Pinch the tail, suck the head |

Pinch the tail, suck the head

While on the Gulf Coast last week reporting on the ongoing post-Katrina recovery efforts in Pearlington, Miss., Times’ staffers Paul Conrad and Scott Condon were invited to a good old-fashioned crawfish boil.Paul, an Air Force brat who has traveled and lived all over the world, surprisingly had never tasted a mudbug before. “I don’t know, it’s a lot of work for that little piece of meat,” he related Monday when asked what he thought of the fresh water delicacy.Alas, but that little shred of meat is – in my opinion – one of the most savory bites you’ll find on planet Earth. I discovered as much as a young boy during spring and summer trips to my grandparents’ two-story red brick home in Metarie, a suburb of the Big Easy. I’ll never forget those sticky Gulf Coast nights spent in the driveway with the whole family huddled around a heap of freshly boiled crawfish, all of us pinching tails, sucking heads and licking our lips to squelch the sting of the cayenne.For the Easter holiday, my four siblings and I convened at my sister’s house in Boston for a long weekend full of late nights fueled by wine, beer and plenty of great food.My beloved New Orleans-raised mother, sick to her stomach that she couldn’t be with her kids and wanting to add her own flourish to the weekend, air-mailed us 20 pounds of freshly harvested mudbugs from Louisiana. (Apparently sending money for fresh lobster didn’t strike her as being true to family tradition.)The container of live crustaceans was actually shipped to my sister’s law office, and she had to bring it home on the T – a journey in which she encountered plenty of strange looks.After a morning spent shopping for fresh fruits and veggies and some French bread at the Faneuil Hall open air market, we spent two hours cooking our feast. Then we dumped out everything over newsprint on the kitchen floor and sat on our butts – just as we did when we were kids – to gorge.I must agree – eating crawfish is a lot of work. But then again, I’ve never been one to complain.Nothing good ever comes easy.

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