Each year, one of the shindigs I most look forward to is the annual crawfish boil my friends Tony and Gus Magann throw at Tony’s house in Emigration Canyon. I have to admit, though, it took me a while to get up to speed. The first crawfish boil I ever attended was at my buddy Jamie’s place in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Frankly, the idea of sucking the juice from a crawfish head held little appeal. but, “when in France” … or, at least, the French Quarter.
I’ve always thought it must have been one very hungry sumbitch who ate the first crab or lobster. The same is true of crawfish. Why in the world would you want to put that in your mouth? Well, because—as I eventually learned—the crawfish’s tail is one of the most rich, luscious taste treats ever.
You can buy precooked, vacuum-packed crawfish tails at certain food markets. I use them for making crawfish etouffee. But for an authentic crawfish boil—Louisiana Bayou-style—you’ll want fresh, live crawfish, and lots of ’em. Two good online (or by phone) sources are The Cajun Grocer and Louisiana Crawfish Company. At Louisiana Crawfish Co., for example, you can order crawfish party packs which run anywhere from 10 pounds. ($49.95, including overnight FedEx shipping) to 90 pounds. ($324.95) and include the crawfish, seafood seasoning, Creole seasoning, bibs and even Mardi Gras beads.
But a crawfish boil is about more than just crawfish. Typically, the crawfish are boiled in a big pot of seasoned water along with corn on the cob, new potatoes and optional ingredients such as baby artichokes, onions, mushrooms or Cajun sausage.
Crawfish eating isn’t for the squeamish, but is definitely addicting: Just squeeze the tail to get the meat out and then suck the head to enjoy all those spicy juices. Laissez les bon temps rouler!