Ever since my grade school field trip to the Aquarium of the Americas, I’ve been fascinated by the white alligators they have there. It’s a fascination I share with many of my Cajun brothers and sisters. Such was my own interest, that after the levees broke during Hurricane Katrina, about the fifth thing I thought of (after the really important things of course) was whether or not them white alligators were alright.
You see, alligators are deeply embedded in the Cajun psyche. We glimpse them out of the corner of our eyes while fishing in the basin. At night, we see their glowing eyes reflected back at us when we’re out gigging. There’s an unspoken agreement we have with them: we leave you alone, and you won’t try to eat us.
But don’t Cajun’s eat alligators you ask? Yes and no. I grew up in Cajun country and can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve eaten alligators in my life, and just about every time was at one of our many yearly festivals. Alligator is more something we feed the tourists. It’s a stereotype we play up to, or down to. In my opinion, alligators are a bitch to clean, and they’re not all that great to eat.
Reactions upon seeing the white alligators usually goes something like this: “Keeyaww, did you see ‘dat! Man, I could make some nice white boots with ‘dat. Mais, let’s throw ‘dat ting in a gumbo. Boudreaux, ‘dat crocogator’s prettier than your wife Marie!”
If you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing these fine creatures, take a trip to New Orleans, throw down a few hurricanes down at Pat O’Briens, have a fried shrimp poboy, and head on down to the Aquarium of the Americas. Then go drink some more. Life’s short.