Super Bowl Party Preview: The Saints Have Dallas Clamoring for Crawdads

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Crawfish, crayfish, crawdads, mudbugs. Whatever you call the lobster's ugly little cousin, chances are you've eaten a few. If you're a Texas native, don't tell anyone if you haven't, unless you want the "what the hell's wrong with you, son?" stare down. This Sunday during game time, you may have the chance to chow down on a few of these Cajun-style crustaceans -- if you're one of the lucky ones.

A combination of extra cold winter weather, crawfish season's opening weekend and the New Orleans Saints' Super Bowl appearance have crawfish scarcer than -- till this year, anyway -- the Saints in the Super Bowl.

So let's look at this debacle in terms of Economics 101. Demand is far outweighing supply, which results in a much higher price point for the product. Some farms aren't even selling their crop at all, holding supply for their own personal crawfish boil, says John Alexis, vice president of TJ's Fresh Seafood Market on Preston Road. Wow, talk about the enlightened stakeholder theory. (That's Economics 501.)

But here's the simple truth. Big fans of warm, murky waters, the 'bugs don't enjoy cold weather, burrowing deep down as far as 40 feet into the muddy depths to survive the cold.

And Dallas gets a large portion of its crawfish directly from Louisiana, which is struggling with a freakishly high demand all its own. A lot of the crawfish aren't even making it to Dallas, as Saints fans in New Orleans and the surrounding areas are snatching them up. "It might be easier to get them in Miami than Dallas," jokes Alexis.

Crawfish prices from the Dallas area out to Louisiana are high, about $5.99 per pound, a direct result of the high demand. But as the season progresses, prices will be more likely to drop, sometimes as low as $2 to $3 a pound. So if you don't get your hands on them this weekend, have no fear, you have until about the Fourth of July, when the harvest ends, to get your fill.

Some local restaurants are also preparing for the big day, scheduling extra staff and putting all Creole-inspired cuisine on special. Razzoo's Keystone on Central Expressway has been following WhoDatzone.com, a Web site exclusive to Dallas-based Saints fans, according to GM Andrew Tyler. He's expecting epic crowds.

So whether you're boiling them in your backyard or leaving it to the pros, hopefully this weekend you'll be able to bring a little bit of N'awlins to your game day soiree. And if it's your first time trying them, at least try to act like you know what you're doing: open a beer, suck the head and eat the rest.

Oh yeah, and according to John Mijalis, vice president of Farmers Seafood in Shreveport, "You know someone is from Louisiana when they say, 'don't eat the dead ones!'" Laissez les bon temps rouler.

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