There is a story that when the Acadians came to Louisiana, the lobsters followed them all the way here. It was such a long journey, the lobsters grew smaller and smaller and finally became the crawfish we catch in our bayous and ponds today. This is a cute story but is in no way accurate. Actually, Native Americans were eating crawfish here long before that time. Reeds baited with deer meat were put into creeks and ponds to catch crawfish.
Even before they left Canada, seafood had already been a staple of the diet of the Acadians. Upon arriving in Louisiana, they settled along the bayous where crawfish were abundant in slow-moving waterways.
Commercial sales of crawfish did not begin until the late 1800s when nets were used to produce a more abundant harvest. But until the 1960s, crawfish was considered “poor man’s food”. For many, it was nothing more than bait.
In 1960, the first Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival was held which lead to Breaux Bridge, Louisiana being named “Crawfish Capitol of The World”. After that, crawfish became more popular in our area and restaurants began incorporating them into various dishes.
In 1972, Edwin Edwards was elected as the first Cajun governor of Louisiana. His slogan was “Cajun Power!” and that slogan sometimes appeared with a clenched fist which gripped a crawfish. In 1983, the crawfish was designated as the Louisiana state crustacean.
Crawfish are woven into our culture and our traditions. They are something many Louisianians can’t live without.
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