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Tracking Down Mudbugs

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Q. Where can I get some good crawfish tails? I'm from Louisiana but now live in Boston! Help!

A. When we lived in Boston, the North End was primarily Italian. South Boston was largely Irish. Chinatown needed no description. And the Cajun section,… well, we can't recall that there was a Cajun part of town. (If you remember your history, the Acadians were driven from Nova Scotia by the British in 1775 and many took up residence in Louisiana, where they took to eating crawfish (among other things) and eventually became known as Cajuns. Perhaps the Boston climate, proximity to Nova Scotia, and general lack of a crawdad market has kept most Cajuns away in the intervening 225 years. Whatever the reason, there is no Cajun quarter in Boston.)

The crayfish, crawfish, crawdads, or mudbugs are likewise absent from the Boston fish market. While there are 250 varities in the United States (including some that live in burrows on land), most commercial harvesting and farming occurs only in and around the fresh water bayous and ponds of Louisiana.

There are a number of Louisiana companies that will ship crayfish within the US. B&T Seafood, with a really challenging Web site, sells live or boiled crayfish in season (generally December to July), and frozen anytime of the year (as well as alligator, frog's legs, and some of those other southern treats you've been missing)., has live farmed crayfish year-round (significantly more expensive out of season), as well as cooked, frozen tails from Louisiana and imported from China, and also crawfish cakes. There are quite a number of sources available online, and, short of going home for a visit, are likely to be your best option for cooking up a mess o' crawdads (that is the right expression, isn't it?)

Finally, if you get tired of eating 300 or 400 bugs and still feeling hungry, you might like to try our northern version and close cousin of the crawdad — the lobster. You might like it.

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