Highlights: Getting Pinched, Crawfish Races and Quality Time…
By Patrick Bonin
Life is full of incredible “firsts.” Your first words. Your first love. Your first kiss. Your first car.
And if you’re really lucky, your first crawfish boil!
CajunCrawfish.com recently conducted an on-line contest asking folks to write about their memories of the first time they ever experienced the amazing sights, sounds, smells and tastes of boiled mudbugs. You can see Mary Pitman’s entire winning entry here!
Apparently these tasty crustaceans make quite a first impression, especially with kids. From hosing down the sacks before the boil to getting pinched for the first time, mudbugs seem to evoke fond childhood memories.
“We would pick the biggest bugs out and have crawfish races,” wrote Lisa Anderson, of Conway, Arkansas. “Try getting a crawfish to race when he is turning around and holding his pinchers up like he’s going to snatch your nose off! LOL! Nothing like a big crawfish boil to bring family together!”
Allison Atkins from Maryville, Tennessee mistakenly thought all the crawfish she found in their old washtub were going to be new family pets!
“Once I found out we were going to eat them, I told my cousins that our family had lost our minds, and we had to set the little things free,” she recalled.
After a failed rescue mission, she initially refused to eat them, but couldn’t hold out for long.
“The smell was intoxicating. I grabbed one and fell in love! I went from animal rights activist to a head-sucking, tail-eating, crawfish-loving Cajun,” she wrote.
Jeremy Billeaudeaux, from Chino Hills, California, recalled an interesting visit he and his brother experienced with his grandmother in south Louisiana about 40 years ago. After getting a sack of crawfish, she left the boys in the car with the mudbugs while she stopped inside a grocery store to pick up supplies for the boil. That’s when the crawfish started making their way out of the sack…
“I bolted into the store in a pure panic,” Jeremy wrote. “(But) my 3-year-old brother was not so lucky. Forty pounds of crawfish were slowly making their way towards him.”
In true Cajun fashion, they returned to the car and found the youngster calmly picking the crawfish up and throwing them back towards the sack!
“He had successfully fended off a mad crawfish attack at three years old,” Jeremy recalled. “Later that night after everything had calmed down, we all had a great laugh about the youngest Billeaudeaux fending off 40 pounds of crawfish as we enjoyed the spoils of the great crustacean battle!”
Aside from being a culinary delicacy, it seems the powerful lure of crawfish has even played a part in launching some long-term relationships!
Allyson Bossie of Hurdle Mills, North Carolina recalled her first date with her “now husband” at a restaurant serving boiled crawfish, where he eventually got her to try them.
“They were scary looking for sure, but so amazing tasting,” she wrote. “Turns out we have been inseparable ever since and now that we are married, we have crawfish every year for our anniversary.”
Kimberly Butler’s first mudbug experience came with her fiancé at the Crawfish Festival in Syracuse, New York, where she initially refused to sample the crustaceans.
“His family said they would pay $200 (they pooled their money together) for me to try it and I did! I tried it for the first time and fell in love!”
Butler, of Newburyport, Massachusetts, is getting married in October, and now crawfish is on the menu at the reception!
Dana Fontenot of Durango, Colorado even attributes her marriage to her “lightning fast” crawfish-peeling skills that she learned as a child at big family crawfish boils.
“My future husband would just stare at me at a crawfish boil because I could peel those darn things three to his every one,” she wrote. “I think that’s why he married me!”
Mark Kirshbaum from Humboldt, South Dakota wasn’t motivated by love, but rather the prospect of living the lifestyle of the rich and famous when he first sampled crawfish.
“My father said they were miniature lobsters, which we thought only the rich people ate. My cousin and I, both about 9 or so, decided we would be just like the rich,” Mark wrote.
So as they were seining for minnows, they filled up a coffee can with the crustaceans, headed home and removed the tails and shells before boiling them!
“We made a mess,” he recalled. “All we knew was that they had to be boiled, so into a pan they went… They were so overcooked they chewed like rubber. By the time we finished eating, we had decided that if this is what rich people eat, we would stay poor.”
The magical powers of freshly boiled Louisiana crawfish even had one entrant contemplating loyalty to his home state.
Lee Levesque was born and raised in Maine, where seafood is abundant and lobster is almost everyone’s dish of choice. But after a stint in the Army landed him in Louisiana at Fort Polk in 1967, mudbugs won him over.
“Ever since that day many years ago, I still think I prefer crawfish over lobster,” Lee wrote. “I am sorry, Maine. I’m not renouncing my statehood, but I do love crawfish!”
We understand Lee. Because while crawfish themselves are delicious, and the corn and potatoes and sausage and mushrooms and onions all taste unbelievably amazing, one of the most important ingredients at a crawfish boil in south Louisiana is the presence of family and friends. Having the opportunity to sit down elbow-to-elbow and visit makes memories for everyone, everytime!
Sarah Cary, of The Colony, Texas, never totally understood why everyone got so excited talking about crawfish boils when she moved from Michigan eight years ago… until she went to her first one last summer.
“I TOTALLY GET IT now!” she wrote. “Not only is it delicious, but the camaraderie of cracking (the shells) and eating is priceless!”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Thanks to everyone for entering, and stay tuned for more contests in the future!