A Crawfish Boil (Plus: How To Eat A Crawfish)

June 23, 2011 | By | COMMENTS

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There are two types of people in this world: those who like to work for their food and those who don’t.

People who like to work for their food are often fond of shellfish (cracking lobster claws, picking meat out of crab legs, peeling the shells off shrimp) and these people are often the ones who, when they eat a roasted chicken, identify and devour every last edible morsel. I’m not one of those people.

Which, probably, makes me a bad candidate for a crawfish boil.

And yet, I thoroughly enjoyed the crawfish boil we attended as part of our Louisiana Seafood Adventure. It took place at a bar that’s headquarters for De Pope, a superfan of the New Orleans Saints. Here’s the bar:

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And here’s De Pope with Blake of Blake Makes, who helped organize this whole trip for us (he’s the blurry one):

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A crawfish boil is a social affair; it’s not about primly sitting down at a table with six forks and eight knives awaiting your first course on a silver platter. It’s about getting your hands dirty and hanging out with friends.

It starts with a bunch of live crawfish:

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Here’s Gaby modeling one:

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Then, to their deaths they fall:

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Into a huge pot they go with whole heads of garlic, potatoes, corn, sausage, and all kinds of spices. They boil for a while, until their shells are bright red. Then the fun happens:

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After straining, all the crawfish (and the corn and garlic and potatoes and sausage) are poured on to a large table:

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At that point, everyone grabs a plate and loads it up with food. Here’s Pim with hers:

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Here’s Matt spending some alone time with his:

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And here’s my plate up close:

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So how do you eat a crawfish?

As I was struggling to peel off a tail, and gingerly work out the meat (again: I’m not someone who likes to work for my food) this woman from the bar approached and offered me this valuable lesson, all caught on film:

If you can’t watch the video, let me summarize:

PINCH THE TAIL AND SUCK THE HEAD.

That’s the rule for eating crawfish in Louisiana (or anywhere else for that matter). You get the meat out of the tail and then suck all the good stuff out of the head. It’s a ritual and a good one at that.

Despite all the fun I had here, I still don’t like working for my food (I’ll take the crawfish etouffée, please, where it’s all done for you) but all the camaraderie and bonhomie at a crawfish boil is too good to resist. If you invite me to one, I’ll be sure to come; just don’t tease me for coaxing the meat out slowly. Working for my food just isn’t my thing.

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  • Alicia

    Lol I read this just to see how people outside Louisana see our weird culture lol LOVE IT! Although where I live crawfish boils don’t happen at a bar lol it’s a family and friend affair where kids sit on the ground and we use five gallon buckets for catching the heads lol with a cold beer for most adults of course!