Way, way back in the prehistoric era before there was a Mrs. Stevie Joe, New Orleans was a popular destination for Junior and me. We'd head down for a weekend, maybe more. Often short of cash, we found the cheapest places to eat and drink. That's a hard thing to do in such a tourist mecca, but we learned to follow the locals to find the best cheap grub.
On one particular trip, however, we decided to see how the other half ate. We saved up our nickels and went on over to Arnaud's, the classic creole eatery. Not sure of what to eat in such an establishment, we figure we ought to just go native and order up some crawdads. These particular crawdads were served inside of some sort of pastry shell and filled with all sorts of good stuff. Let me tell you, it was good.
When we got back to Junebug Holler, Junior would just not shut up about those crawdads at Arnaud's. He wanted more than anything to have them again, but, lacking the proper resources, it wasn't going to happen anytime soon. So, he figured he could make up a batch himself. He went on down to the creek and came back with a bucket full of crawdads. They're not too hard to catch with your hands once you learn the proper technique.
He brought them over to my house asked me how to peel them. I was a bit confused because it's not all that hard, even for Junior. I started to explain, but he interrupted to tell me that they were still alive. What he wanted to know was how to kill them.
When boiling crawdads, I figured that you just tossed them in the water and let the temperature do the dirty work. However, since Junior was going to bake them, he'd have to peel them first - hence the quandary. Not hearing a quick solution from me, he just said "never mind" and headed on home with his bucket of still squirming crawdads. I later learned that he bopped them all on the head with a hammer.
Junior went and bought one of those ready-made pie crusts from the Piggly Wiggly to bake the crawdads in. He figured that would be pretty darned close to what Arnaud's did. He wasn't sure about the other ingredients and spices. So, he just tossed in some tater tots (I kid you not) and Tabasco.
As you might imagine, Crawdads à la Junior was a complete failure. The pie crust that he bought was a graham cracker crust, and the flavors didn't quite mesh. I guess we should go back on down to Arnaud's someday and see of we can still get some of their crawdad pie. Junior would be pleased as can be.
Stevie Joe Parker