Crawfish Boil. Â And to you Yankee readers that second word is pronounced BAW-IHL. Â I was born and raised in the Deep South, but have moved around enough that I now say I’m going to get the oil (o-ee-ul) changed in my car. Â But when you are cooking up crawfish, it’s just sacrilege to “boil” (bo-ee-ul). Â You just have to say “boil” (baw-ihl). Â There’s just no way around it.
This Saturday we went to the Charlotte Ole Miss Alumni Association’s annual Crawfish Boil. Â For we expat Mississippians this is a MUCH anticipated event. Â But my Carolina friends…well, they just don’t seem to get it. Â This is the 4th Annual Crawfish Boil for our alumni club and every year I have to explain this event to my friends. Â It always goes a little something like this:
Them:Â â€œSo what are you doing this weekend?â€
Me:Â â€œGoing to an Ole Miss Alumni Crawfish Boil!Â Woo-hoo!â€
Them: â€œA what?â€
Me: â€œA crawfish boil.â€
Them: â€œHuh?Â A what?â€
Me:Â (You must hear me saying this sarcastically slow and loud, taking care to sound out each syllable) â€œA C-R-A-W-F-I-S-H B-O-I-L…â€
Them: â€œWhat does that mean?â€
Me: (again, sarcastically) â€œWell…you take some crawfish…and you boil â€˜em…then you eat â€˜em…and you drink a few beers along the way.Â You know, a CRAWFISH BOIL.â€
Them:Â â€œWhatâ€™s a crawfish?â€
Me: â€œExcuse me…Crawfish, crayfish, crawdads, mud bugs, Cajun caviar…none of this rings a bell?â€
Them: â€œNope.Â Never heard of it.Â What exactly is a crawfish?â€
Me:Â â€œWell, they look like miniature lobsters….â€
The concept is quite simple, really. Â You take a whole bunch of crawfish (if you live anywhere outside of MS or LA, you FebEx them in from New Orleans the night before your event)…
You put them in a big ol’ pot with potatoes, onions, sausage, corn and mushrooms
with the appropriate seasoning, of course,
and boil them until they turn bright red and all their little tails curl. Â Then you dump them all out in the middle of a big table
and get cracking! Â Cracking open the tails, that is…
And if you are really Cajun, you suck the head. Â Personally, that’sÂ part of the crawfish boil experience that Iâ€™ve never been able to psyche myself up for. Â But, to each his own, right?
Our club dumps theÂ onto a long table with a hole cut in each end, underneath which there are garbage cans.Â Everybody stands around the table pinching off the heads, cracking open the tails, and chunking the shells and left overs into the garbage cans.
Of course, you have to rinse all this spicy goodness down with an ice cold beer. Â I’ll let BG tell you about our chosen brews later.
We all stand around the big tables pinching, cracking, sucking, chunking, and rinsing until the table looks like this
Now I know to the outsider this may seem to be…well, what is the word Iâ€™m looking for here…DISGUSTING. Â Sure, pulling somethingâ€™s head and exoskeleton off before you eat it may be a little unsettling to some. Â But I’m telling you, people. That’s good eating! Â It’s a Deep South delicacy. They don’t call it Cajun Caviar for nothing! Â And you haven’t tried it, you are missing out.
One word of advice, though. Â Don’t bother getting a manicure before you go!
Hotty Toddy, y’all!