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February 11, 2020
The Louisiana crawfish boil is a long standing staple of the South. As the season approaches, it is important to remember where our rich culture was born and why we continue to embody the cajun mentality today.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Louisianians, and many southerners alike, deeply appreciate the mild winter. An environmental phenomenon that has long remained a staple of the south. As the weather turns, we pull back the blinds, slide into shorts and sandals and make the most of the tail end of winter. With the breezy and cool climate comes seasonal tradition rooted in togetherness and social gathering in the form of the backyard seafood boil. As we move into the peak of crawfish season, it is important to appreciate why we do what we do. It is important to appreciate why we are who we are - a people of culture and tradition - a people of dedication and sociability. We are the “yes-sir” and “yes-mam’s” of the world. We are the “how are ya?” to strangers passing by. We live in the South.
A brief history: Where did cajuns come from? The Great Expulsion of 1755 pushed Acadians from present-day Canadian maritime provinces of Nova Scotia to the original Thirteen Colonies. Stopping first in France, the Acadians were eventually displaced throughout the world; however, a select group found their way to the southern region of the colonies. Under the influence of Henri Peyroux de la Coudreniere, a French politician and author, the displaced Acadians eventually migrated to Louisiana territory - settling along the Mississippi river and tributaries of the fragmented coastal land. Herein begins the development of Cajun culture. Finding their home in the Atchafalaya basin and Acadiana in the western Louisiana prairie lands, the Acadians created a culture so unique it has become the focal identity of Louisianians as a whole.
But where did crawfish come from? Generations of Acadians like to believe that when their ancestors were exiled from Nova Scotia, a land heavily populated by lobsters, the lobsters yearned for the Cajuns so deeply that they followed them all the way to Louisiana territory. The lobsters’ journey was so treacherous, that they shrank in size and became the crawfish that we eat today. Whether you choose to believe this or not, crawfish have become the staple crustacean of Louisiana. Evolving into a cultural tradition, we are dedicated to a specific craft. We may use our great grandfather’s pot, we may have a torn up scribbled recipe we’ve followed for generations or we may pave our own path in the process. All the while, we must remember where these traditions came from and why we do what we do.
In a generation that idolizes technology, we put the phones down for very few things. One should be the crawfish boil. Now whether or not it’s just because your hands are covered in that tasty juice, it’s important to focus on those around you. Our traditions are derived from people that only had each other. With such a deep appreciation for our culture, remember why we boil. We boil for friends, family, and because it’s what we know. We’ll pay anything to bring those closest together, and that is special. Everybody can be the best boiler, and everybody can have the best process. Use lemons, use pineapple, throw in brussel sprouts, or cocktail weenies. Make it your own, but remember why you know how. A people united, and a tradition so strong that it will forever remain.
PAVE YOUR OWN PATH.