center stage are still off the table. But crawfish is still here, and people are still getting their fix. Crawfish is inherently takeout friendly after all, and an outdoor spread is the natural habitat to enjoy them, even in smaller circles.

Prognosticators have been watching the industry for signs of how price and production will flow this year. The impact of the hard freeze on the crawfish heartland of southwest Louisiana has blurred earlier predictions.

It’s just the latest twist in a time of compounding change. Everywhere, old pros in the crawfish game have been adapting to new ways of doing business, with curbside crawfish, crawfish delivery and smaller batches instead of huge hauls.

But as long as they can get crawfish, and people can get to them, they know they can make this work yet again this season. Of all the demands and desires pent up in people through this pandemic, crawfish is still one they can satisfy.

Copyright 2021 WWNO - New Orleans Public Radio. To see more, visit WWNO - New Orleans Public Radio.

Ian is the host of Where Y’Eat and the Community Impact series at WWNO.