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How To Eat Crawfish
~ those dee-licious mudbugs! ~

by Beth Boswell Jacks

One of the most frequently asked questions at Google, AOL and Yahoo directing visitors to this USADEEPSOUTH.com website is this one: How do you eat crawfish?

Well, helloooo. Is it rocket science? Yep, almost.

A crawfish (crayfish, mudbug?) is actually a most peculiar crustacean that requires diners to have special eating and cooking skills. Since this article is written in the midst of spring as were entering peak crawfish season, Ill give readers info on the subject (with help from my friends).

USADEEPSOUTH contributor Mary Cheatham, a Louisiana resident and well-known cookbook author (Flavored With Love), offers this expert advice:

Heres the easy way to eat them. First, break off the head and discard it. After you snap the head off, place your thumb on the ejection button near the tail of the crawfish on the underside and mash firmly to break the meat loose. With the shell still partially intact, bring the tail meat to your mouth and sink your teeth into the exposed meat. Chomp down, and it will pop into your mouth as you leave the tail behind.

There are other experts who say were not authentic crawfish eaters if we dont first suck the spicy juice out of the head. I prefer Cheathams advice  break off the head and pitch it. If you love to suck the heads, dont tell me.

Once harvested from shallow ponds and swampy areas in the Deep South, crawfish now are often farmed in ponds that are drained and replanted in the summer, flooded once more in the fall and winter, and then harvested in the spring. The peak season typically runs from March through June-ish. With current pond farming, crawfish are available pretty much year round, but spring crawfish are best.

And how does one prepare this delicacy? Two of the best cooks I know, Billie Towles and Lonnye Sue Pearson, sent me the following comments.

From Billie: Well, now - there really isn't a recipe on how to cook crawfish. The cooking takes several steps and its more of a social event  the cooking as well as the eating. It isn't feasible to cook a small amount and its done primarily outside. The crawfish we purchase comes in 40 lb bags, and the amount of potatoes, corn, sausage and onions we add depends on how many people will be eating. We use plywood with two holes cut out to set over two 55 gallon drums to dispose of the shells as we eat. Everyone stands around the tables. A good, cold drink is a necessity.

Before cooking, you must purge the crawfish  soak them in salt water to clean and then rinse well. A very large pot is required. Season the water with crab boil, spices, onions and lemons. Bring the water to a rolling boil. Pour in the live crawfish, cook for 10-15 minutes and then pour into a very clean ice chest and season with Tony's Creole Seasoning to taste. Some people like mild and others think the hotter the better. Close the lid on the chest and let the crawfish steam at least 30 minutes before eating. Cook the corn, sausage and potatoes in the same water but separately from the crawfish.

You don't want very large crawfish; they will be tough. The small crawfish are too hard to eat. Go medium. You do NOT cook a dead crawfish and you do NOT eat a straight tail crawfish. Frozen, cooked and peeled crawfish tails are available in the grocery store. We sometimes purchase that, batter and fry them and serve with cocktail sauce as an appetizer.

Lonnye Sue agreed with Billie about cooking methods and added this: When I lived in Natchez, we caught our own crawfish. We'd run a truck or Jeep along the river or creek and spotlight them with headlights or a flashlight out the window. Those suckers would come crawling out of a ditch on one side of the road and try to cross right in front of us to get to the other side. They never made it.

Thanks to Mary, Billie and Lonnye Sue for writing this column for me. Im off on a little vacation. Wonder if they have crawfish in Puerto Vallarta?



For more SNIPPETS stories, read these:
Ava's Story
Dancing the Weight Away
A Towel Piece ~ A Tribute
Spring Cleaning ~ Here We Go 'Round In Circles
Conquering the Wild Blue Yonder
Trail rides, cantles and beans...Hellooo, Mama!
Ben Skelton: Peace Corps Volunteer
Smiles, Not Fists...
Dance ~ the Soul's Hidden Language
Class Reunion Advice
Searching for the Inner Animal
It Was a Dark and Stormy... you know
Granny Does the Shoshone
Forget Your Troubles ~ C'mon, Get Older!
Thanksgiving Humor - Granny's Confession

For stories at USADS by columnist Beth Boswell Jacks, click here: SNIPPETS
And find even more here: MORE SNIPPETS

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