Creepy, crawly, and pinchy. I faced my first crawfish boil in Austin, Texas on one breezy spring afternoon. “Don’t wear white”, the Texan warned me.
As soon as we entered our friend’s backyard, the whiff of Cajun spices hit me. I peeked into the tubs of the rather menacing creatures, all 90 lbs of them.
Inside the cauldron, a spicy brew of spices steamed and bubbled. The cook poured some crawfish in, along with corn on the cobs, red potatoes, and onion halves. He let it boil for a while, then turned off the heat and left it to stand for 20 minutes so the flavours could soak through.
When the critters were ready, we lifted the basket out and scattered the contents onto a lined picnic table. With cold beers in hand, we all dove in. Well, some dove in more readily than others. Since this was my first crawfish boil, I watched my friends’ shelling techniques and eating etiquette.
Essentially, I twisted off the head first, then wiggled the tail off with the entrails intact. I pulled off the shells (which are thicker and crunchier than prawn shells), then popped the tail meat in my mouth. The flesh was soft and meaty but since the Cajun spices were so intense, it was hard to taste the crawfish itself.
I consider my tolerance for spice quite high but my lips were throbbing from the burn! After a few gulps of cold beer to extinguish the initial fire, I made my signature move. I wrapped my lips around that head and sucked. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, click here and watch at the 2:38 mark). The flavour was ok but it lacked the fatty gooeyness I was hoping for.
For me, the crawfish boil was about gathering a group of friends, digging in communally, and drinking lots of beer. I couldn’t help but to compare them with B.C. spot prawns and naturally, they were no comparison. There was, surprisingly, a decent amount of meat that made the mess and work worthwhile. . At the least, the mildly sweet meat and didn’t taste dirty like I imagined. I can see this easily becoming an annual tradition.
p.s. Notice the splash-proof windbreaker? It’s messy business!