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Drowning in Crawfish

4 Jun

We hosted a memorial day crawfish (crayfish?  i’m going with crawfish, but go crazy if you need to) boil.  I had not had crawfish for a very long time and figured it was a good time to eat some.  (figured is a southern term for “I thought it was a good idea” just like “fixin to” means getting ready or going to do something)  Anyway, I called up some friends with New Orleans ties and surfed some sites for info on getting crawfish.  The local fishmongers all said the same thing, that gas prices where to high to justify running small batches of crawfish.  I decided on LACrawfish Company. (check the spelling!)  I did some more research on appropriate quantities for a party and got all sorts of conflicting reports from 2 lb per person to 7 lb per person.  My wife and I came up with a list of people to invite and I ordered 50 lb of crawfish, as looking at the website it looks like one big sack of crawfish.  I ordered early in the week with saturday delivery, airport pickup was cheaper so I went with that.   I had to have them delivered on Saturday as FedEx wouldn’t be available on Sunday or Monday (Memorial Day).  Turns out that airport pickup means at the FedEx facility that is 5 minutes from my house so bonus!  I drove down Saturday 9:30 am and strolled into the facility.  Once I told them what I was picking up they mentioned the “huge seafood package.”  They wheeled out the foam casket that was my shipment and let me use the dolly to get into the car.   I brought the casket home and opened it up to reveal two large sacks of very pissed off crawfish.

Angry Crawfish
Crawfish

Angry Crawfish

Healthy and Alive, and yes angry.  From this point on It was a matter of keeping them alive till Memorial day.  I put each sack in it’s own cooler, (I left one sack in the original foam casket) and rotated ice and cold packs for the next two days.  I panicked a couple of times as the crawfish where silent when the cooler was opened, but upon stimulating then (easy now… just poking them a bit… seriously grow up) they sprang to activity, apparently just too cold.  We had several cancellations for the party as the date approached and it became clear (to my wife) that we where going to have too much food.  I had bought some sausages from Belmont Butchery which I had planned on grilling with some clams, but as I prepared to go out the door to the seafood shop for clams my wife stoped me cold and pretty much kiboshed the idea of more food.  I admit I was a bit put out, but begrudgingly agreed to not have more food.  (Grilled clams and sausage is going to happen this summer at some point though)  Monday came around and what do you know, hottest day in the new summer, I think it got up to 98 deg Farenheit.  I went out and cleaned up the pool and grill area, gathered wood to, of all hairbrained things, light a fire.  I planned to cook the crawfish in my Cowboy Cauldron.   I rinsed and flushed the mud out of the crawfish.

I cleaned and chopped some corn.

Once I got the fire going beneath the cauldron I noticed I wasn’t feeling so great.  I had breakfast but not lunch as the party was schedulled to begin at 3 pm.  I went in and told my wife I was a dehydrated, my daughter made me drink some water and some electrolyte water (smart water and gatorade), and I started to feel a bit better.  People started to arrive and I fired up the grill and two extra pots of water to boil the crawfish.  I divided the potato, corn, andoui sausage and seasoning amongst the three cooking areas, cauldron and grill.  I also made some spicy dip from a jar of rocotto pepper puree, queso fresco and lime, all pureed in a blender.  Went great with the potato and the crawfish tails.

And ran back and forth between the crawfish, cauldron and grill… with occasional dips in the pool.  I nearly burned the grilling sausage,  as I tried to keep an eye on multiple cooking sites, and then really began to feel poorly.  I was drinking water and my daughter asked me why the water was shaking… I couldn’t stop trembling… I doubled up on the water intake and took a break in the pool.  My wife worriedly looked me over and asked me if I was OK.  I probably wasn’t but I didn’t want to disappoint the guests.  Who by the way where devouring crawfish.  I had a pair of leather gloves on so I could scoop the bastards into a colander and the into the boiling seasoned water.  I stayed away from the beer and alcohol and tried to stay alive as I continued to cook… it soon became apparent to me that 50lb of crawfish is a shitload of mudbugs, there was no way in hell that 1. I could cook all of them in one afternoon, 2. that they would all be eaten in one afternoon with the number of people present. and  3. this shit might kill me.

I decided to stop cooking, get away from heat sources and spent the remainder of the gig, eating crawfish in the pool.  I had to rally to cleanup,  feeling rather shaky I didn’t chase the escaping crawfish in the yard… maybe they have set up a renegade clan in our creek.  I put away a ton of crawfish to clean and reserve for another day, along with leftover potato and corn.

This is the first time I felt that my health was in jeopardy from prepping for a party, despite that the gig went great (probably with the exception of my wife saying “if you go down who is going to pick you up?”  Despite the risk on life and limb,  we are considering doing it again next year just with half the amount of crawfish and hopefully less heat.