When I first arrived in Western Louisiana back in November of last year, some folks from the local office were driving me around the area so I could become familiar with the local geography.
One day a young woman was taking me out into the more rural areas and I kept seeing what looked like rice fields. I assumed they were rice fields since I had already seen several rice processing plants during our travels…but I was only half-right.
The fields were vast. low-lying lands that were covered in water and had strange looking contraptions placed throughout them. When I asked what they were I was told they were traps. “Traps?” I asked, “Traps for what?” I was thinking there must have been some sort of predators out there eating up all the rice. Thus you can imagine my surprise when she said the traps were there to catch crawfish.
Because, you see, that was my second misconception. I had always thought crawfish only lived in rivers, lakes or other bodies of fresh water. I had no idea that there were crawfish farmers raising them on land by creating those bodies of water.
Here’s where I was half-right. Those WERE rice fields. But come September or so, after the rice has been harvested, crawfish farmers flood the land, dump crawfish in to eat the rice stumps that are now in mud (good for making crawfish grow and it clears the rice stump from the land) and have lots of baby crawfish, then trap them, sell them and have their land ready for the next rice crop. It’s really a very efficient system. And it’s how crawfish got the nickname “mudbugs.”
But that’s about as far as my admiration for the system and crawfish extends. I haven’t eaten any of them or dishes with them in it while here in Louisiana. They remind me of lobster in their looks and of shrimp in the way they are eaten and I’ve never cared for either of those crustaceans so I have serious doubts I’ll find these appetizing. What was it someone called them…the cockroaches of water life?
Or, just as appetizing, mudbugs.
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