Some time ago I asked my Grand Uncle Dominique, who was the first Cajun to eat écrevisses ( a crayfish)? He told me this story and it make sense to me.
‘Grand Uncle, who was that who ate the first crawfish?’
Well Nephew I once asked dat same question of my Grand Pere Jean who was your Great Grand Pere. He told me when he first settled here on da Bayou he had to fish and trap to feed his family. Being from another place with different critters he set out early one morning to make a scoop net to see what critters were found in the Bayou and Marsh. As he walked along the Bayou toward the Marsh he scooped into the water. With each net he laid all the things he found onto the bank. As he got farther into the Marsh he thought he heard some whispering, but continued to scoop things
up out of the water. Along with petits poissons (small fish), he found petite crevette (small shrimp), and petite langoustine (small lobster).
From where he was raised all these critters were larger and a person could eat them. He decided to try and use each one as bait to see if he could catch bigger fish. As he reached on the ground to pick up the very small crayfish he still heard whispering so he picked up the one that made a sound. To his amazement it had a woman’s head and in a small voice said
‘Monsieur please do not harm me. If you do as I ask I will help you find all the bait you need for the winter fishing and in spring a delicious écrevisses to eat.’
Startled Grand Pere Jean could not speak at first, but then he agreed not to harm this small part crayfish part woman. As he placed her near the Bayou she gave him directions to an area in the marsh where the crayfish were as large as a large thumb.
She told him in winter they would be small and can be used as bait for larger fish but by spring they would be large enough to boil in spicy water and eat so he and his family would never be without food all year long.
This Nephew is the story I was told as a child by a man who lived both here along the Bayou and in Nova Scotia where crayfish are as large as a mans arm. And still today our family can have a feast of these small crayfish in the spring thanks to the directions of the Cajun Mermaid and the waters of the Marsh.
Be sure to protect the Marsh where we get most of our food and take care of the Cajun Mermaid as was promised years ago……