Sunday, May 16, 2010

Yankee sensibility shifting

They say you are finally adept at learning a foreign language when you have a dream in the new one.  I haven't had a dream in New Orleanian patois because though there are some people I find hard to understand, like any thriving city, this is a place that attracts newcomers.  I have encountered all sorts of accents and few of them are unintelligible.
That's not true of the fisherman I passed alongside Bayou St. John.  I still don't know what kind of fish he caught.  It was black with blue speckles, a rectangular fish with a tiny, protruding mouth.  I have no idea what he called it though I've mulled it over a few days, but he told me they used to be more common in the past than they are now.  Maybe it was a bream.

I have internalized one local colloquialism without realizing it.  After reading the word so many times, I now think the word "crawfish."  Where I come from, they are called "crayfish" and I hadn't made that verbal shift from ay to aw until the past day or so.  No one eats or sells crayfish where I come from.  They are occasional things you find in backwoods streams if you're inclined to go there.  I saw one once when I was a kid.  I've seen plenty of crawfish and I've eaten a few since I've been in New Orleans.  I call them what they are and it doesn't stick in my craw.

6 comments:

Michael said...

Back in Oklahoma we called those things crawdads. Nefver ate any there -- but did have some while we were in NOLA.

Michelle H. said...

Here in Pa we called them crawfish and crawdads. There was a stream along the border of the neighbor's property and we would wade in and catch them (never ate them) although we were expressly forbidden in playing in the water since a lot of people would run sewage drain-off into creeks. Those are fond memories of the country.

Michelle H. said...

My mistake. I should have said, "we called them 'crayfish.'

Whalehead King said...

They are delicious. I'm not sure why we don't eat them up north unless it's because they are so uncommon and for what you say, Michelle. I'm not clear on their life cycle but I understand that Louisiana corners close to 100% of the commercial crawfish trade....See? I did it again!

We'll see if this sticks when I return to Boston later this week.

Caitlin said...

Ah, see, you left Dorchester, and the crawfish moved in. Or, more specifically, Brothers' Crawfish on Adams, where Belle Cuisine used to be. It's Vietnamese/Cajun fusion, as I understand it. Hope the big easy is treating you well.

Whalehead King said...

Hi Caitlin. I saw that shop before I left, not sure how long it's been there but I think that's the third restaurant in that space in 3 years. Good luck to them. How can they go wrong with a fusion like that!?

Thanks for stopping by.
WK

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