It’s crawfish season yet again. At least I think it is. I heard once crawfish season is months that end in Y but that sounds ridiculous. I just wait until I start seeing various “All You Can Eat Crawfish” events popping up on Facebook. Usually by that time it’s too late and I’m stuck paying $13.99 per lb to eat crawfish that couldn’t fight in the same weight class as my thumb. Fortunately, I lucked out this past Saturday and managed to get ahead of the curve. The conditions were pretty prime. We got there with plenty of crawfish ready, and didn’t wait more than two minutes before sitting. The crawfish could have been a little spicier, but otherwise everything was nice. I worry though, based on what I observed while I was there, that come true crawfish season, when HEB’s doing boils every Saturday and any bar with a patio is packing patrons willing to shell double digits to stain their fingers red, we’re going to have quite an emergency on our hands. I don’t know what was going on, but the eating techniques I saw in there were cause for concern. It’s early, but you play how you practice, and if the sort of shenanigans I saw the other day go on when the line’s out the door and there’s a 20min wait per lb, we’re all going to have a bad time. That’s why we need to take the time now to talk about how to eat crawfish.
I found this really succinct, picture aided piece from Southern Living on how to properly consume a crawfish.
Easy enough right? The problem is, it’s not the technique that’s the problem. The nice thing about crawfish is unless you’re so young to the world you didn’t drive yourself to wherever it is you’re eating crawfish, you have either seen and eaten enough animals similar to a crawfish, or, possess the worldly experience and problem solving skills necessary to recognize you’re not supposed to eat them like chicken nuggets. No, the real issue is everything that’s going on that’s not crawfish eating, the residual activities that lengthen the time one occupies a table and forces everyone waiting to suffer under your prolonged and inefficient occupation. Let’s take a look at some ways you can improve your methods
Eliminate Distractions: I shouldn’t see your cellphone come out when the crawfish are on the table. Take your 1 (ONE) obligatory pic for the gram, and then put the phone away and get to work. I saw way too many people on Saturday stop eating to wipe their hands and fiddle with their phones. You don’t need to respond to that Bumble match in the middle of a pound. If it’s an emergency, you’ll know. Until then keep the hands dirty and the phone in the pocket.
You also don’t need to be going to eat crawfish if your goal is to do anything but eat crawfish. If you’re headed to the bar on All You Can Eat Crawfish day to catch a game, do those of us who showed up to feast a favor and stay home. Staring up at a screen instead of down at the task at hand wastes precious peeling time, as does contorting yourself to the one TV in the corner that’s showing whatever game you just HAVE to watch on a Tuesday night. We all love TV and we all love TV at bars but there’s a time and a place to put the game first and it’s not when you’re one of one hundred amongst 500lbs of steaming shellfish.
Plus, besides the obvious social ramifications, there are culinary benefits to focusing on nothing but the tray. Your tray is going to come out at a varying degree of temperature depending on where it was in the pot. The more you dick around and text or stop to watch a couple plays and make some commentary, the more heat is lost from those crawfish at the bottom of the tray. No one can eat an entire tray while it’s hot, we’re not expecting that. But sacrificing the last quarter of crawfish because you wanted to multitask is just rude. Get the most for your money and get to peeling, and only peeling, the second the tray hits the table.
Pair Your Alcohol Accordingly: This should be simple. You don’t have to be a master brewer or whatever the hell the beer version of a sommelier is to know what beers should and should not be paired with crawfish. There are only two possible answers. Light, or Mexican. If it’s light, you’re good, if it’s Mexican, you’re good. If it’s light AND Mexican? You’re perfect. Every season I see someone belly up to the bar and order some 8% grass filled IPA to go with their two pounds of crawfish and then surprise, the crawfish are done but the beer’s got two sips taken out of it because every time Einstein washes his triple hopped boojee beer on top of a gut full of crawfish he dry heaves. So what does he do? He sits there and nurses his $9 pint for 47 minutes while a crowd of people at the hostess stand collectively try to vaporize him with their mind. If you can’t go 1 beer to 1 pound of crawfish then whatever you’re drinking is too heavy. Go light and maximize your boozing with your feasting.
Ask For The Check With The Last Pound: Once you’ve had a second to bring yourself out of a shellfish and alcohol induced haze and are conscious enough to decide you only have room for 1 (just one) more pound, that’s when you ask for the check. Don’t be a hero and hold off because you think you might be able to dump a couple more beers on top or you might stick around long enough to get hungry again. Nobody ever stays long enough to get hungry again. As soon as the last potato is dipped in the butter your brain is only thinking about two things 1) sleeping 2) getting this concoction of bottom feeder, butter, spice, and booze out of your body as quickly as logistically possible. Save everyone involved precious time by asking for the check with your last pound so that as soon as you’re done eating you’re done being there and someone else can swoop in and vulture your seat before the table’s bussed.
There are other things that can be done to improve everyone’s experience such as only having one check per table or asking for spices on the side so the server doesn’t make your order take longer because you just haaad to have extra spicy, but ultimately if you just go in with an awareness of the anticipation and time of those around you, we’ll all be better off.
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