In an apparently ongoing series on eating shellfish, I present to you the Memorial Day Crawfish Feast!
That’s right, we got a coveted invite to a fantastic cajun feast, put on by our once-neighbors, now living in their new digs, but still putting on The Feast, and sweet enough to remember us. Awesome folk, indeed.
But wait! Crawdads? Where the heck did somebody get crawdads? From Louisiana, of course, the childhood home of our lovely Crawfish Feast Host. Two giant coolers of the things, because at The Feast they keep cooking ’em late into the night. It isn’t a Feast if you can’t stuff yourself silly, right?
Of course we had to take a peek in a cooler. Here they sit, sleepy from the cold, innocent of their blighted future….
.. Or maybe not so innocent because when we lifted the lid, one came at us with claws outstretched. Yikes! I’m ashamed to say shrieked like the girl that I am and dropped the cooler lid on his head. I don’t do well under pressure.
Here are Sophie and Luc, pretending to be crawdads. Very lifelike, if you ask me.
While the cooking water was getting hot Our Host soaked the crawfish in salt water, which makes them poop like crazy (the crawfish, not Our Host), which makes them taste oh, so much better. This is called Purging the Bugs. Well, duh, right? Who wants a mouthful of crawdad poop? Not me.
Here are the sacrificial victims, poured from their icy transport and into a giant bucket full of salt water.
Aw. They look so pitiful in there.
Anyway, after 15 minutes in their poop bath spa cleanse, they get dumped into the pot for a slow and miserable death by live boiling. Yeah for us! Bad for the crawfish. We will now have a moment of silence for their suffering.
Okay, moving right along.
In addition to water and crayfish, the pot was full of corn on the cob, lemons, potatoes and this:
Zataraine’s Concentrated Shrimp and Crab Boil! In death defying quantities. That’s the glass bottles. The bags of Seafood Boil were also in use. Basically, as far as I could tell, if it was spicy, they dumped it in. I’m sure there was more to it, but I was having to clean dog poop off Luc’s shoes while they were doing that part, and I missed it. Priorities, right? And how come there is so much poop in this story? Wtf? I promise, from here on out, there will no more mention of poop.
Um, anyway, when Luc and I got back ,the ‘dads were in the pot, the yard filling with this awesome spicy smell.
The waiting was torture! I mean, not as bad as what the crayfish were going through, but still. While we endured, Luc really wanted me to take a picture of this leaf. “It’s heart shaped, Mama,” he said. “I like it.”
He is SO SWEET.
We all kept checking in, “are they ready yet? Are they ready yet?” our eyes huge and our mouths watering. Our gracious host tried one, then another saying, wait for it, wait for it….
Now! Here they are lifting the massive strainer of crawfish out of the hot water.
Ugh! More waiting! This time to let them cool enough so that no one gets burned on the steam when they dump those puppies out. The crowd was in a crawfish frenzy at this point. Pitchforks were mentioned, I’m not sure what for, maybe eating.
All but Luc who said, “Yuck.”
But here they are dumping them out, three tables worth (and that’s just the first batch) with handy trash-cans for the shells taped up in between. Crawdads are MESSY.
Here I go, about to peel one for my very own self.
OMG it was so delicious. Bless Paul who peeled more for me as I chased kiddos, because otherwise I might have only gotten a couple before they were all gobbled by the greedy hoards.
If you take a look, you’ll see that a crayfish is mostly head and claws—a tremendous amount of crawdad is tossed. You only eat the small (in comparison) tail—unless you want to suck the head, which our host did, making his wife, not a Louisiana native, faux-puke. Me too, I have to admit. I mean what’s in there, like, this green slime? No way am I eating that.
One more tip: beware the straight tailed ‘dad! Those died before they were boiled and won’t be good. Eat only the curly tailed ‘dad and you will live long and prosper.
Lots of hooting and screaming commenced, what with the tres spicy food, but soon people were smiling and laughing, a sense of elation filling us—due to the endorphins, I’m sure. I mean, we were giddy. I was told by a regular (they do this every year), that the giddiness only gets more intense as the night wears on. Apparently, they don’t dump the water for the next batch of crayfish, they just add more spices. So, by the third or fourth batch, these critters are reaching nuclear-meltdown spice levels. My informant told me that last year, his cuticles were on fire and he actually had to ice himself as he peeled more and more of the dangerous thing. I asked him why he didn’t stop and he said, “Well, the bugs get spicier but I get drunker, so it kind of evens out.” Well said, my friend!
Sophie, who is a total badass, loved the spicy crawfish. She also discovered a creative new use for the discarded heads. Puppet shows!
Here is Luc, making his crawfish head talk in a little voice. What is it saying? “Don’t eat me, don’t eat me, ARRRGGGG!”
Imagine this macabre scene from the crawfish point of view! We are horrific monsters!
That’s life on top of the food chain….