When it comes to food, Louisianians know how to put on a spread. Hot and spicy, enough to feed an army, keep it coming, and fit for a king. That’s what I miss most about Louisiana since I’ve moved to Florida – the food – Cajun, Creole, Tex-Mex, and rice and gravy. No, not all on the same plate!
Every year for the past eight years H and I have attended the Pensacola Crawfish Festival, held in Pensacola which is about an hour away from us. It’s a permanent mark on our calendar for the first weekend in May. There are lots of Crawfish festivals around this area, but we choose to go to this one because the crawfish, aka – crawdads or mud bugs, are shipped in from Louisiana and the cooks are from there too. Let’s face it – if you want the best crawfish you go to Louisiana! I may be a tad predjudious.
Stopping first at the t-shirt booth, I searched through the merchandise because I had to have the current festival T and I always get Andrew one because he’s usually busy with school at this time of year. At least he knows I think of him. My shirt was $20 and his was $24. Mine had sleeves so I got more bang for my buck!
H noticed when we arrived there weren’t as many people as usual. There were still a lot and we still had to wait in a long line to get our six pounds of crawfish with potatoes and corn to the tune of $40 – $20 per three pounds. We always go back for seconds. Rule of thumb for a crawfish boil is to plan for at least five pounds of crawfish per person.
While we stood in line we had our usual fried boudin (pronounced boo-dan) balls as an appetizer – four for $5. You haven’t lived until you’ve eaten boudin balls. I guess I could probably make these at home – but let’s face it – I won’t. Here’s a recipe if you are wondering just what these little jewels consist of.
Our first supicions of change in the festival this year was that the crawfish booth required cash only with a $3 increase of the cost. Good thing I had gone to the bank. I had assured H they took debit cards though as he insisted we bring cash in with us. Not this year.
Our second clue was when they insisted H did not need extra seasoning to sprinkle on his crawfish because they have seasoned theirs well and soaked them for a long time. They are usually happy to comply with a small to-go container of Zatarains. But not the vendor today. He was having none of that!
Our drinks were purchased at the next booth for $6 for two 20 oz sodas because let’s face it – if those crawfish were as hot and spicy and well-seasoned as the vendor claimed, we would need something cold and wet to cool us off and take the burn from our mouths.
Finding a seat at the tables was another matter. When we finally did find two vacant seats together, we didn’t stay long. They were right next to the dj station and speakers bigger than my car were waaaay too close. I shook my head and motioned for H to follow me. Now we know why those seats were free. My ears are still ringing.
We opened our boxes ready to dig into the fare – with no extra seasoning. It looked good. It smelled good. It tasted ok. Just ok. We were disappointed. Our lips weren’t burning. They should be burning. There was no worrying about rubbing our eyes accidentally with red peppered fingers. The expensive sodas only washed away the blandness. Needless to say, we didn’t go back for our second boxes.
We stopped by the boudin booth on our way out for another round of fried boudin balls so we could at least say we had some great Louisiana food at the festival and something to show for the $110 we dropped in less than an hour.
Being from Louisiana is sometimes a disadvantage for me because I know when the cooking is authentic and I know when it’s a bad copy. This was a bad copy. Most of the people around us had no clue, but were still having a great time!
So we haven’t really gotten our crawfish fix yet this year…We tried.