Hey Neighbor, How Do You Eat These Things?

It’s Lundi Gras, and while I’d rather go to New Orleans any time but Mardi Gras weekend, I do feel a twinge of sadness that I’m not personally enjoying the revelry.  Instead, I’ll write this post about the greatest food (besides chicken wings) ever discovered.  And by discovered, I mean, who the hell was the first person to cook up one of these and eat it?  Crawfish!

It’s that time again.  Crawfish season.  I live for the days where my friends and I spend the afternoon drinking beer and eating crawfish on the back porch.

The Crawdad Hole, Jr. is the best place to get crawfish!  They are clean, spicy, and so freakin’ tasty.  They also have crab legs, shrimp, potatoes, corn, sausage, and boiled peanuts (perhaps another of the greatest foods on Earth).  If you live in the North Mississippi area, you should check them out.  Main Street in Water Valley.

First Day of Business, 2011

So, referencing the title of this post, my husband and I were in Clarksdale, Mississippi for the Juke Joint Festival last April.  *Aside: The Juke Joint Festival is so much fun.  If you love festivals, with festival food, monkeys riding dogs, pig races, and live music, you’ll love the Juke Joint Festival.  I’m not a fan of the Blues, but I put that away for that one weekend in April.*  When we were at the festival, we bought some crawfish to snack on during the afternoon, and a guy asked me, “Hey neighbor, how do you eat these things?”  Let me also say that people from all over the world come to the Juke Joint Festival, most of them not having seen a crawfish in their lives (or at least not one that is ready to eat, unless you’re from China where they have awesome crawfish).  Two years ago, a woman in a “Blues Cruise” t-shirt took photos of my husband and me eating crawfish like we were some sort of circus act.  Since so many people don’t know how to eat a crawfish (or a crawdad), below is a little tutorial.

Here is a glorious specimen:

Crawfish from the Crawdad Hole, Jr. in Water Valley, MS

When you see claws this big, you must eat them too.  But back to actually HOW to eat these little guys.

Step 1: Select a crawfish.  I go for the ones with big claws – they might not be the biggest crawfish, but they have the claw meat!  Yum.  Always pick a crawfish with a curled tail that snaps back.  I’ve always heard that those with straight tails can make you sick.  I have no idea if or why this is true, but I’ve never eaten one and haven’t gotten sick.

Step 2: Tear the tail and head apart.  You’ll see where to do that.

Step 3: Pinch the end of the tail and pull either with your fingers or your mouth.  If they’re cooked right, the tail should just come right out.

Step 4: Eat the tail.

Step 5: Suck the head.  This is something not everyone does, but you should!  There’s good, spicy stuff up in there, and no, it’s not brains.  Do you really think crawfish have large enough brains to be able to eat?  And yes, they’re messy, but that’s part of the fun.  By the way, my model wasn’t super happy about being featured with these messy things, but hey, he grew up eating them and was the most authentic head-sucker.

Step 6: Discard and pick another.

left: carcasses right: whole crawfish

You can also switch steps 4 and 5, your preference.

I’ll leave you with this.  Happy Mardi Gras!  Laissez les bon temps rouler!