I grew up in East Texas in a predominantly Cajun family, so crawfish season always makes me nostalgic for the days of sitting in the back seat of my dad's truck with a wiggling 20 pound burlap sack of mudbugs. At first, I was horrified for being responsible for sending countless crawdads to their delicious ends, but I soon got over it.
Sometimes, sacrifice is necessary.
As the 2011 season begins, crawfish fans and sellers have been a bit worried about the quality of the mudbugs this year. Jon Alexis, president of TJ's Fresh Seafood Market and Catering, says recent winter storms have had a noticeable effect on the supply so far.
"Crawfish hate cold weather," he says, "so the crawfish farmers just aren't getting the catch they want."
Knowing that last year's season wasn't too hot either, I made a few calls to my favorite cajun spots to see what's up. As you might expect, a short supply and rising fuel costs have driven prices up so far this season, though things might look up in the months ahead.
"It has been up and down with the cold weather, but my last shipment looked good, ranging in size from medium to large," says John Galvan, co-owner of Johnny G's in Lewisville.
Aw Shucks currently has boiled crawfish at $6.95 a pound, and the bugs are average size.
Bayou Market reports their supply is running medium to big in size, and they had the best price I could find at $4.94 a pound boiled and $4.25 a pound live and squirming.
Alexis says he's holding off selling crawfish for now, until prices and quality improve, and recommends customers look into cheaper options such as shrimp, if they are in desperate need for a Cajun-style seafood boil.
As the season progresses and temperatures rise, crawfish prices will begin to decline, and from what Alexis said, crawfish farmers are speculating that this season may last well into August. So you better start stocking up on andouille sausage, corn, potatoes and plenty of beer, because Mardi Gras and St. Patrick's Day are just a few weeks away.