by Mike McHugh
It’s the peak of crawfish season here in Louisiana. Now’s the time of year when folks the state over fire up their propane burners and boil sack loads of these little critters that look like they’ve crawled here through a wormhole from some other dimension.
Actually, these are the same things that we used to catch in streams up in Yankee Land when I was a kid. No one up there ever dreamed of eating one. The closest anyone ever came, as I recall, was in third grade, when we slipped one in with the potato chips in Mary Ellen Harper’s lunchbox. It got an A-plus scream out of her, and a couple of semesters of eraser-clapping duty with Sister Jean out of us. To this day, you can still hear the faint echo of Mary Ellen’s scream in the Most Precious Blood school lunchroom, and I’m still coughing up the occasional bit of chalk dust.
I have to take my hat off to the unsung hero who first got the idea of actually putting something that resembles an aquatic scorpion into his mouth. Never mind that he probably did it on a dare at a time when his thinking was affected by Jose Cuervo. I only hope that he boiled it first, lest his tongue end up as if he’d stuck it into a wood chipper. Still, that would have been a small price for the contribution he’d made to Louisiana cuisine.
Here in Louisiana, boiled crawfish are easy to come by. Just go to any of the drive-thru stands that dot the roadsides in these parts. It’s easy and convenient, and, unlike fast food restaurants, you order from a real live face-to-face person, and not through one of those squawk boxes that sound like the attendant is speaking from Mars during an intense solar magnetic storm. And they sell only one thing—crawfish. That’s it. The only other decision is whether to add corn and potatoes. So there’s no risk of getting stuck waiting behind a minivan full of little leaguers, each pondering over the menu’s two dozen sandwich offerings and debating on whether or not to super size it.
I’ve come up with a great idea for a crawfish business, one that is sure to make me enough money to cover my beer tab for the season. I call it “E-Z Craw.” It would incorporate the technology used for collecting highway tolls with the drive-through crawfish concept. Customers would then be able to drive past the stand, and without having to slow down, we’d toss a sack of crawfish through the car window while an electronic tag mounted on the windshield records the payment. We’ll even throw in the cocktail sauce.
A guy gave me a great deal on some property for the business, too, right next to his car wash.