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Pinch the tail, suck the head'

New Orleans food critic Pableaux Johnson tells you what to do:

"Pick up a steaming crawfish and rip it into two pieces - cephalothorax and tail. Strip shell from tail end, bite off exposed meat, and inhale deeply through the head cavity. Take long quaff of fizzy beer, then throw shell onto towering mountain of empties. Repeat as needed."

All of which is another way of saying, "Pinch the tail, suck the head."

Most crawdads weigh less than four ounces, but with larger ones, you'll want to crack open their claws because there's meat in there too.

'Melt-in-your-mouth'

"From a culinary perspective, the tasty crawfish easily rivals its saltwater cousin - the hefty Atlantic lobster," Johnson said. "The crawfish's strong tail, its primary swimming muscle, is coveted for its sweet flavor (somewhere between lobster and shrimp) and melt-in-your mouth texture."

Some people dip the tail meat into cocktail sauce or melted butter, but the preferred condiment in Cajun country is Tabasco.

On Saturday, the hungriest festival-goers can buy two pounds of crawfish for $16, while less adventurous eaters can buy a pound for $10. If crawfish scare you, order a pound of steamed spiced shrimp for $20, or grab a hot dog and chips for $3. Other vittles will also be available, including pulled pork from Dinosaur Bar-B-Que and fried beignets, those famous Caf du Monde doughnuts covered with confectionary sugar.

Tasty tunes, too

Local rock bands such as Kane and the Fab 570 will keep festival goers on their feet as will country combo Custom Taylor Band and the All Night Ramblers, a Cajun-style band based in Rochester and featuring fiddler Bill Henrie. For festival info, call 637-0116.

Rebuilding residences

Live music, legal beverages and raffles will create a festive atmosphere at Satuirday's Crawfish Fest while benefiting Operation Southern Comfort's efforts to rebuild Louisiana homes ravaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. To learn about those efforts, contact Norm Andrzejewski (pronounced AN-dru-juski), at 559-9413, or via e-mail at nandrzej@twcny.rr.com.

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