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Some people in Louisiana have a special way of speaking. Cajuns, short for the Acadians, speak a mixture of French and English language. This story is a tall tale about an Afro-Cajun named Michaul, (pronounced MEE-SHAWL) who loves to catch crawfish.

Crawfish may be called crawdads in other parts of the country and they look like tiny lobsters. Louisiana is a tourist state. People vacation in Louisiana often, and folks who visit are called tourists. Tour guides usually tell people about the swamps and they take pictures as they pass by the swamps. There was a time when tourists didn’t visit the swamps and here’s the reason why. Michaul lives in the swamps.

Come on! Climb inside my pirogue! We’re going to a party! Down in south Louisiana we sometimes call a boat a pirogue! Most folks outside of Louisiana don’t go to the swamps. There’s a reason you know! We tell tourists all the time, don’t go to the swamps unless you’re with a tour guide. But you can come along with me. You will be safe and sound.

We are going to go to Michaul’s house deep in the heart of the Louisiana swamps. Nothing will happen--I promise you! We’ve got lots of Alligators in our swamps. But it’s not the alligators you have to worry about!

Louisiana mosquitoes are like vampires and they will suck your blood, but you don’t have to worry about the mosquitoes either. Just rub yourself good with some insect repellant to keep those varmints off you!

Let me tell you what you have to worry about. Everybody put your paddles in the water and row. I’ll tell you a story about these swamps, you have never heard. While we’re rowing our pirogue over to Michaul’s house, I’ll tell you all about Michaul and his crawfish! Michaul knows how to have a good party! You just keep right on rowing your paddles. We have to get to the swamp party and we don’t want to be late!

Early in the morning, before the sun is awake, Michaul goes into the swamps looking for crawfish. He loves crawfishing more than anything in the world. Sometimes he finds a snake! Snakes taste all right, but Michaul is looking for crawfish!

Most times he finds fish. Fish are okay, but crawfish are much better! Sometimes he finds an old shoe. Ugh! Shoes don’t taste good at all! Everyday, he’s out in the swamps looking for crawfish. And he finds them too!

One, two, ten, twenty-six, fifty-nine, eighty-eight, one-hundred and four crawfish he counts this time. By the time the sun has opened its eyes, Michaul is finished collecting crawfish. He puts them in a sack, hoists that sack on his back and hauls them home!

Michaul has to find something to make his crawfish spicy hot! Opening the kitchen cabinet, he roots around until he finds his big black pot. He pulls that pot out of the cabinet and fills it with water until it’s half full and puts it on the stove. Turns the fire on to start it boiling, Michaul drops those crawfish into the pot--all one hundred and four!

Grabbing the bottle of black pepper from the kitchen table, he sprinkles the black pepper all over those crawfish scurrying in the pot. Those crawfish are surprised and start to sneeze!

“A-choo, A-choo, A-choo.”

Michaul says, “Those crawfish can sneeze if they want to, but they’re still going to taste good!” He rubs his stomach thinking how good they’re going to taste.

Taking the big black spoon from the kitchen drawer, he stirs those crawfish.

He stirs it up! He stirs it down! He stirs it all around! Those crawfish are spinning around in that pot. They are all jumbled and can’t find a way to climb out of that pot! The minute they try to climb out, they slide back down into the pot. Michaul laughs and begins to sing:


When it’s mixed up good, Michaul dips his finger into the pot of crawfish and tastes it.

Those crawfish try to snap their claws at Michaul fingers. Michaul snatches his fingers out just in time. He licks his finger tasting the crawfish boil and says:


Michaul looks around his kitchen for something spicier to make his crawfish taste just right. Searching the bottom cabinet for something spicy hot, there behind two cans of tomato sauce, he spies the red cayenne pepper! “Yum-um,” Michaul licked his lips!

He thinks this will make it spicy enough! He unscrews the top on the cayenne pepper and sprinkles the cayenne pepper into the pot of crawfish. Those crawfish are swimming around and around! They swim down to the bottom of the pot, because they don’t want to get any cayenne pepper in their eyes!

Michaul says, “They can swim down to the bottom of the pot if they want to, they’re still going to taste good!” He licks his lips again and thinks about how delicious those crawfish are going to taste!

He picks up his big black spoon and stirs those crawfish briskly with one hand, while using the other to rub his stomach.

He stirs it up! He stirs it down! He stirs it all around! Those crawfish were spinning around in that pot. Michaul starts singing:


When it’s mixed up good, Michaul dips his finger into the pot of crawfish and tastes it.

Those crawfish try to snap at his fingers! They almost get him too. He tastes that delicious flavor on his finger but something is still missing! He says:


Michaul looks around his kitchen for something spicier to make his crawfish taste just right. While searching the cabinet over the stove for something spicy hot, he finds two bottles of hot sauce--a red one and a green one!

He unscrewed the tops on both bottles. Then he shook it in the pot! Michaul is having so much fun thinking about how good those crawfish are going to taste, he starts dancing and singing:


Those crawfish see Michaul dancing and they start dancing too! But my, oh, my, the sauce is too hot for those crawfish, so they dance even faster!

Michaul keeps on pouring and singing:

“Shake it up baby, Twist and shout!
Come on, come on, baby, Shake it on out!”

Michaul picks up his big black spoon and stirs and sings and dances some more.

Pretty soon, he dips his finger in to taste. He tastes those crawfish, but something is still missing. Michaul says:


He starts looking around his kitchen for something spicier to put in his crawfish boil.

After searching all the top cabinets and all the bottom cabinets too, he found nothing. That’s when he had an idea. He remembered, his neighbor, Boudreaux went to Texas last week and brought back some jalapeno peppers. Boudreaux had given him a bag full. Those jalapeno peppers were spicy hot! Maybe he could add those peppers to the crawfish boil!

That would spice them up, he thought! He found the bag on the kitchen counter, just where his friend Boudreaux had left them.

Michaul poured those jalapeno peppers out of the bag and onto the kitchen counter. He sliced them into little round circles. They looked just like the jalapeno peppers you might find on a dish of nacho chips covered with cheese.

Sprinkling those jalapeno peppers into the pot, Michaul watched as those crawfish started to parade around the pot! He couldn’t believe his eyes!

Those crawfish must have thought they were at a Mardi Gras parade because they were because they were clapping their claws together and reaching up trying to get those peppers. You should have heard those crawfish cry:

“Throw me something mister!
Throw me something mister!”

Michaul said, “They want me to throw them something? I’m going to throw them something!

Michaul kept right on throwing those jalapeno peppers into the pot. Each time those crawfish would lunge for the peppers and put them around their heads. They looked so cute with their little jalapeno necklaces around their little bitty necks. Michaul had to laugh. He had never seen anything quite like that before!

He took out some onions,

some corn,
some smoke sausage,
some red potatoes,
some salt,
some lemons,
some celery,
some garlic,
some turkey necks,
some shrimps,
and some crabs.

He threw everything into the pot with those crawfish!

Those crawfish were so crowded; they could hardly move around.

Michaul said, “They can look cute if they want to, they are going to taste some good! He licked his lips, picked up his big black spoon and started to sing and stir! He sang:


Still stirring the pot, Michaul dipped his finger into the pot and tasted it. Those crawfish were having a hard time swimming around, but they still tried to snap Michaul’s fingers!

He drew his fingers out the pot and tasted his fingers. Michaul said:


Then he remembered-- he’d forgotten to put the crawfish boil mix in. That would really spice it up! Crawfish boil mix is what makes a crawfish boil tastes really good! Michaul looked in the top cabinets. He searched the bottom cabinets and found the small bottle of crawfish boil mix on the lower bottom shelf. It had been pushed to the back of the cabinet.

He unscrewed the top and took a big whiff. Oooh-wee! It was spicy and strong! If he poured the whole bottle into the pot, your mouth would burn for sure!

Do you think he should empty the whole bottle into the pot?

You know what that Michaul did?

He poured the whole bottle into the pot! He picked up his spoon and began to stir.

 Michaul began singing:

Uh-oh! Those crawfish were done for sure. They dropped to the bottom of the pot like flies. Michaul stirred those crawfish but they didn’t move. Michaul said:

“Those crawfish must be done now, because they’re not singing and dancing anymore!”

Michaul put down his spoon and decided to taste one of those crawfish.

Reaching into the pot, he grabbed a juicy crawfish. That crawfish was so hot; he could hardly hold it in his hands. Michaul danced with that crawfish, blowing it as he bounced it from hand to hand to quickly cool it off.

Poor Michaul’s hands were burning. He popped that cooled down crawfish into his mouth! He screamed. His mouth was on fire! “Oooooh- weeeeeeeee! Ooochie-aah,” he hollered.

The crawfish was so spicy hot, he ran to the kitchen sink. Turning on the cold water he let it run into his mouth to cool his sore tongue.

But, that crawfish was so hot, steam came out of Michaul’s mouth! He ran to the refrigerator, flung open the freezer door and pulled out a icy, cold Coca-Cola with little pieces of ice floating in it and drank it down.

Ahh, his mouth felt much better. Michaul was so proud of himself. He had made the tastiest, spiciest crawfish anyone could want! He reached for another crawfish and he had a fantastic idea.

He would put all those crawfish in a sack and take them down to the side of the road and sell them! Louisiana folks believe in selling everything on the side of the road!

He would make a lot of money too.

He made his way down to the side of the road, with a sack full of crawfish on his back. He arranged the crawfish perfectly with their claws sticking up in the air!

Only problem was, nobody was going to buy crawfish so early in the day. He decided to sing and draw a crowd.

In Louisiana, if you sing good and put out a little food to sell, you could have a festival!

Michaul wanted to have a crawfish festival, so he could sell lots of crawfish and make lots of money.

He opened his mouth and belted out his crawfish song:

“I’ve got crawfish for sale--”
I sell’em by the pound!
I’ve got crawfish for sale—
They’re the best you’ve ever found.
I’ve got crawfish for sale—
Come on and get yourself some-
‘Cause baby there won’t hardly be none,
I’ve got crawfish for sale!”

Michaul stopped singing when he saw a movement out of the corner of his eye.

He took one look and nearly fainted !

His heart beat fast: Boom-Boom, Boom-Boom!
His knees begin to knock! Click-clack, Click-clack!
His eyes rolled around in his head!
A bead of sweat popped out on his forehead!

Oh no! It was old Witchy-Watchy, the voodoo queen of the south! Michaul knew, she might cast a spell on him. Turn Michaul into a snake!

Why do you think we have so many snakes in Louisiana?

Sh! Sh! Don’t let anyone hear-- Witchy-Watchy’s the reason. If she doesn’t like you, she’s liable to turn you into a mosquito!

Why do you think we have so many mosquitoes in Louisiana?

Witchy-Watchy! Sh-sh! Don’t want anyone to know about that woman! She went over to Michaul and said:

“Michaul, what you doing out here in these swamps?”

Michaul was too scared to say anything. She squinted her eyes and peered closely at Michaul! Before he could answer, she said, “I know what you’re doing!”

She walked over to where those crawfish were setting out in the sun and picked up a juicy fat crawfish. She pinched the tail of that crawfish and began eating! Uh-oh! Now her mouth was on fire.

She looked at Michaul like she was going to cast a spell on him!

Michaul knew he’d better do something quick, or he might be snake meat tonight!

Lucky for Michaul, he had another one of those icy, cold Coca Colas and he gave it to her to drink. Witchy Watchy gladly drank it straight down.

When she was finished with her Coke, she said, “Michaul you saved my life!”

Michaul was trying to find a place to hide. He just knew she was going to turn him into mosquito!

Surprised, Michaul said, “I did?” He had a funny look on his face like he couldn’t believe it!

Then it dawned on him—“Oh yeah, I sure did.”

Witchy-Watchy said, “Michaul, I’m going to give you one wish. You can have anything you want for saving my life!”

Michaul scratched his head and thought about it. He knew just what to wish for! I think that sun had addled his brains because Michaul said:

“I know, I want to be rich and not have to go searching for crawfish anymore! I want everything I touch to turn to a crawfish! Yes, that’s it.”

Witchy-Watchy opened her arms wide and went over to Michaul. She began to point and sing.

One, Two, Three, make a wish…
Everything he touches…
Turn him into a CrawwwwFISH!”

Just like that, a crawfish touched Michaul! Just like that, he turned into a great big crawfish!

Witchy-Watchy said “Oops, did I say that right? Oh well, who cares, and she picked him up and threw him into the swamps just like that! She gathered those other crawfish together and brought them to her house where she had the biggest crawfish boil you ever want to see!

She invited her mama, her pa-pa, her brothers and sisters, all of her friends, her neighbors, her aunts, her uncles, her cousins, her grandma-ma, her grandpa-pa, her na-nan, her pa-ran, and all their children to her house for a crawfish boil they would never forget.

They went to her house way down in the swamps, but they had to pass by the crawfish Michaul to get there. He didn’t like being a crawfish and he splashed water on all Witchy Watchy’s relatives as they passed by. When the party was over, he splashed swamp water all over them on their way home too.

From that day on like my mama told me always told me...

“Don’t go into the swamps!”

You know why don’t you?

We got lots of alligators, but those gators won’t bother you. We got lots of mosquitoes, but those mosquitoes won’t bother you. Don’t worry about that voodoo queen, Witchy-Watchy, either. She doesn’t bother tourists!

But if you go down to those swamps--
Michaul’s still there--waiting for the tourists who sneak out to the swamps anyway! And you are sure to get wet!

Storyteller: Spinning Tales of Light, Joy, and Love