"Daddy, can we get crawfish for my birthday again this year?" my 7-year-old asked as her birthday neared. She loves our boiled crawfish and believes, as we do, that we boil the best in the world (got the coveted recipe from my mother-in-law).
We did not let her indulge in her favorite food on her birthday because, at the time, crawfish were selling for $3.79 a pound. That is an outrageous price to pay for crawfish in South Louisiana. That's what happens when the crop is not plentiful. Crawfish season begins in January and peaks in April or May. It doesn't really end until late June. Usually you can hear the propane tanks heating up the crawfish pots on sunny afternoons in January and you can smell the seasoning all the way down the block.
The prices do tend to be high in January, but nowhere near $3.79 a pound. By March, prices are usually down to around $1.79. At peak season you can find them for $1.19. The crawfish themselves are not the only expense. There's also the seasoning and all the extras that go into the boil: lemons, lemon juice, garlic (lots of garlic!), corn, potatoes, asparagus, onions, mushrooms, and some people even throw in smoked or andouille sausage. Oh, and don't forget the beer! Boiling crawfish is not cheap, but it is worth it.
The prices are so high this season because of Gustav and company. The major storms that hit and affected the Louisiana coastline in the fall pushed salt water into the ponds and rivers and left debris that impacted the crawfish food source. This stunted the crops. For the last couple of months we have heard experts forecast a terrible season, saying there simply won't be much crawfish this year. However, all hope is not lost. Many believe the crops are just delayed and that we will see an increased yield as we move into the peak season.
Spring is here, and as far as I can tell, the crawfish season is in full swing. True, my daughter did not get crawfish for her birthday, but she has had her fill of it this week. Just in the last five days we have been to four crawfish boils, and one night we came home with an ice chest full of crawfish from a boil we didn't even attend!
A bad season or were the crops just delayed a bit? If you ask my family, we'd say, "The pots a-boilin' and bugs are clean. It's time for a party y'all!"