I was taught the proper way to eat crawfish at the annual San Luis Pass Cinco de Mayo getogether with about 30 of my good friends.
My crawfish eating etiquette teacher was an authentic Louisianian, Susan. Susan drives across Texas on several occasions with her dog Beau, throughout the year, to convene with a local buggy rider group called the SLPBR, San Luis Pass Buggy Riders.
What’s a buggy rider?
You can check out some buggy feats of the impossible and the easy by visiting www.deadbirdbuggybash.com.
We gathered on the beach for a shrimp and crawfish boil that was pure Southern heaven spread on a table. The boil was seasoned and prepared by our resident chefs Terry and Duffy. I won’t give away all their culinary secrets even though they’ll tell you anything you want to know, but I will tell you they use a little something called Swamp Dust that adds a whole lot of good flavor to this recipe. It had corn on the cob, potatoes, whole heads of garlic, onions and artichokes in addition to crawfish and shrimp. Yum! People brought sides like Janis’s famous crab dip and pasta salad with sausage, watermelon, cookies and pastries.
Here’s how you eat a crawfish and other very important details you should really know before you start chowing down…
The first most important detail a novice must know is “never eat the dead crawfish”!! I know what you’re thinking…they’re all dead once they’re boiled. Yes, that is true, however there are two kinds of dead when it comes to the crawfish. Good Dead is if the crawfish was clinging to the bag with all his might to keep from taking the plunge into a steaming pot of spices. Bad Dead is the crawfish taking a dirt nap before the bag even leaves the cooler.
So how do you tell which ones were dead before they got cooked and got dumped into the cooking pot by accident? Easy peasy…when a live crawfish gets cooked his tail curls under. A Bad Dead cooked crawfish is stick straight, not curled. Got it?
Choose your first crawfish. Hold the head with your right fingers while twisting the body ever so gently with your other hand. If you’re so inclined hold the open end of the now loose head in your mouth and then squeeze and suck. Some people also use their fingernail to scoop out the yellow crawfish butter. I tried the head-suck technique and didn’t see the thrill, but hey, that’s just me.
Now take the body, which is still covered with a hard shell, and pinch it. This cracks and loosens the shell from the meat inside and makes it easy to peel off. Then pinch the flipper portion of the tail and pull to release the whole body and, if you’re lucky, the back vein will pull away too. If not, eat the vein. It won’t kill you. It might even put a lil hair on your chest.
If the crawfish had particularly large claws you can also crack these with your teeth and suck the meat out. I tried a couple, not bad. Think dungeoness crab claws from Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.
The entire crawfish boil is consumed by spreading newspaper on your picnic table and dumping the drained boil down the middle. The entire meal is consumed with your hands. Alternate eating the crawfish with a tasty squeeze from one of the boiled garlic heads or by dragging an artichoke leaf across your bottom teeth.
It’s all good!
Thank you for giving me the lifelong joy of eating crawfish Susan. We’ll be seeing you and Beau on the beach again real soon!!