Living Ind

Growth Spurt

by Mary Tutwiler

It's behind schedule, but crawfish season is heating up.

While Cajuns may be feeling the pinch of a lean crawfish harvest, one sure sign the season is turning is the advent of boiled crawfish on lunch menus. Warm weather and spring rains have begun to fill ponds crippled by Hurricane Rita. As a result, boiled crawfish are turning up a nice medium-to-large size, says Paul's Pirogue Manager Terry Soignier. The crawfish are plentiful enough to fill both the dinner and the noontime bill. "I don't run out," Soignier assures diners willing to make the trek up to Carencro.

The season is six weeks behind schedule right now. South of La. 14, ponds that double as rice in the summer and crawfish in winter and spring were flooded by Rita's saltwater storm surge. The salt killed the rice plants ' food for young crawfish ' and stunted the crustaceans' growth. Even before the storm, a drought had crawfish buried deep in mud, and the lack of rain continued through winter months. The double whammy of drought and hurricane contributed to the dearth of crawfish. Meanwhile, New Orleans and Houston restaurants were willing to pay top dollar ' $8 a pound, further siphoning supplies.

Soignier says the crawfish harvest is really starting to take off right now. While costs still reflect the farmers' hardships, prices are beginning to drop. A 4-pound order of boiled crawfish cost $25 in November. Today, Paul's Pirogue has that same order on the menu for $18.95. And if anticipated spring showers do their job and fill ponds and the Atchafalaya Basin, crawfish shouldn't have any trouble rebounding.

Paul's Pirogue is located at 209 E. St. Peter St. in Carencro. For more info, call 896-3788.