The Cajun Crawfish of Craighead County


The Cajun Crawfish of Craighead County
The Cajun Crawfish
of Craighead
By Doug White
Photos by Bret Curry
Behold the crayfish – a
freshwater crustacean of
the genera Cambarus and Astacus, re-
sembling a lobster but much smaller. Better
known as crawfish because of some strange
misinterpretation of the Old High German
word, krebiz, meaning “edible crustacean.”
In Arkansas, these delightful red devils are called crawdads. In Louisiana and
other parts, they have many handles including mudbugs, yabbies, freshwater lobsters,
spoondogs, gravediggers and (my personal
favorite) ditchbugs.
Since 2001, Ron and Penny Pigue have
been serving up crawfish to happy customers from near and far. (How far? According
to manager Jahmi Stevens, a couple from
China makes an annual trek to Paragould
just to sample the cuisine.)
“We began with our crawfish farm and
then gradually expanded and began serving
boiled crawfish outside the warehouse in a
screened-in porch,” said Ron. “Then it just
kind of blew up, and here we are serving
lunch and dinner!”
Located on U.S. 412 on the
east side of Paragould, just eight
miles from the Missouri border,
is the world headquarters for the
Delta Crawfish Market, which
supplies wholesale and retail customers with the freshest farmraised seafood, including shrimp,
oysters and crawfish. Next door is
the Cajun Café, a restaurant serv- The staff of Delta Crawfish Market
ing this fresh seafood.
Decorated in an eclectic combination of ened catfish, seafood fettuccini alfredo, CaNew Orleans purple and gold mixed with jun hamburger steak, crawfish etouffee and
Arkansas hunting and fishing mementos, hot and spicy shrimp) to an assortment of
the restaurant is bustling during the lunch fried choices (catfish, shrimp, delta poppers,
hour. Regulars come from northeast Arkan- oysters and gator bites).
Among these choices, two stood out.
sas and southeast Missouri and often dine
crawfish etouffee was quite simply outhere multiple times a week.
among the best we have ever tasted
We tried a bit of everything on our visit,
and the little extras (or as Louisianans call it, in or outside of New Orleans. The hot and
lagniappe) were evident from the start. The spicy shrimp was a real standout as well, usPigues have their own line of seasonings and ing the original Cajun Café boil spices and
sauces, and each table is adorned with hot seasonings.
There are also healthier options, such as
sauce, Cajun seasoning and, on request, their
salads, grilled foods and boiled specialties.
special “fire seasoning.”
The Cajun Sampler is billed as a “real Among the grilled options is a sushi grade
crowd pleaser,” and it did not disap- yellow fin tuna, lightly seared. Other favorpoint. We tried Delta poppers ites include grilled shrimp and catfish. But
(fried crawfish tails), frog legs, there was one lunch entrée that we could not
boudin (a French type of pass by, the Boss Hogg.
The Boss Hogg is a boneless 12-ounce
sausage), mini meat pies
served with remoulade (lunch portion) hand-cut rib-eye steak, seaand Cajun ranch dress- soned with the restaurant’s blackened seaing, and fried dill pickle soning and topped with green onions. Our
spears, our favorite. The medium-rare creation was juicy, and the adhomemade batter did not dition of the seasonings made it all the better.
But what about the mudbugs, you ask?
overpower the appetizers, and
each one was unique, fresh and Of course we had to order the crawfish.
They were in season (early this year, we
We then moved onto the entrees were told), boiled in hot and spicy seasoned
and were faced with a dilemma – water, and after a quick refresher lesson
what to choose? The Cajun Café from Ron on how best to eat them (“ain’t
offers more than 30 lunch entrees, nothin’ to it!”), we tried our best to conranging from Cajun favorites (black- sume the two-pound platter full.
APRIL 2012
One last thing, again in the area of “a
little something extra.” There is a large footpedal operated basin in the middle of the
restaurant. Why? After eating a big helping
of crawfish, and before you partake of the
Cajun Café’s incredible desserts (yummy
bread pudding and a peach cobbler made
from a secret recipe), you probably need to
wash your hands. Stroll on over to the tub
and wash away. It is just another brilliant
touch at this classic restaurant.
Delta Crawfish Market and the Cajun
Café ( are located
at 4660 U.S. 412E just outside of Paragould.
The telephone number is 870-335-2555. The
Delta Crawfish Market is open from 9 a.m.
until 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The
Cajun Café is open for lunch on Tuesday and
Wednesday from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. and on
Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m.
until 9 p.m. The Delta Crawfish Market sells
fresh and frozen seafood, seasonings and even
equipment for your own crawfish boil. If you
can catch Ron, he might give you a few tips!
Want to know more? Find video interviews,
photos, recipes and more at Arkansas Living
on Facebook at:
ArkansasLivingMagazine. Do you have a
restaurant to recommend for Doug? Contact
him at [email protected].•
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