Friday, March 28, 2008

Shreveport food review: consuming the crawfish *fat* in Creole / Cajun-style boiled mudbugs

Took home a few pounds of boiled mudbugs from Shaver's today and found them excellent: the size was medium to medium plus, the shells were light and easy to peel, texture of the meat was creamy and the flavor was Essence of Louisiana Boiled Crawfish.

The price was about $3 a pound; eheu.

Y'know, the posterized idea of *sucking the heads* bothers me. What should be happening after you've consumed the tailmeat is capturing the lump of what we in Louisiana call crawfish fat. It's inside the thorax and is not gotten by sucking. You dig into the main body cavity with your little finger and out comes an orangish-yellowish lump of penultimate flavor. It's the crawfish liver and pancreas, according the Glen Pitre's classic reference, The Crawfish Book (U Press of Mississippi, '93). Creole cooks consider the hepatopancreatic material mandatory for crawfish etouffee.

A couple of items to consider for those new to eating Louisiana-style boiled crawfish: one, it's loaded with salt. Two, the chili pepper in the crawfish makes your fingers fiery - even after washing - and unusuable for touching sensitive tissue such as your eyes. Three: crawfish, says Pitre, are low in fat and high in minerals. Alas, they are high in cholesterol.

The spices found in the pot of a Cajun crawfish boil reflect the blending of African, Caribbean and European folkways that is the Bayou State at its best. Red pepper, onion, garlic, lemon and salt are the mainstays.

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