Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Twist, Suck, Peel, Pinch, and Bite It. Repeat.
This isn't southern trash-talk, these are Stephie V's instructions for eating crawdads. The Memorial Day weekend arrived — the Brooklyn Bridge celebrated it's 125th anniversary, Fleetweek was upon us, but more importantly Steph and Owen's Annual NOLA Crawfish Boil started the summer. These little mud-bugs are cooked live and served hot out of boiler, right onto the Sunday Times. Hunks of corn, onion, potato and garlic were boiled along-side in a spicey rub. The bright red color always looks like Christmas in summer to me.
You can't be too neat or too shy with this meal, you might get plowed into a pile of shells. Steph (a native New Orleander) also made her famous kickin' Creole red beans 'n' rice, the perfect companion to Owen's Bourbon soaked ribs. Some folks brought slaw, three-bean salad, potato salad, mac salad, brownies, cake... et al. I brought two six packs, my camera, and a healthy appetite.
Charlie played with his food before cooking it. These little guys are fiesty, you have to load them into the boiler with a pair of leather gloves. Charlie showed us how to put a crawfish to sleep by rubbing its belly. It works on lobsters too but you gotta rub harder. I sat at the table a few times, but to be fair I didn't get the whole technique down until my third turn at the table. I found the best strategy was to wait for people to burn their hands and leave the table. At this point everything was just hot enough to pick up and eat. Dan demonstrated the crawdad five-step to Carrie. If one paid close attention the instructions read like a pattern:
Any number. Cast on with long-tail method.
(Right side): *Hold crawdad firmly with working hand and twist body clockwise until it separates from the head. Suck all contents from the head, discard. Peel the first segment of shell from the body. Pinch the small of the tail to release the meat. Pull it out with your teeth and enjoy. Repeat from * (optional: wipe stuff from beard with sleeves).
Summer in Brooklyn — tout va bein. The emerald triangle of bars was well resprented by faithful patrons and staff of Mooney's, OC's and Freddy's. So who's minding the bar? Mooney's will be closing its doors in mid-June, but we all think of happier times.
Someone asked why I didn't bring my accordion. Reply: "I'm too old and it keeps crushing my spine". It's a heavenly insrtument in the right hands, but it weighs like a hellish radiator otherwise. Et toi? Peut-être, mon petite chou-chou. Little Charlotte is getting bigger, she's a regular walking terror. She has Antoine's eyes and Janice's smile.
Good times and good friends are like good food — you enjoy them all while you can. The day was warm and the yard was deep with smiling faces of friends and neighbors.
Stephie found a toe-headed stray, but Owen said they're not keeing her. Children ran about, played, and danced to accordion rythm. The backyard smelled like good times — BBQ, cumin, garlic and peppers.
Owen went sans-gant for the last boil. Food and libation were plentiful. As the last batch of crawfish cooled, the sun set to the sound of laughter and music. Là bas chanté, et tois!