Good afternoon, ladies and gents. Venerable Crawfish here.
We have always held the notion that crawfish are best consumed fresh. By fresh, we mean a product that has never been frozen. To paraphrase Bubba Blue, if you like to eat crawfish stew, crawfish etouffee, boiled crawfish, sauteed crawfish, crawfish fettuccine, crawfish cocktail, crawfish spaghetti, you ought to get the freshest.
So we were glad that Representative Charles Boustany of Lafayette, La., a city just west of Breaux Bridge (The Crawfish Capital of the World) got a measure tacked onto a trade bill that provides for the United States Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, the Commerce Department and the International Trade Administration to investigate complaints and guard U.S. ports against improper trade practices, such as “dumping.”
In other words, Asian producers will be investigated and fined if they dump crawfish into Louisiana at prices below the cost of production. How did the Louisiana crawfish get to China?
In the book, Louisiana Crawfish: A Succulent History of the Cajun Crustacean, the chapter “That Pesky Supply and Demand Thing,” author Sam Irwin wrote,
For several years, Chinese crawfish lurked around the edges of the market. Restaurants and other retail outlets were using them but kept it relatively hush-hush. A 1996 Advocate article revealed that many of the food vendors at the esteemed New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival were using Chinese crawfish. It was an embarrassing debut, kind of like a drunk uncle at Christmas.
“The Chinese have taken over the crawfish pies, étouffée, file gumbo and most other crawfish dishes at the huge outdoor festival,” wrote Advocate reporter Mary Foster. “The crawfish from overseas are too cheap to pass up.“
How did Chinese crawfish get to Louisiana? First, a Louisiana bullfrog brought them to Japan from New Orleans, and later, Louisiana merchants invited them back.
The rest of the story is detailed in Irwin’s fine book. I declare, this old Crawfish finds Irwin’s prose a delight to read.
Crawfish was also gratified to read that a modicum of support has been offered by Representative Boustany, President Obama and Customs officials. Crawfish recommends that you read Louisiana shrimp, crawfish industries encouraged by new trade protections by NOLA.com’s Richard Rainey.
Venerable Crawfish reminds everyone that Louisiana invented crawfish. It’s much too important a delicacy to leave to foreign producers to supply us.
Some of the locations where Irwin’s book include the better bookstores and bait shops, and online retailers. But specifically, his books may be found at:
Cottonwood Books, Baton Rouge
Mary’s Ace Hardware, New Orleans
Southern University Bookstore, Baton Rouge
Louisiana Purchase, Natchitoches
Bolton Healthmart, Baton Rouge
Gordon Drug Store, Lake Charles
Tubb’s Hardware and Cajun Gifts, Bossier City
Louisiana Cajun Stuff, Houma
Bienville Parish Library, Arcadia
Louisiana Marketshops at the 115, Henderson