As I look across the ever-flat terrain of the deepest parts of Louisiana, I see the land scattered with four-inch tall crawfish holes. These mounds of mud might seem insignificant, but an immense part of the Louisiana culture lays in these crawfish dwellings. Louisiana produces nearly 50,000 tons of live crawfish a year, which are harvested from November through June. These little critters have become a culinary symbol. The spring and summer months are filled with thick, humid air and the smell of backyard crawfish boils. Or, if you are between bayous Des Canes and Nezpique, your nose is directed toward D.I.’s Restaurant in Basile, Louisiana. D.I. and his wife Sherry started the restaurant in his farm equipment building and placed an all you can eat spread of boiled crawfish for $5.00. Now, the restaurant seats 275 people and includes live Cajun bands and a dance floor. People from all over the world, “with the exception of Australia”, says Sherry, have come to visit and engage in the unique Cajun culture. Piles of bright red crawfish cover the tables at D.I.’s, along with laughter, Cajun music and the cracking of shells embody the Cajun tradition.
Crawfish Boil Recipe From John Besh’s My New Orleans
2 cups of salt
1 package of Zatarian’s Crab Boil spices
5 lemons, halved
3 tablespoons of cayenne pepper
5 whole heads of garlic, halved
5 onions, halved
3 stalks of celery, cut into large pieces
3 bell peppers, seeded and diced
¼ cup of canola oil
20 small bliss potatoes
8 ears of corn, shucked and halved
20 pounds of whole crawfish, rinsed with fresh water
Fill a crawfish pot with 10 gallons of water, bring to boil then add the salt, spices, cayenne, garlic, onions, celery, peppers and oil. Reduce to simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the potatoes and corn and simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the crawfish and simmer for another 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and let the mixture sit for about 15 minutes. Strain the liquid from all of the other yummy ingredients. Dump all of the crawfish and vegetables on a platter or newspaper-covered picnic table. Serve with vinegar, salt and pepper mixture.