On Friday I couldn't resist buying a bag of frozen crawfish at the local supermarket. Whole cooked crawfish, in Cajun spices, 5 pounds for $7.99. From Texas. Such a deal! I was really excited because I really like crawfish and was really enthusiastic about cooking some. (Don't start laughing yet.)
So, we are in the middle of replacing the windows in our house and my job is sanding and preparing the window sills while J.A. stains and finishes the new sashes. Hence our kitchen is a mess and not really fit to cook anything in. AND, we'd spent the weekend at a Scandinavian dance and music workshop, so we'd already been plenty creative. But, last evening after we got home from the workshop I decided to get involved with the crawfish, cleaned up a corner to work in, and started in on making an etoufee.
Where do you begin? You put the rice on. You make a roux. Then you get the bag out of the freezer and open it. Gulp. Well, it did say whole crawfish.
My parents are from Louisiana, and I was born there, too. I've eaten crawfish in Louisiana, in various forms, and I like it. I've cooked etoufee before, but with langostino which is the closest thing we can usually get to crawfish here in California. Langostino is always peeled and deveined, so you just pop it into the pot. I was really looking forward to this, but I've never before encountered the whole beast and couldn't imagine that you would want to fish the whole thing (ha, ha) out of your gravy and take it apart at the table. So I separated the heads and set them aside to make a bouillon and then I threw the tails into the etoufee. It was starting to look good, so I served it up and selected a nice light beer to go with.
J.A. was game for the challenge of removing the meat from the tails, and he really enjoyed the dish. I found the etoufee gravy over rice to be scrumptious, but the crawfish meat had an aftertaste that I found less than appealing. I'm not so sure I like the smell of the broth, either, but we'll reserve judgment about that.
Here's the math...I bought 5 pounds of crawfish for $7.99 (or $1.59 per pound). Sounds pretty good, right? But, given that crawfish are about 80% head, that means that only about one pound of crawfish tails were in the bag. We used about 1/4 of the bag for this experiment and the rest is destined to become fertilizer. So if you look at the amount that was actually eaten (about 1/4 pound), that makes the actual cost more like $31.96 per pound.
Considering you can buy frozen Louisiana crawfish tails (deveined and peeled, for goodness sake) on line for $16.99 per pound plus shipping, there may be a moral here somewhere about impulse purchases.
On the other hand...
- we got an evening's entertainment out of it;
- we affirmed our spirit of adventure;
- I have a husband who loves me and is amused rather than upset by cooking misadventures;
- nothing ventured, nothing gained...would you rather have tried and failed or would you rather never take a risk?
- for every good creation there are any number of failed experiments, but we learn from each endeavor.