Sunday, July 17, 2011

In Cold Blood: A Tale of Crustacean Murder in Three Parts

I. It was a dark & stormy afternoon. It was a Thursday, as I recall, or maybe it was a Friday. They say you never forget your first time, but now that I've been there and back, who can remember? Anyway, the dates don't really matter, because I'd had only one thing on my mind for a long time.


My partner, he phoned me from the place, you know, the place, the one where things get taken care of*. 'You wanna do this thing?' he asked me. I hesitated for only the briefest fraction of a second, considering the practicalities: Did I have the tools** to get the job done? Did I dare to do the deed itself? 'Oh yes,' I said hastily. 'Let's do this thing.' He arrived with our victims loosely contained in a paper bag, gently crinkling with the movement of an exploratory claw here and there.

* aka, the grocery store. You know. The place where things get taken care of.

** 5-quart stockpot, cooking tongs, large sink for rinsing, fresh sweet corn on the cob, potatoes, smoked sausage and seasonings.

II. Now before anyone gets upset, you should know that these particular freshwater crustaceans deserved their fate, for having thwarted me once before. We had a long, twisted history, and it wasn't pretty. When my partner arrived we dumped the unsuspecting victims from their brown paper sack into a large pot and covered them with a few changes of cool, fresh water.

We gave them a final rinse in the sink to remove any lingering traces of grit. I gave them a final chance to repent, but they were recalcitrant. I swear, one of them even raised a tiny, clenched little claw out of the water at me and shook it menacingly. 'All right, you little devils,' I said with gritted teeth tightly clenched. 'I've got a nice hot bath for ya.' And it was nice: full of halved cobs of corn, fat slices of smoked sausage, onion wedges, whole garlic cloves and generous shakes of cajun seasoning. Delicious*. As long as you weren't a crawfish.

* We used a recipe/method similar to the one given here.

One of them made a last, desperate attempt at escape. We laughed, having our 'Annie Hall' moment, somewhat nervously wielding a mesh strainer and hoping that between the two of us, we'd have the strength and steely nerve to wrangle this lone ranger back into the pot. Luck, or skill, was on our side. He was a brave fighter, but ultimately, a goner.

III. We pitched the whole mess out, once done, onto a tablecloth of newsprint*. Once you've dispatched your victims, it's best to get rid of them as quickly and as tastily as possible. And that mean sucking the delicious hot fat & liquid brains out of the heads**.

The sweetness of the crawfish meat (they are like tiny lobsters, after all, with most of the amazing meat resting in the tail) contrasted nicely with creamy bites of potato, golden kernels of corn, and salty, savory bites of sausage, all bound together in the same spicy seasoning that hints of fresh garlic and onion. A few of my favorite things, all in a pot together. Definitely don't forget to suck the heads.

* This is the best way to eat a simple, delicious boiled dinner with your fingers: all jumbled together, whole, with spices all blended together and no need to clean up afterwards. Just fold up the used newspaper with the shells and cobs and throw away!

** How to eat a whole crawfish: grasp the head tightly in one hand, the body/tail in the other. Squeeze the body close to where it joins with the head, twist until they separate. Place the tail meat between your teeth, bite down and suck or twist the tail meat free until it leaves the shell. Now, place the open end of the head in your mouth and create suction--you will be rewarded with warm, spicy, fatty juices! Suck all that you can out of there. This, along with the delicious tail meat (something with the texture and size of shrimp but the sweetness of lobster) is the good stuff. Suck those heads.

This is where the whole sordid tale came to an end: at the dining room table. If you do commit murder, it's best to have an accomplice. Tasty, tasty murder. No regrets. :)


  1. Oh my goodness - you two kill me! HA!

    (confession - I totally read that you included whore garlic cloves the first time through.)

  2. Hahahaha! Whore garlic! Dirty, filthy garlic.........IT KNOWS WHAT IT DID!! Ha ha! You may have started a new kitchen game chez Orange & Salt: insulting the ingredients! ;)