TALES FROM THE BAYOU: Crawfish Boils & Mudbug Races

crawfish

 

Anyone who tells you crawfish taste like lobster is wrong. Crawfish tastes better and if you ever lived in the bayou areas of southern Louisiana you would probably agree with me.

Outsiders to life in the swamps might look at this picture and think, “I would never eat that!” But if you come from a poor family and wonder a lot where you next meal is gonna come from, that plate represents some tasty times in the Lavergne family while I was growing up.

There was a small creek cutting through the back yard of a house I lived in as a child and after a heavy rain, I would run out back with my siblings to check for crawfish holes. Those crafty mudbugs would bury themselves deep into the wet ground and there were only two ways to get them out. One was by tying something like a small piece of bread to the end of a string before lowering it into the crawdad hole. If you were lucky, a crawfish would clamp down on the bread with one of it’s claws and you could pull them out of the hole. Crawfish are ornery critters and almost always refuse to let go once they’ve latched onto something.

The other way (one I NEVER chose to join in on) was to walk barefoot through that creek and hope a crawfish would find one of your toes appealing enough to clamp onto it! I use to watch my brother and sisters walk the creek trying to catch crawfish but was never foolish enough to try it myself!

Every so often my father would bring home huge bags of crawfish for the family. I’m not sure if he bought them, trapped them himself, or if they were a gift from someone taking pity on us. No matter…it was three hundred pounds of instant fun for us.

For racing, I would pick whichever one seemed to be crawling around the fastest and then pit it against my siblings’ choices. For fighting, the champion would be the one with the largest pinchers. Either way, they all eventually ended up in a large cauldron of boiling water flavored with crawfish boil seasonings, new potatoes and corn on the cob.

Then there would be a mad dash to cover our dining room table with multiple layers of newspapers as Mother began dumping pan after pan of delicious crawfish onto the papers and everyone could eat their fill. Tails were pulled from whatever was left over and put in the freezer for later. Many a night Mother would watch her TV shows while cracking open the shells until her fingers bled just so her children could have food for another day.

I didn’t realize the sacrifices my mother made back then but I do now. There aren’t many crawfish holes around the hills of Tennessee but whenever I do get the chance to enjoy some crawfish, I always remember the wonderful crawfish boils made possible by a parent doing everything she could to keep her children fed.

Thanks, Mom.

 

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HM Hunting Gris-Gris Epub cover

 

Amelia Earmouse travels back through time to uncover little known events. You may THINK you know your history, but wait until you see what Amelia uncovers in book three of HISTORY’S MYSTERIES.

Eleven-year-old Emma misses her father who’s serving in Europe during World War II. He leaves behind a treasure box with six compartments to be opened during her birthday week. He also tells her to watch for the gris-gris while he is gone. Looking out for swamp creatures and dealing with wartime rationing is hard enough, but now there’s a British refugee staying at the house! How will Emma enjoy her birthday and keep her decision to hunt the gris-gris a secret with a stranger following her around?

 

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donna - Copy

 

Best-selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of flash fiction, children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection.

TALES FROM THE BAYOU: Find Me A Crawdad Hole…

crawfish

 

As a child growing up near the swamps of southern Louisiana, there were a couple of things I was sure of….

Alligators could come to visit us whenever they wanted.

Crawfish were fun to play with.

Growing up poor on the bayou didn’t give me many opportunities to play with the fancier toys other children in my small hometown would, so I would make up my own unique forms of play…like hunting for crawfish.

There was a tiny ditch zig-zagging its way through our back yard at one of many houses I lived at during my childhood. Whenever it rained my siblings and I would get ready for what we knew was going to happen. That little ditch would fill up with water and before you know it, crawfish would be drawn to that mini-bayou in our back yard. 

I never knew how they actually got there, but as soon as mother told us we could, we would run barefoot through the squishy backyard to that ditch. My brother David, who was six years older than myself and far braver than I would ever be while living in that house, would calmly tread his way in that water from one side of the yard to the other. He was using his toes as bait for the crawfish we knew were hiding just under the surface. Of course it would hurt like the dickens when one of those mudbugs caught a toe with those front pinchers, but my brother would just scramble out of the water to toss his prize into a nearby bucket we brought for just such an occasion.

You would have to ask my sister, Janet, if she ever followed our brother into the ditch. My memories feel like she did, but I just might be putting her on a bravery pedestal like I did my brother. Scaredy-cat me, I did the next best thing. Stretching out a long piece of string, I dipped one end into the mudholes I would find nearby. Even at six years old I knew crawfish liked to burrow themselves into the mud after a rain and I’d never met a crawfish that didn’t like to grab onto anything that got in its way. Patience eventually paid off and I could pull that string up with one or sometimes two angry crawdads clinging on for dear life.

We never caught more than a handful, but it was just enough to have some crawfish races on the sidewalk. All Cajuns knew crawfish ran backwards when they’re trying to get away from something so the “finish-line” was always placed behind them.

When you’re a kid and dirt poor, there are always ways to have a little fun on the bayou…

 

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