LOCATION: New Iberia, Louisiana – at the Cajun Fest
CAMPGROUND: 3rd night at Isle of Iberia RV Park
WEATHER: Rain overnight. Cloudy in AM, turning in to a nice day. High 80
The fest’s coordinator had arranged for us to tour a crawfish farm this morning. We met at a crawfish shop then followed the farmer in a prosession of cars about 30 minutes down country roads until we got to his farm. We were surrounded by crawfish ponds.
The farmer was in a bad mood at first, he told us, as he just got off the phone with his distributor who had lowered his price for the crawfish. The farmer did a little “rant” about how the distributors jerk the farmers around, lowering the prices and setting limits on the amount of crawfish they will accept. It was interesting – like all kinds of farming, I think. The farmer wore an interesting get-up…..shorts with high-rise boots…..
Then, he took us over to the boat where a worker was harvesting the crawfish. We learned the cycle….. Farmers plant rice in the fields, and then they harvest the rice around August each year. In September/October, they flood the fields and seed the fields with pregnant crawfish. The crawfish eat the bits of rice left after the rice is harvested. They start catching the crawfish in January and continue through to July. When the harvest ends (when the crawfish disappear in the mud due to the heat), they drain the fields. Then, they start all over again…
The crawfish were near the banks, so we caught a few by hand…
Some of us went on the boat to watch the worker (a Mexican) catch the crawfish.
The boat goes down the row of the crawfish cages/baskets. In one smooth motion, the worker grabs the cage that has the crawfish in it, and exchanges it for a new basket that has some fish heads (bait) in it. He dumps the crawfish onto a shelf where the crawfish skitter into bags. The bags are then loaded onto trucks and are sent to distribution centers.
We learned that this is a relatively new business. Before the 1970s, crawfish wasn’t that popular. When it became a popular dish, the farmers started this rice/crawfish combo farming.
After the tour, George and I headed to a nearby brewery – of course! He had their black IPA and a stout.
On our way back to the RV park, we stopped for lunch at a really good Cajun restaurant. We sat at the bar so George could chat up the waitress. We shared a blackened catfish fillet and some grilled asparagus. It is not like any catfish I have ever had – very mild, perfectly cooked – just melt in your mouth – type of fish.
We went over to the clubhouse for a group photo – These are always a disaster, but we participated. While we were there, our friend Rob realized he had locked his keys in their RV. Irene didn’t have the extra set with her. So, what to do? We found the bedroom window was not locked, so I climbed the step stool and wiggled in through the small window. Trix, their dog, was inside and didn’t know what to think of this. She must have thought it was a game, as she jumped all over me, licking me. In any case, it was a success! George thinks I should advertise this RV B&E gig as a new source of income!
Step #1 – Rob opened the window and pushed open the shade.
Step #2 – Their dog Trix got excited and stuck her head out. Rob had to push her away
Step #3 – Rob held the step ladder while I climbed up
Step #4 – I climbed wobbily to the top wrung, pushing Trix away
Step #5 – And I am in!
DINNER: The group all ate together again. Tonight’s menu was gumbo. It was pretty good, but not as good as some we have had in restaurants. Dessert was Southern bread pudding.
We sat on the swimming pool patio area again for another night of Cajun music. Tonight’s band was a kind of jazz band. It was good for dancing. Fun!