I'll never complain about cracking crab legs again. My love for crab knows no bounds, but once in awhile one can tire of the constant work, cracking and pulling and scraping meat from inside the salty red shells. But at least you are occasionally rewarded with large pieces of succulent crab flesh. Not so much with crayfish, but there's still so much to enjoy.
Doug and his friends threw their annual crayfish boil this weekend, using crustaceans from Oregon (I know you were wondering if they were from the Gulf - nope) combined with corn, onions, potatoes, garlic, Andouille sausage and shrimp, and seasoned with Zatarains spices. A giant metal pot of liquid bubbled and foamed and roiled on a propane-fueled fire while the guys dumped pound after pound of live green-gray crayfish into the spicy water, where they quickly turned bright red and shortly thereafter, delicious. When done, the seafood and vegetables were strained out of the broth and turned out onto a newspaper-covered table top in the backyard where someone then liberally powdered the food with a Creole seasoning. Then the hordes descended, grabbing crayfish that looked exactly like tiny lobsters, and twisting the tails from the bodies. They broke the tail shell and extracted the meat, a delicious small chunk of soft meat that mimicked the flavor of crab or lobster. Then folks sucked the innards from the body cavity, at least some of them did, and finally broke off the cute little claws and used their teeth to break the claws in half, where, if they were lucky, a perfectly formed claw of meat broke free for the eating.
Alongside the crayfish were boiled potatoes and hunks of corn on the cob, now seasoned with a tasty, hot Creole spice. The whole garlic heads, cut in half, produced perfectly softened garlic cloves that were easily squeezed from their wet paper and were as mild as a beautifully roasted head of garlic. Perfect eaten with otherwise bland potatoes. But the Andouille sausages really brought the heat to the party. Already hot on their own, now dusted with Creole seasoning, the sausages caught our mouths on fire, producing a heat that wasn't easily quenched, but was still really enjoyable. But the best part of the crayfish boil, beyond the delicious food, was the communal style of the party, where everyone stands around a table messily eating various parts of these sea insects, licking their fingers and laughing at the ridiculousness of it all.