Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez


A long long time ago some Frenchies got kicked out of Nova Scotia and wandered on down to Louisiana. They started eating things that required a LOT of cayenne pepper to choke down. Eventually enough breeding happened that my husband was produced. Now my family is all descended from Northern Europe and somehow on our boats over the ocean we lost the Scandinavian recipes, the German recipes, and I can't say much for British cooking anyway. I have NO family recipes. (And Dad Pennsylvania Dutch potato soup does not count because we are neither Dutch nor from Pennsylvania!) So unless you count roast beef I have no food connection to the previous generation. No sauces. No special holiday treat. OK I take that back my Grandma makes pffernusse cookies, I tried, it didn't work out so well. And on my mom's side...you can hear crickets chirping it is so quiet in the kitchen. 

So when I went to meet the husband's family almost a decade ago they do what they always do in the spring...had a crawfish boil. Now living in St. Louis I was aware of people eating these things around Mardi Gras. I had gone to a Fat Tuesday parade once. Except the little crustaceans are called crayfish in Missouri. I even held one once. But never had I been to a crawfish boil, eaten jambalaya, etouffee, boudain, beignets, or had my nose run from eating corn and potatoes.  

In the spring of 2000, pounds of crawfish were ordered, boiled, seasoned, and had their little tails pulled off of their bodies and mutilated in order to obtain a itty bit of meat. There may have been some head sucking. This meat tastes very similar to shrimp but not as oceany if you've never had one. Eating them takes time and is an all afternoon or evening affair. It is not fancy, pretentious, or clean. (DO NOT touch your eyes for the love of Pete!) It is relaxing. It is surrounded by family and friends. (And most likely beer and if enough beer is around then there is a washboard involved too.) When my husband's family has people over they cook two things: brisket and crawfish.  And then they relax. This just doesn't happen in my family. Oh sure we bar b que but it simply another way to cook dinner. It is not an affair. It is not a day long event. We have one day long event pertaining to food in my family...Thanksgiving. 

Since being married to the husband we have boiled crawfish more than once. We tried to order them in Las Vegas, but had to settle for a shrimp boil. I have tried other Cajun food as well, including jambalaya, gumbo, etouffee, and let's not forget boudain.  I love beignets (especially at Cafe du Monde). I keep an eye out for King Cake in February (only found one here once.)  And last spring when Mardi Gras rolled around the husband and I surprised the boy with crawfish. He IS Cajun. In Texas at the Grandparents house he requests crawfish. He is spoiled so he gets crawfish.  Baby girl is a totally different story. She cries when faced with the idea of eating fish of any sort. She just will not do it. But the boy?  He knows what a fais do do is.  So while I may not have recipes or ethnic traditions to hang my hat on it no longer matters...I co-opted my husband's.  

and while I could link you to some zydeco music, I am going for a more southern flair...





or perhaps the creme de la creme...

5 comments:

Pappy said...

you know that your sweet home alabama boys are from Jacksonville don't you? You want a family cookbook? We actually had one published one time (actually it is an Atteberry cookbook since GPA Bob only knew how to make toast and coffee). I will ask GMA if she has some recipe type things for you...If you want southern stuff...don't forget gater tail at Clarks Fish Camp.

Pappy said...

For all you mountain folk, check this site out:
www.clarksfishcamp.com/menu.pdf

Mitchell Family said...

We were just talking about my Uncle and a crawfish boil the other day. My mouth is now watering!

love2cook said...

I love crawfish, but won't do the head sucking thing. S went to Tulane for a year, so he knows the cuisine and the area well. We've also been down to New Orleans. That is some of the best food in the country! I love that the boy will eat cajun food!

Cathy said...

My mom is from Maryland, so her heritage is cooking crabs--somewhat similar. It's amazing how good those little critters, which look like bugs, taste!!! It's definitely a good time.