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Pinch the tail, suck the head'

It's an old Louisiana adage: "Pinch the tail, suck the head."

It sounds salacious, but it's actually delicious.

"Pinch the tail, suck the head" is the simple, best advice about how to eat boiled crawfish.

Central New Yorkers can make a meal of the marvelous mudbugs from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday May 7, when Operation Southern Comfort presents its 4th annual Crawfish Festival. This year, the big boil takes place at Chevy Court at the State Fairgrounds in Geddes. In case of rain, it'll move inside the center or Progress Building. Admission is free and there's plenty of free parking.

Miniature lobsters

Crayfish, also known as crawfish or crawdads, are freshwater crustaceans resembling small lobsters. Found in slow-moving bodies of water, mostly brooks and streams, they breathe through gills. The thumb-sized shelled creatures sometimes burrow up to 10 feet into the ground earning their nickname, mudbugs.

Louisiana's rural Cajuns first harvested crawfish for their families, but in the 1940s commercial enterprises started farming crawdaddies and packaging the peeled tails, their most succulent meat. Over the years, chefs have adapted crawfish into all sorts of dishes, from crawfish touff e with rice, crawfish monica with pasta, crawfish pie, crawfish bisque or crawfish au gratin. On the simpler side, there are crawfish breads, fried crawfish po'boys and even crawfish beignets.

Best boiled

The simplest and best way to eat crawfish, however, is boiled, and that's how they'll do it here. Operation Southern Comfort is flying in a few thousand pounds of live crawfish for Saturday's she-bang.

The crusty critters will be boiled live in a large pot with heavy seasoning (salt, cayenne pepper, lemon, garlic, bay leaves, etc.). Festival-goers will feast on steamed crawfish with sides of boiled potatoes and corn.

It only takes a minute or so to cook the crawfish, and after they've been removed from the pot and cooled, they're ready to eat.

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