May 21, 2018
WASHINGTON, DC – Crawfish lovers gathered at the Capitol Hill Club last Wednesday night to savor authentic Louisiana cuisine at “Crawfish on Capitol Hill,” an annual event that promotes Louisiana-style camaraderie and food culture in D.C. The evening of Cajun food, music, and good company was sponsored by the Louisiana Rice Growers Association and USA Rice, and organized by Glen Johnston, managing partner of Presidio Strategic Partners, to honor Roger F. Villere, the longest-serving chairman of the Louisiana state Republican party.
The little red distinguished guests, feistily brandishing their claws, arrived on Capitol Hill after a two-day road trip from Abbeville, Louisiana, where the dinner’s caterers Pro Boil are based. Allen and Erin McLain, the husband-and-wife team behind Pro Boil, have catered similar crawfish events in D.C. before, but this is the first year they’ve worked with “Crawfish on Capitol Hill.”
Louisiana-grown rice featured prominently in the event’s raffle prizes and party favors, as well as the lagniappe appetizer bar, which included gumbo, dirty rice, and red beans and rice. Lagniappe is a creole word that means “extra,” as in a gift or a bonus. “Whatever you’ve got around, throw it in,” said Allen, who is a recent graduate of the USA Rice Leadership Development Program.
What they had around was plump potatoes, tender corn on the cob, savory sausage, and some of the biggest crawfish this town has ever seen, hand-delivered from Louisiana.
Southerners and Louisianans in D.C. look forward to these kinds of crawfish boils, as they are the only place in town to get good, fresh, authentic Cajun food. “At home we can just dump everything out straight onto a table,” said Allen, but at the Capitol Hill Club, etiquette required the freshly boiled crawfish to be served neatly on trays.
That didn’t slow down the guests, though - politicians, restaurateurs, and LSU football fans donned bibs and got cracking.
“This event is a great showcase for U.S. rice,” said Betsy Ward, president and CEO of USA Rice, who attended the dinner alongside other USA Rice staff. “It’s wonderful to see so many people from Louisiana connecting in D.C. over shared culinary history, and rice is an integral part of that cuisine.”
“When thinking of serving the most authentic red beans and rice possible, I knew that I’d have to have Louisiana-grown rice,” Johnston concurred. “I’m originally from Louisiana but now live in the Washington, D.C. area. Even at home, I get Louisiana rice shipped to me. There is a specific taste and quality to it, and it matches the coffee and chicory in my kitchen cabinets.”
Other attendees of the crawfish boil included Congressman Clay Higgins (R-LA), and celebrity chef David Guas, host of the television show American Grilled and the owner of Bayou Bakery, a New Orleans-inspired restaurant in Arlington, Virginia.