Pond to Pot
There was a time when, if folks wanted some crawfish, they would hope for high water and then go searching for mud holes in the field behind the house. Or, they would park the truck along the old highway and go looking in the ditches that lined the road. At least these crawfish were survivors, having withstood passing vehicles and the occasional dripping of motor oil. That's all changed now.
Though the end might still be a boiling pot, the beginning of a crawfish's life is more plush. No longer do they come from a field or a ditch; they come from an “aquafarm." Pictured here is Frugé Aquafarms (cajuncrawfish.com) in the Acadiana community of Branch, where crawfish is raised with the same precision as the season's crops. It is amazing to see science and nature working side by side, so that we can all have better heads to suck. – Errol Laborde
Traps baited with pieces of pogie line a rice field in Branch, Louisiana, that was flooded after harvest to support the crawfish crop and is fished by Frugé Aquafarms.
Fishermen are trained to keep their eyes on the next trap to be pulled because the boat stays in constant motion even as they pull, empty, bait and place it back in the water.
Around noon each day, fishermen bring their catch to the Frugé Aquafarms facility to be washed, bagged, and shipped alive throughout Louisiana and Texas.
Nic Dion and Ronnie Boudreaux (pictured right) eagerly await the first round at a backyard boil in Lafayette. Every crawfish cook has a different take on their spices, vegetable selection and boiling technique. Elbow-to-elbow with friends and strangers, guests peel and devour the bounty.