Monday, September 6, 2010

The Crayfish Party

A few weeks ago my friend Zelma and I set out on a quest. A quest to find the holiest of all things culinary – the crayfish. Normally, a crayfish can be found in a river or a lake, and since there are 187,888 lakes in Finland, it shouldn’t be too difficult to hunt one down. However, Zelma and I don’t kill animals for food. If we’re to actually take a living being and put it into boiling water, it will at least have to be for a good reason, like fun, or a good practical joke. Therefore, we went to the supermarket and got the ready-dead frozen kind. They needed a good defrosting, so we left them in the sink and went out for some pre-dinner adventure. We went to the farmers’ fair.

We petted a pig. We looked at a cow. We ran like Satan himself was after us when the heavens opened and an epic thunderstorm hit the fair. Zelma and I ran for our lives. We were too scared to use our umbrellas because we’ve been told never to hold a metal stick in a thunderstorm. We’re smart like that. We were running and screaming and soaked through by the rain and suddenly realized that we were in desperate need of coffee. And it so happens that the coffee shop was way closer than Zelma’s car – what a coincidence!

We ran inside just as lightning struck something not entirely in our imminent vicinity, and pretended that the coffee shop was our destination the entire time. We looked like a couple of drowned, very humanoid, cats. Zelma had a cup of coffee, I had a cup of hot chocolate, and by the time we were done the thunderstorm had passed and we were safe to walk all the way to our car without having to hold metal sticks. I held one anyway, just to show that I wasn’t scared of a little lightning.

We got back to our crayfish just in time to verify that they were still dead, which they were. There’s nothing as annoying as zombie crayfish. We grabbed a crayfish in one hand, a knife in the other and let the games begin. This is how you eat a crayfish, crawfish, crawdad or any other identical crustacean with an identity crisis: First, off with the claws, and suck the juices out of them. Then the claws need to be bent open to get to the tiny piece of meat inside them. Next, the shell, head and inner organs have to be separated from the body. A little suck of the grey ribs is often just the right thing before you move on to the tail. The shell needs to come off the tail, the poop chute needs to be removed, and then you’re sitting there with the only real piece of meat on the entire creature. A tiny little piece of tail that tastes salty and fishy. Yum! And totally worth the effort of dissecting an entire crayfish just to get to a piece of meat the size of something way too small to be dinner.

Not dinner.

Zelma and I had about 10 crayfish each, after which we were too exhausted and hungry to keep eating. We went to a barn dance instead. My inner redneck rejoiced. *


  1. My wife's just like you when we eat lobster. Absolutely nothing goes to waste. Me? I'm a claw and tail guy. I hate to fight with my food.

  2. nonamedufus: Lobster, huh? I've never had lobster. But if I did, I wouldn't waste a single thing either. Shell, poop chute, brain... If it came off, I'd eat it. And I'd enjoy it.

  3. I love the image of you two wet cat girls! Also, it's fitting that you went back and tore up and devoured the crayfish. And I too hate zombie fish worse than anything. A friend and I went to an Asian Fusion place and the couple next to us were eating something alive. Oh dear God!

  4. I loved your story.

    You would love lobster but not zombie lobsters. They are grey and scary.


    I think you have been fooling us. You are from Louisiana, not Finland.

  5. I don't know why, but I have don't have a smart-ass comment to leave. This just sounds like a perfect Frog and Toad sort of day. In case you're not familiar with Frog and Toad, they are two very good friends who have adventures together. Things don't always go exactly as planned, but they have each other, and that's enough.

    I envy you, although I also had a pretty good weekend myself for once.

  6. Ziva, my husband would love you. I wish I had a camera. I have pictures of the crayfish boil on my phone from husband's hunt club. Live before they went in. I couldn't/wouldn't touch them with a 10 ft. pole. But I thought the potatoes, mushrooms and other things they boiled them with would be good. Turns out that since the creatures came from Louisianna, so did the hot spices. And I tried a mushroom which tasted good for about 2 seconds and then my mouth was on fire and I drank tons of water. Yuk.

  7. You see! You went and complained about the lack of extreme weather and look what happened! Lightning striking nowhere near you. That'll teach you to poke a metal stick at the weather gods!

  8. Ziva, were you being serious when you said that you've never had lobster? If so, then you must and right away. Anybody who likes crawfish would love lobster, which is basically a giant crawfish, meatier and perhaps a little sweeter. It is one of my favorite foods, although a bit expensive. I'm surprised they don't have them where you live, but perhaps they don't live in the waters there. Too cold?

  9. Linda: They were eating something alive? I guess that's one way of making sure the food is fresh. But I can't help but wonder what the pig will say when I take a bite right out of its leg...

    Reffie: I think zombie lobster would be so cool! Maybe as a pet?

    middle child: That sounds so yummy! When I was little we used to boil our own crayfish, and it was always a little sad to say goodbye to the little buggers when they went into the water. Eventually I learned it was better not to name the things before we ate them.

    Nicky: It was terrifying. From now on I will only occasionally mock the weather gods. I promise.

    MikeWJ: I’m glad you had a good weekend. I’ve never had lobster and I’ve never heard of Frog and Toad. But they sound like lovely little amphibians. I told M yesterday that I would probably love lobster, and asked him if we can make it some day. Turns out he doesn’t like seafood. What a dork.

    We don’t have lobster here because they live in the ocean. We have no actual contact with the ocean – the Baltic Sea is filled with brackish water that has less salinity than oceans and makes it impossible for all sorts of yummy creatures to live in. But we do have them in the frozen food section in grocery stores. So if you have a good recipe for lobster, please email me so that I can make M eat something ridiculously expensive that he probably won’t like anyway.

  10. No recipe, but I like them grilled over a wood-smoke fire and then basted with butter and lemon. You can't go wrong with that. Get three or four of them if you're hungry, because they don't have a lot of meat per pound. You eat them just like crawfish, although most people don't suck the juice out of the body cavity. Not sure why not, though.

  11. Oh, almost forgot. When you grill them, it's best to split them in half longways.

    Lobster's truly one of the world's best-tasting foods, right up there with kalakukko or fiskbröd.

  12. MikeWJ: If I get three or four of them they better keep me full for the next three weeks because that's when I'll be able to afford to eat again. But butter and lemon sounds yummy..

  13. I love zombie crayfish, but they're a pain to eat. They keep wandering off the plate.

  14. We have rock lobster here which is almost like a giant crawfish, but with no claws and they're yummy! Grilling, like BonyMike said, is one of the best ways to cook them, but you must have melted plain or garlic butter and lemon at the ready, too.

  15. Lauren: Don't you just hate when your food walks away? I'm all about hunting for food, but once it's on my plate it could stay there.

    00dozo: That sounds absolutely delicious! Man, I so need to buy me a lobster, or four if that loan comes through.



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