Crayfish are eaten all over the world. Like other edible crustaceans, only a small portion of the body of a crayfish is edible.
The culinary popularity of crayfish swept across mainland China in the late 1990s. Crayfish is generally served with Mala flavour or otherwise plainly steamed whole, to be eaten with a preferred sauce. In Beijing, the ma la flavoured crayfish is shortened to "ma xiao" and is often enjoyed with beer in a hot mid-summer evening.
The Mexican crayfish locally named acocil was a very important nutrition source of the ancient Mexican Aztec culture. Today, crayfish is consumed mainly boiled, similarly to crayfish dishes in other parts of the world, or prepared with typically Mexican sauces and condiments, particularly in central and southern Mexico. Traditional preparations include soups, tacos and "cocktails" shrimp dishes.
In Spain, crayfish used to be widely consumed, but over-fishing and the introduction of non-native crayfish species led to a dramatic decline in crayfish population. Nowadays they remain as a seasonal delicacy, usually stewed in tomato sauce, although fishing the native crayfish is strictly forbidden since the species is nearly extinct.
In the United States, crayfish are often referred to as crawfish or crawdads. In Louisiana, South Mississippi, and Southeast Texas, crayfish are generally served at a gathering known as a crawfish boil. The crayfish are usually boiled live in a large pot with heavy seasoning. There are many differing methods used to season a crawfish boil, and an equal number of opinions on which one is correct.