On this cool, breezy Wednesday afternoon in Little Rock, The Faded Rose’s co-owner Ed David and his son Zac (co-owner/general manager) station themselves in the depths of the restaurant, prepping crawfish in an open-air basement, a space specifically designed for their weekly boils.
It’s mudbug season.
And Ed knows his way around a crawfish better than anyone in this town. The Louisiana native has been doing boils for more than 60+ years, many of those at his restaurant, which has been a Little Rock mainstay for the past 32.
During this time of year, The Faded Rose serves up boiled crawfish on Wednesdays, starting at 4 p.m. and going until they run out. Ed typically orders 300-500 pounds for the weekly feast, and the process to prepare the crawfish is a methodical labor of love.
It starts on Tuesday when the guys usually receive the delivered shipment. But on this particular week, due to unseasonably cold temperatures and a generally low demand, Ed and Zac must drive down to Ida, LA and pick up several 30-pound sacks of the crawfish. Cold temps or not, The Faded Rose’s customers want their crawfish, and this personal pick-up insures that will happen.
The following morning, Zac cleans all the crawfish, as well as all the pots, pans, coolers and any equipment needed for the day’s work. Next, four monster-sized pots are set atop individual burners and filled with water, chopped garlic and onions and a powdered seasoning mixture. After this simmers for approximately 45 minutes, the garlic and onions are removed and the crawfish are ready their Cajun-spiced water bath. Everything cooks for another 20 minutes. The strong, yet enticing aroma can be detected as far away as the parking lot.
It’s time to sample a few.
Anyone who’s ever eaten a crawfish knows the process of removing the shell can be time-consuming and quite messy. But it’s a lot of fun. The tender tail meat from this batch is deliciously spicy; the heat provides a slow burn which gradually works its way around my taste buds. It’s a nice heat, but certainly not overwhelming.
“I test every pot of crawfish,” says Ed David. “I want to make sure they’re where we want them to be.”
And they are.