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Crayfish, we often eat them and not even without knowing where they come from and how they are made, if there are many or it is difficult to find. The crayfish, also called freshwater shrimp, is called in the scientific world Austropotamobius pallipes and it has been eaten for centuries, it is nothing new in the food world, quite the opposite! But that's not to say it isn't time to rediscover it, also from a naturalistic point of view and not just gastronomic.
The shrimp-based recipes there is no shortage of rivers, indeed, in Northern Europe they have existed for centuries so many that we risked bringing this animal to disappearance in now distant historical times. To date, from the remains that have arrived there, it seems that the first to use crayfish for food were the ancient Romans, it certainly was widespread in the Middle Ages, a period in which, among other things, to this pet alchemists attributed the ability to keep the secret of transmutation.
The crayfish in Italy, Austropotamobius pallipes, is a subspecies and its name derives from Austro and Potamos. Austro refers to Austria, the area in which it was present, and potamos means 'river'. Pallipes due to the fact that the crayfish is pale compared to its peers who actually have a different color.
In Veneto, crayfish have fed entire generations and are still considered today “Poor, good food, to deceive hunger and not to satisfy it”. If you look closely, they are more like a lobster than a shrimp.
Mostly in the Baltics and Poland the breeding of the crayfish is increasingly growing and valued, the demand is increasing and even the most skeptical are beginning to understand that it is an excellent food, which has nothing to envy to its cousin who swims in salty waters. At retail the price of the crayfish can go from 6 euros to 9, per piece.
The areas where this invertebrate can be found most frequently are those near some Abruzzo streams or around the Bussento basin, in general it prefers some carbonate waters and rich in pebbles and stones.
When breeding crayfish it is necessary to take into account that they are gods nocturnal beings, they are activated at dusk to go hunting while they are under the stones during the day and where there is little light. They also eat animals and the remains of dead animals, occasionally, but their daily diet is mainly based on small insect larvae, small fish and tadpoles.
There are more than 550 species of crayfish classified all over the world to date most of them are not in Italy, but in North America and Australia. Beyond Italy, Europe also does not have many native species, mainly six: Astacus astacus, Astacus leptodactylus, Astacus pachypus, Austropotamobius pallipes, Austropotamobius torrentium and Austropotamobius berndhauseri.
Arriving in Italy, they find themselves in the North, the Austropotamobius pallipes species, in the rest of the territory, the Austropotamobius italicus species, along the Ligurian Apennines, both live in syntopia.
American crayfish can be distinguished from European ones only observing the base of the claws: the former have a small thorn while the others have none.
Among the American crayfish, there is the red one from Louisiana, as an adult decidedly red, sometimes even a brownish color, while when "young" it takes on gray-green tones that make it almost unrecognizable, much more similar to the species common in Italy.
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