You know, were I to write a dissertation on Louisiana for some reason, I think that would be my title. I'd get to eat crawfish across the state, which would be a pretty sweet benefit, as well.
We were lucky enough to make it to Natchitoches, Louisiana (home of large chunks of the Husbear's family) for Easter this year. As part of the Easter festivities, Husbear's aunt and uncle, Jod-I and Keiff, organized and threw a raucous crawfish boil.
Realizing that this would probably be our last crawfish boil for a couple of years, we had to bring our little camera and do some documenting!
There's a fair amount of preparation that goes into creating a good crawfish boil. The crawfish have to be bought alive, for one thing - in giant mesh sacks holding 35-40 pounds each, usually. They have to be kept alive until it's time to cook them, or they're nasty - hence, the saying "don't eat the dead ones" as you pick through your pile of cooked crawfish trying to decide which ones to munch on. (It's easy to tell which ones were dead before they were cooked - they're the ones with the straight tails.)
The crawfish have to be purged in a succession of salty and fresh water - skip this step, and you're eating lots of mud and crawfish innards. I know that sounds delicious but it's not as good as you'd think.
Then, fill your enormous boiling pot with water (of course!), margarine or butter, throw in a heap of Zatarain's crawfish boil seasoning along with various proprietary herbs and spices and get to it! Zatarain's even publishes their tips on creating a great crawfish boil on their website. (No they're not paying us. Yet. Although any Zatarain's rep can easily and conveniently reach us through our on-site email. Get in early while we still work cheap.)
Now, Husbear, being a vegetarian, likes to gussy things up a little.
Potatoes, corn, onions, and lemon are normally included to represent the vegetable spectrum; each time Husbear and I get to a boil, he likes to add a few different vegetables - partly for experimentation, partly for sustenance. This time, he broke out a lively medley of asparagus, mushrooms, carrots, and artichokes to add to the pot.
Speaking of pots, Keiff just got a new one, which is ginormous! Brandog helped him out by filling it up.
He used it to supplement Old Reliable Crawfish Pot (in the hood the ORCP).
So - veggies cut, crawfish purged, time to cook!
The ORCP showed the new pot the ropes.
People circulated into and out of the house, checking on crawfish and grabbing beers from the ice chest. (Husbear took this time to whip up dippin' sauces - a basil aioli and lemon butter. A nice addition to the requisite and delicious horseradishy cocktail sauce.)
Soon enough, the crawfish and veg were done. They all went into an ice chest to keep them warm. Some people take the opportunity at this juncture to sprinkle some more of the spicy crawfish boil mix over the cooked critters, just to up the heat level.
Get everyone gathered around tables/plywood on sawhorses covered in newspaper, make sure everyone has a cold drink, and dump!
Make sure you get some veggies in there, too, while you're at it.
Now, eat. There's a bit of a trick to getting the tail meat out, but once you go through a few pounds or five practicing and eating, it's pretty easy. And be sure to suck the heads, like you're a real cajun! That's where all the fat and flavor are! (I say this like I participate in that part of the ritual. I usually don't, but I remember at my first boil at Jod-I and Keiff's during college, Tiffany totally took to it like an old pro.)
If you're having trouble, just ask GQ - he'll walk you through it!
Soon, you'll end up with a pile of little crawfish carcasses in front of you, like a tiny trophy hunter.
After an hour, or two, stagger backwards from the table - and you're done. Of course, there's still cleaning to do - but the best way to take care of that is with a large garbage bag. This is why crawfish boils are really an outside only sort of affair. (Unless you're a sissy -L. Pants)
The carnage can be quite extensive, depending on who you're eating with. This little guy tried to make a break for it, but forgot that it's difficult to dash away once you've been boiled.
Since this was not only an Easter crawfish boil, but also a birthday crawfish boil (happy birthday to... lots of people!) there was also Jod-I's wonderful apple cake for dessert. Oh, was this GOOD.
And there you are - you can totally say you've been to a crawfish boil now - you're a seasoned old hand at this.
Thank you of course to Jod-I and Keiff for their hospitality - and for the great birthday bag they got Husbear for our upcoming travels - and for the spiffy arm band and case for my new iPod!
Oh - did I not mention my new iPod? (Like how I worked that in?) I have joined the ranks of the cool and suave, thanks to Husbear's folks! I am now the proud mama of a black iPod nano - which is something I thought I would never be slick enough to own. Unfortunately, now I have to get a whole new wardrobe to live up to the coolness of my new toy. Oh, is it sweet!
That's all you'll hear about the iPod - for now!