Doing a crawfish boil in Montana isn't easy. First, someone (like my son) needs to find out about it and decide that it needs to be done for his birthday dinner. Then you have to find the crawfish supplier. Most challenging, you have to get the crawfish to Montana still alive.
Our crawfish were shipped out Tuesday for delivery Wednesday, giving us an extra day for delays. Thanks to the wonders of automated emails, we knew they left Louisiana on Tuesday as planned, and FedEx was due to deliver them around 10:00 on Wednesday. Wednesday morning came and went - no crawfish. Wednesday afternoon - no crawfish. We checked the FedEx tracking site and found that the package was estimated to be delivered that morning by 10:00, but was still in Great Falls that night. Hmm...
Thursday morning, the FedEx truck showed up just before 10:00. When the driver opened the back door, we could smell the crawfish - not a good sign. With foreboding, we opened the box and confirmed that they really didn't smell like something we should be eating, even though some of them were still alive; the box had clearly been warm for quite a while. Reluctantly, I refused the package. The poor FedEx driver then got to drive that noxious package all over southwest Montana, all the way to Harlowton and back, on a hot, sunny day; apparently, when he got back to the FedEx facility that night, he ran the sorters out just by backing his truck into the bay.
I called the suppliers to let them know what had happened, and they were helpful and friendly about it. The crawfish season ends this week, so they promptly got another box on the way for delivery Friday - a day late, but still a good evening for a crawfish boil. In the meantime, I picked up some steaks for the birthday dinner.
Friday the crawfish arrived as intended and my son promptly dove into taking care of them (good thing he had the day off!). He cooled them and culled the dead ones and purged them and babied them all afternoon. He figured out how to cook the crawfish and the accompanying potatoes, corn, and andouille sausage, and took care of it himself, including making the dipping sauce. He even knew that it was all supposed to be served on newspapers on the table and eaten with fingers - possibly the best part of the meal from my kids' perspective. In spite of my scepticism, it turned out beautifully!
It took us a while to get the hang of shelling the crawfish and we all have a few scraped knuckles to show for it, but it was a lot of fun. We figured out pretty quickly that they are easier to shell while warm, so we shelled all the leftovers as soon as we finished eating and plan to use them for jambalaya on Sunday. I can see doing this once a year - but it's a lot of work for more often. The timing gets tricky, too, since the crawfish season ends just as the baby red potatoes are ready and before the local corn is.