When Texas was still Mexico and Louisiana had just ceased being France, the border area between the two states was called Neutral Strip, a kind name for a no man’s land, the most dangerous part of the trip for all kinds of migrants trying to get to Texas. People wanted to come here for the most diverse reasons, but many came because in Texas they gave you land.
Nowadays, starting February and till June, we all move backwards, towards the Louisiana border for the crawfish season.
Crawfish are freshwater crustacean, they look like small-scale lobsters and the rest of the world calls them crayfish. Down here they call them mudbugs, and this is the season when you can buy them or, even better, have someone cooking them for you in the many restaurants and shacks that open this time of the year.
I investigated, and found out that crawfish are farmed in dedicated ponds in this area: in the hot summer months, the ponds are drained and the crawfish dig into the earth for a couple of inches, chasing moisture and coolness.
In autumn (that here doesn’t start till October), the pond are filled again, and the crawfish are free to go around eating, molting, multiplying… by November/December they will start to grow to reach optimal size in February and March.
Alas, this year half of the season has been spoiled by the inclement weather that has struck first the Texas-Louisiana border (I-10 has been closed for a couple of weeks in mid march) and then the Houston area.
This is why I could go try Cajun style crawfish so late!
Cajun style means that the crawfish, once they have been purged, are boiled with Cajun spice, together with corn and potatoes, and sausage.
You order by the pound, and the waiter asks you how spicy you want your crawfish, and eventually adds more Cajun spice.
We visited to 2 places, Crawfish Shack in Crosby, TX, and Juju’s Cajun Crawfish Shack in Fannett, TX.
Opening hours vary depending on availability, and it’s a good idea to call ahead or to give a look at website/Facebook pages to know the latest. They usually answer in reasonable time. Both are BYOB, and I’d bring also a couple of hand wipes, for your hands will sure get messy!
In Crosby, we ordered a “trio”, consisting in crawfish, shrimps and snow crab, and it came with potatoes, corn and a pink spicy-ketchup-mayo-something sauce for dip.
Our waiter, Christian, gave us a brief tutorial on how to approach the crawfish, because they come coated in their beautiful flamant red armour: you twist the head, then crack the first two rings of the shell, then simply extract the meat by simply pushing it out of the straightened tail.
We also learnt that a person can easily eat 3 pounds of crawfish.
Therefore, when we went to Fannett, we ordered like pros: 5 pounds each of crawfish (potatoes, corn and dip sauce are to be ordered separately).
Juju’s is a 70 miles drive from Houston, and it’s absolutely worth it: the crawfish were big and juicy, so juicy in facts that by the end of the meal, cajun spice was dripping from our elbows, and our fingertips were burning.
When they arrived at the table, the crawfish were piping hot, so hot I could not touch them, but in spite of this I found myself checking them every five seconds, ’cause I couldn’t wait to eat them! And I know it sound crazy, but also the potatoes were extremely good.
It’s a family owned and operated business, and the very kind lady who tended to us said that they’re going to be open until the end of june. So there’s still plenty of time for you to visit!
Just keep in mind that the place is very small, and also the parking lot in front of it: if you plan to go during the weekend, save yourself the wait and reserve ahead.