Food is central in south Louisiana, and the crawfish boil is a good example of how food brings Cajun folks together. A crawfish boil is similar to what other folks in the south call a low country boil, but I’ve found that nothing else in the south tastes quite like a Louisiana crawfish boil.
A crawfish boil is a big ordeal that takes all afternoon to prepare and eat. The crawfish needs to be fresh, so they need to be bought the day of the boil. The main things you need for a crawfish boil are:
- a large pot with a strainer basket between 65-80 quarts
- a larger propane burner
- a 140 quart ice chest
- crawfish boil seasoning
The first thing we’ll do is set the water boiling and add the seasoning because it takes awhile to bring so much water to a boil. Crawfish boil seasoning contains salt, cayenne pepper, paprika and a few other spices. After that, we open up the crawfish sack and put all the crawfish in the ice chest. We then fill up the ice chest with water to clean the crawfish. This helps to clean the dirt off the crawfish, and it also helps to purge the crawfish’s system. After the water gets dirty, we dump it out and then refill the ice chest. Three rinses usually suffice.
Crawfish aren’t the only thing eaten at a crawfish boil. In addition to crawfish we also boil red potatoes, onions, corn on the cob and mini sausages. Those are boiled first as a precursor to the crawfish.
Once everything is boiled, we serve the crawfish on large plastic trays and then go at it. Everybody sits around a patio table for a few hours just peeling, eating and talking. We usually mix together a dipping sauce with mayo, ketchup, garlic and onion juice, and cayenne pepper for the crawfish. The sauce is always mixed to taste, and I’ve never used a recipe for it.
Crawfish boils bring everybody in the family together, and they are one of the things about south Louisiana that I love most. The closest thing that I’ve found to a crawfish boil in Georgia is a shrimp boil, but I definitely miss eating crawfish.