Crawfish Time, Inc.
“I grew up eating crawfish...if we wanted to eat, we had to learn how to peel them.” Aimee Miller, Manager
For grateful guests, part of what makes a backyard boil so special is knowing how much patience and trouble goes into hosting the event. No matter how you do it, boiling crawfish for your family and friends is a lot of work. And as the city of Lafayette has gradually grown more urbanized, some residents find they have less and less leisure to spare for backyard boils. With all the demands of modern living, there just seems to be so little time for all the preparation, cooking, and cleaning that a proper boil requires.
But nostalgia is a powerful force in Acadiana. The smell of spice and steam rising from a mound of just-dumped crawfish; the blaze of cayenne on the lips and fingertips; the pleasant memory of peeling tails with friends late into a lazy spring evening—these things are just too good to let go of. And, anyway, boiled crawfish simply taste too good.
So places like the aptly named Crawfish Time on Moss Street have sprung up to meet the needs of people who still have a taste for boiled crawfish, if not the time. At this establishment there are a few tables where patrons can sit and peel, but Crawfish Time is mainly designed for drive-thru customers who want to pick up a few pounds on their way home to the family or perhaps to join their friends at the park.
And, apparently, there are a lot of people in Lafayette who like the convenience of crawfish served this way, especially during Lent when workers in the back of the shop will scramble to boil, dump, and bag more than a 100 sacks of live crawfish per night. Each sack weighs in at 30 to 35 pounds. And, of course, along with all those sacks of crawfish come pounds of seasoned potatoes, corn, and onions, served hot and fast on the fly.
For all their hustle and hurry, though, the boilers at Crawfish Time know that there are still some things that just can’t be rushed. Crawfish have to be boiled and steeped in their seasonings long enough to take in the flavor, but exactly how long can be a matter of subtle discretion. Unlike some commercial operations, Crawfish Time doesn’t used timers or clocks to tell them when their crawfish have cooked enough; instead, like the old time backyard boilers, “they just know.”
When the boilers reckon they’ve been in long enough, the crawfish are hoisted out of the water and dumped into large coolers for seasoning. Getting the seasonings right is the trickiest part; it requires a balanced mix of spices, says manager Aimee Miller, and a good instinct for timing. Once the crawfish have been dusted with seasoning, they receive a vigorous mixing by a person wearing elbow-length industrial black rubber gloves. Then the cooler is closed, allowing the spice to steam itself into the hot crawfish. For how long? Just until they’re ready.