Crawfish Boil. If those two words set off the waterworks in your mouth, then you just might be a Cajun. Don’t worry, that’s about as Foxworthy as I’ll ever get on you. I brought up crawfish boil rather than boiled crawfish because while boiled crawfish is a delicious food, a crawfish boil is a grand event. It’s like shootin’ your first deer, going to Mardis Gras, and your wedding day all rolled into one…but even better (but don’t tell my wife I said ‘dat, you). A crawfish boil is an all day affair that combines everything a Cajun loves: outdoors, fire, dead crustaceans, music, and gluttony.
When the guests first arrive, they socialize, munching on snacks, and drink beer. This is a good time to whip up a batch of crawfish dip, a mixture of equal parts ketchup, mayonaise and maybe a dash of seasoning and Tabasco Sauce. Some Cajuns swear by the dip, others are purists, and prefer to enjoy the natural flavor of the crawfish, and the 8 lbs of seasoning they were cooked in. There’s electricity in the air, as everyone anticipates the first glorious batch.
As the first batch of crawfish nears completion, the mood shifts, and people slowly start positioning themselves near the table, like a game of Cajun musical chairs. Sure, they’re still mingling and having a good time, but they’re really only thinking about diving into a pile of Louisiana lobster. Then the moment of truth arrives, and the steaming crawfish are dumped over a big table covered with newspapers, and the chowdown begins. This is a Jeckyll and Hyde moment, where all Cajuns are transformed into fierce crawfish peelin’ and eatin’ machines. Their primal instincts take over and there’s less chit chat, because now it’s time for business.
But don’t think we’re complete savages, even though our lizard brains have been switched on, there are still rules that have to be observed at a crawfish boil. First, it’s considered extremely rude to reach across the table and grab the biggest crawfish, especially when the pile has started to dwindle down. People have been stabbed in the hand with a fork for that offense, and you know what…they deserved it. Secondly, don’t go eatin’ the dead ones (have a Cajun explain that one to you). Do remember not wipe your eyes when you have seasoning on your hands, and feel free to suck the heads (get your mind out of the gutter, couyon!). Lastly try not to fill up on corn and potatoes, it’s a trick to keep you from eating too much crawfish! It’s like filling up on bread at a buffet. Remember, you’re here for one thing, and one thing only, and that’s to gorge yourself on crawfish.
Now that we’ve gone over the basics, you’re ready for your next crawfish boil. Don’t forget to pace yourself, a crawfish boil isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon, and remember to wear ‘dem stretchy pants.