Yesterday, my hostess (or maybe I should say my host family, since I kind of feel like I'm studying abroad) took me to my very first crawfish boil. It was hosted by a self-proclaimed "coon ass." (The term apparently means "from Louisiana," and is not a racist term as it applies to whites as well, but I'll never use it without air quotation marks around it, that's for damn sure).
Before we left, everyone cracked open cold beers and sat around talking before we piled into the truck to leave--with the open cold beers. Including the driver. When I asked about Texas laws regarding roadies, no one was able to tell me and I was glad I had left my ID at my host family's house. It would take the cops that much longer to process me when we all got arrested.
Anyway, the "coon ass" who was hosting the crawfish boil had brought in 11 bags of crawfish (which is about 400 pounds), set up a huge tent in his backyard, and hired a "coon ass" DJ to play Zydeco music. (One thing I guess I should mention here is that New Orleans is only about 4 hours away from Houston, so it seems like the Mardi Gras spirit is alive and kicking in the Lone Star State.)
First, the crawfish is boiled in a huge pot, then dumped in a cooler with cajun spices and allowed to sit for about ten minutes. You serve yourself piles of the "mud bugs," along with corn and potatoes. In order to eat the crawfish, you pinch the tail and twist off the body (which you toss--there's a lot of waste involved in the poor man's shrimp), tear off a couple of the "rungs" of the tail (which are segments of exo-skeleton) and then pull out the flesh of the tail. It's much smaller than shrimp (even the big crawfish we were eating) and has a different texture, but is absolutely delicious with the spices. Also, you can eat and eat and eat and not get full since there's so much time between one bite and the next. There's no silverware (not even for the potatoes), and you'd better wash your hands really well before you take out your contacts, or else you're really going to hate your life for a while.
While we were eating (and drinking, naturally--there were four coolers packed with domestic beers) the DJ played a variety of music at an ear-splitting decibel that would have been cause for the neighbors to call the cops anywhere but in Texas. There was line dancing (I shit you not) and a mamba line that finished with jello shots for everyone. Mardi Gras beads were freely distributed. I'd say a good time was probably had by most, but as we got there at noon, I was done partying by 6:30 and was more than ready to lay down once we left.