Thursday, May 6, 2010
Shellfish and I have a love-hate relationship. I love them, they hate me. Let me elaborate. I love crab, shrimp, lobster, clams and oysters but I have gotten sick from eating them enough times to realize I pissed off a shellfish god somewhere along the way. A few years ago, the hubster and I went to Thailand. Two words, shellfish mecca. Most restaurants have a giant spread of shellfish on ice, you point to what you want, the kindly gentleman weighs it, cooks it, and hands you your prize. Sounds ideal, right? Not so much when you eat a bad shrimp, it triggers some crazy allergic reaction causing you to look like a red, bumpy alien, and you have to wear a bathing suit to go snorkeling the next day. I tried to tell myself the kids on the boat weren't laughing at me, they were laughing with me but that was hard to do with all their pointing and snickering. Damn kids!
Months later, I'm telling a doctor friend this story and she says, "You realize allergic reactions of that nature are really serious because *insert medical gobbledy gook here.*" Awesome, just awesome. During this entire episode, the hubster is walking around, Foghorn Leghorn chest puffed, talking about how he can eat anything and not get sick. Enter Australia where the hubster eats a Moreton Bay Bug and lands in the emergency room, on a morphine drip, puking all night.
The average person would learn from these experiences and stay away from shellfish. This mythical average person would not exclaim, "Oh, hell yeah" when invited to a crawfish boil. And that's how yours truly (hubster in tow) found herself at a crawfish boil one fine Saturday afternoon.
Crawfish boil 101: The crawfish are kept alive and kicking in a giant metal tub filled with water.
Come cooking time, they get dumped into a Hansel and Gretal sized stock pot, filled with water seasoned with extra spicy seafood boil seasoning. Corn and potatoes are thrown in to the pot because...um, I don't know. I'm pretty carnivorous and I avoided the veggies so I really can't tell you why they were there. All the while, people gather around a long table that is truly a work of art. In the middle is a giant square box for the crawfish. On each side of the box is a circular hole with a garbage can underneath. The instructions are simple. Grab a pile of crawfish from the giant box in the middle. Pop head off of crawfish, drop in homemade trash chute, peel tail, eat. Easy, right? Not so much.
If you've never had crawfish, you should know they are some weird looking buggers (aptly nicknamed mudbugs). If you have had crawfish before, you know they are a LOT of work for very little meat. Our fabulous hosts (and all of their guests) thought it charming (or weird) that we had never had crawfish and they kindly guided us through the cracking process. When the going got particularly tough, they took pity on us and cracked the crawfish for us (and I shamelessly gobbled). There was something wonderfully communal about different people, standing side-by-side under the sun, cracking crawfish, eating, chatting, and most importantly, enjoying the company of friends and family.
In all fairness, I should mention that the boil featured tons more food besides crawfish. Fried catfish, fried oysters, french fries, tater tots, and hushpuppies. Plus, all the guests brought a fabulous side dish to share. Then came dessert. Don't even get me started- brownies, cookies, cakes, and pies, oh my! Whoever said South Asians have lots of food at parties clearly didn't know Southerners. The hubster and I were blown away by the graciousness of our hosts and the deliciousness of the food . Plus, I didn't wake up covered in an ever so attractive rash. But let's be real, even if I had, crawfish would've still been an awesome food adventure!
Labels: food adventures