USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘secondhand line’
Foodways
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Creole Foodways: Crab Boil

Main Piece: “A big tradition in my family is to have an annual crab boil. So this event is where we all get together and we just celebrate our Creole heritage. And we serve traditional foods like crawfish, shrimp, um crab, corn, and sausage. Um this is another event where my entire family- extended and even family friends- will come to. We have different things that we do that are typical of Creole people, like the second-hand line which is when people will get in a line and sort of dance and walk around like a konga line.”

Background: According to the informant, this event usually happens at the end of July when everyone is more available to come together. The informant notes that the food is “traditional” of Creole dishes- the seafood, vegetables, and meat. She mentions that Louisiana typically has crawfish boils, but her family’s tradition uses more than just crawfish. The second-hand line is a celebration that usually culminates the event. The informant describes it as a type of line dance without real structure. She says people throw and wave handkerchiefs during the second-hand line. Unlike other family-specific gatherings, friends of the family are also invited. She says this event is less exclusive, “like a barbecue.”

Performance Context: I sat across the informant at a table outside.

My Thoughts: The unifying component of the crab boil is the traditional Creole foodways. This gathering seems to be rather fluid, finding meaning in it’s gathering of family and friends unlike an exclusively celebrated holiday. The inclusivity of the event allows for adaptation and interpretation. For the informant, the event is a fun time to see family and friends, while eating, dancing, and socializing. The structure of the event itself is also quite fluid. It is centered around the crab boil and ends with the second-hand line, but seems to be mostly about bringing its guests together. The event’s food is “traditionally Creole,” meaning the dishes use different elements of Creole foodways, specifically the seafood (crawfish, shrimp, scallops). Although other cultures certianly utilize crawfish, shrimp, and scallops, Creole foodways have claimed them as important elements in their recipes.

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