Perfectly Cajun Crawfish Dishes and Their Histories

Breaux Bridge, LA is considered the Crawfish Capital of the World and was recognized by the Louisiana Legislature in 1959 for its contribution to the crawfish farming industry. What started as a Native American diet staple with the Houma tribe fishing up the crustacean with reeds covered in deer meat, has in recent years taken off even outside of Acadiana and South Louisiana.  Crawfish are a Louisiana staple, with crawfish boils marking many spring celebrations, from graduation parties to holidays and birthdays.  The regional love of crawfish began with fishing the Atchafalaya Basin and morphed into a farmable commodity when farmers realized flooding their rice fields would better meet the demands of the area. Crawfish boils evolved from recipes Acadians would use for lobster after they migrated from Canada to what is now Louisiana, using what they know as a crustacean many people say resembles miniature lobsters.

Other dishes with rich histories include crawfish étouffée; a dish using ample onions, bell pepper, celery, lots of butter, and crawfish.  What many people don’t realize is that the signature color and flavor come from the addition of the crawfish fat.  The exact date of creation for crawfish étouffée in Breaux Bridge, LA is debated, with some believing it was invented at a local restaurant around the 1950s and others believing it was created as early as the 1920s at the Hebert Hotel by Mrs. Hebert and her daughters.  Whatever its history, it is clear this unique dish swept southern Louisiana off its feet, and later the rest of the world with Cajun-inspired restaurants popping up across the globe.