The soft shell crabs are absolutely gorgeous in New Orleans fish markets right now so when we got wind of a big crab festival an hour east of here in Bay Saint Louis we set sail knowing full well that we would soon be on the business end of a fat, deep fried soft shell crab po boy.
Our Lady Of The Gulf Crab Festival is in its 31st year and the event features 100 vendors of all manners of arts and crafts. If you want a plush, handmade crab-pillow you are in good stead but if you want soft shell crabs you need to keep on looking as this delicacy is nowhere to be found at the party.
Food is scant at Our Lady Of The Gulf. There are a handful of vendors putting out cotton candy, sno cones, hamburgers, hot dogs and the occasional crab dish but the focus is clearly on hand painted sun visors and wood carvings-not food.
We are starving so we immediately vector in on the lone booth selling fried crab claws and they are delicious. Perfectly battered, deep fried and served in a yeoman portion for $12. We ask for a lemon to take them to the next level but none is available in Bay Saint Louis.
We peer over the boiled shrimp, fried catfish and steamed whole crabs before settling on the whole crabs. After purchase it dawns on us that we’ve left our crab hammer back at the house so we trundle the packet to the car and immediately begin hunting for more food.
Sustenance comes in the form of a bowl of gumbo featuring 100 count shrimp floating in a tepid broth with a burnt roux. This soup is d.o.a and in serious need of salt, black pepper, red pepper, green onions, trinity etc. In other words this gumbo cook needs to be flayed alive then tossed into the Gulf of Mexico.
Jambalaya is marginally better but by now we’re stuffed. Bad food fills you up quick. Thankfully we put a rack of ribs on the smoker in the backyard prior to leaving Louisiana and we daydream about them as we race under booming thunderheads back home to our beloved 9th Ward.