If you’ve ever been to Louisiana, you may be confused as to how a tiny island in the Caribbean (with practically no fresh water) could become famous for serving up mouthwatering crayfish. The secret to this unlikely success lies in an age-old habit within the region of not being too particular with names.
For instance, many West Indians actually have two names. Take my father. On his Trinidadian birth certificate, his name is clearly designated as being John R. Bennett, yet his family and old friends all call him “Carl.” Turns out, my dad’s mom just liked the sound of Carl better.
The same laid back attitude towards naming also applies to food. Gooseberries in the Caribbean? Not what you’re thinking. We also eat green figs, mountain chicken, and dolphin. But you’d probably know these by their other names: bananas, frogs and fish.
Which brings me to the Scooby Doo style unmasking of the Anguilla crayfish… aka the spotted spiny lobster (Panulirus guttatus)… aka the Guinea chick lobster… aka one delicious lunch! So, no, this isn’t your N’awlins freshwater crawdaddy. This is a very different beast.
Smaller and sweater than the Caribbean staple of regular-old spiny lobster, “crayfish” can be found adorning menus all across the tiny island of Anguilla — from the most high-end establishments all the way down to the roadside BBQ’s and everywhere in between. Locals and the newly converted alike sing their praises as being “soo much better than lobster” and add statements like “I never eat lobster anymore, only crayfish!”
Shhh, don’t tell them they’ve been eating lobster all along!
Unfortunately, for the crayfish population, there’s no designated season for pulling these treats from the waters surrounding Anguilla, but fortunately for you, they can be enjoyed whenever you happen to find yourself on-island.
Some restaurants in more touristy areas have been known to charge up to $45 US dollars a plate for this speckled spiny species, though, so you’re best bet to get this taste of the Caribbean is to go local.
Try On Da Rocks just past Scilly Cay in the northeast on Saturday. Not only will you be able to enjoy your
spotted spiny lobster crayfish in pleasant picturesque surroundings, but a lunch plate will only set you back $5!
Just tell Tim Uncommon Caribbean sent ya.