Station 3 - English
Delicacies from the Brook Station
From the cooking pot to the Red List of endangered species
Formerly, the noble crayfish and probably also the smaller stone crayfish were widely distributed in the Eifel. Valued as tasty edible animals, for centuries they were caught and traded in huge quantities. The supply in brooks and rivers seemed inexhaustible.
Due to human impacts on the aquatic environment, but particularly through the introduction of a fatal infectious disease, noble and stone crayfish have now become extremely rare. It is hoped that the restoration to their natural state of flowing bodies of water in the National Park will mean that at least the noble crayfish will be able to survive here in the long term.
Crayfish catching lore
It depends on the bait, one would think, from perusing the countless tricks that have been passed down about catching crayfish. As a lure, some crayfish catchers used freshly skinned frogs sprinkled with henbane oil, or fish intestines roasted in honey, while others swore by beef liver, whiting or salami.
Those who preferred not to catch the animals with their hands used various traps or, as was common in the Eifel, simply bunches of brambles tied together, in which the crayfish with their claws were caught.
A rumour still persisted 150 years ago that one could lure freshwater crayfish onto land and thus into the cooking pot by whistling a particular melody.
On the right next to the bar code is a model of a noble crayfish that you can touch.
Further to the right is a button that you can press to hear a recording entitled “Begegnungen mit Edelkrebsen: Eifeler Bürger erinnern sich noch” (Encounters with noble crayfish: Memories of Eifel inhabitants).
Below is a historical text by Johann Georg Krünitz from Die Ökonomische Encyklopädie (The economic encyclopaedia), 1773 to 1885:
The commonest way to boil crayfish
Many consider the best crayfish to be those which remain blackish when boiled, and refer to them as noble crayfish, that are contrasted with ... stone crayfish, which become white or pale red. However, this difference in colour does not result in a different taste, but only means that stone crayfish do not look as decorative on the table.
If you wish to keep the crayfish alive out of water, place them in an empty tub ... in the cellar, and pour beer, not water, onto them each day. If it is desired to fatten them at the same time, each day pour onto them good beer with an egg beaten into it, or sweet milk or, even better, cream; they diligently lick this off and in this way in a few days become particularly tasty. You can also fatten them well ... with sweet cheese or quark, put in front of them in the form of balls.
The commonest way to boil crayfish is this: Put them in cold water in a large cooking pot, sprinkle with salt, and when they are nearly done add chopped parsley, caraway and butter, pour in beer, boil together, then remove the crayfish from the fire, serve, and pour the broth over them.
However it is better if one ... drops them still living into boiling water, or rather pours this over them ...