A volunteer stirs a vat of gumbo at last year's Crawfish Festival, hosted by Operation Northern Comfort and Operation Southern Comfort. It is the nonprofit organization's largest annual fundraiser. This year's will be held from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. this Saturday, May 3, in Clinton Square.
continued The crusty critters will be boiled live in large pots of heavily seasoned water. Festival goers will feast on half-pound servings of steaming 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.
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.” 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.
“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.
There will be hundreds of pounds of boiled mudbugs at Saturday’s crawfish fest, but other vittles will also be available, including fried catfish from Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, Bob’s Barkers hot dogs, pizza and brownies from the Last Stop Bakery, java from the Coffee Pavilion and wine, beer and soft drinks.
Tasty tunes too
Festival goers will also munch on clams, shrimp, gumbo, jambalaya and salt potatoes. Cooks will fry beignets, those famous New Orleans dough-nuts sprinkled liberally with confectionary sugar.
Sweet music will also be served for free. Bands include Los Blancos, the Fabulous Ripcords, Soul Risin,’ and C’est Bon.
And remember, if anyone says something about pinching your tail, they’re not being fresh, they’re just offering some gastronomic guidance.