What’s Cooking: Time for ‘smash mouth’ crawfish _lowres

Photo by Ian McNulty -- Another season is on the horizon.

Saints fans face the dispiriting prospect this week of watching as Denver and Seattle psych up for the Super Bowl. But, if there’s one bright side Saints fans know to look for, it’s cultural consolation, and food is a big part of that salve.

Long before Who Dats learned to expect regular playoff contention, we comforted ourselves with the knowledge that even after a stinging, season-ending loss we still had other seasons on the horizon — Carnival season, festival season and, interlaced with them both, crawfish season.

Beyond the player stats and league standings, the Saints experience for many fans is a matter of coming together to celebrate our city through the season, with style points for all the ritual and creativity we pour into the fanfare. Some of the same energy will be directed to the boiling pot as the festivals, backyard bashes and offhand gatherings shape up through the months ahead.

The boil brings out the best qualities in crawfish, which are not limited to flavor or nutrition. Served in massive quantities, dumped upon a table where friends and strangers stand elbow to elbow and, by necessity, consumed no faster than they can be peeled, it is a social endeavor as much as a meal, one with room for both tribal unity and individual expression. Sound familiar, Saints fans?

The peak of crawfish season normally arrives later in the spring, so right now we’re in something of the training camp period for the crunch time to come. This is when we need to check out our gear if we host boils at home, size up the new and old-favorite suppliers on the roster and maybe dream up some trick plays. Should we add some exotic local produce from the market to the boil this year, or maybe some extra fancy sausage? How about a side pot of boiled vegetables for the vegetarians in your life? It’s time to compare notes, get a plan, start stockpiling your newspapers to line those tables and, most of all, to get excited again.

Compared to the glory that could have been another Saints Super Bowl, maybe the promise of more good eating comes up a little short. But there’s always another season ahead, and when it comes to cold comfort it’s hard to beat hot crawfish. Good luck this weekend, Seattle. You can keep your salmon.