LAGNIAPPE (LAN YAP’)


mb11LAGNIAPPE (LAN YAP’) DEFINITION – [French Creole (chiefly in New Orleans area)] – A little something extra; A bonus; Something unexpected.

Yesterday I went to visit my good friend Fair down in Deerfield. Fair is a native Louisianan and each year he hosts a crayfish boil. Fair takes his crayfish seriously, having them flown in from Louisiana for his boil.

mb16While the food certainly held center stage, there was something a little extra for me at the party.  I have worked with Fair for quite a few years and most of the guests were old friends that I had not gotten together with in a long time. That was the Lagniappe of the day, the little extra.

Eating crayfish is best experienced when it is prepared by a native Louisianan like Fair, and half the fun is watching the preparation. Constantly refining his technique, Fair explains the subtletiesof a boil as he goes along. He is also the only person I know who can put a crayfish to mb12“sleep” by tickling its back.

While the crayfish are boiled in a large pot with seasoning another pot containing corn, artichokes, whole garlic and potatoes is also boiled in seasoning.

Fair also made a sausage native to Louisiana called Boudin. I can’t quite recall what he puts in it, but it is unbelievably good.

The whole process is extraordinary entertaining as escaping crayfish scuttle around and the sharp aroma of spices fill the air.

When everything is done it is spread out on a table covered with newspaper and the real fun begins.

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mb24There is an art to eating crayfish and it’s best to learn from a master. I have had the pleasure of seeing Fair eat crayfish competitively at the Florida Zydeco Cajun Festival where he took top honors for quite a few years in a row. While Fair’s speed eating technique can be a bit too fast to comprehend the actual method is fun, messy and satisfying.

You twist off the head of the crayfish and if you a true disciple you suck the hot, spicy juice from it. Then taking the tail you apply thumb pressure to the middle of it, forcing the tail meat out enough so you can grab it with your teeth.

mb25Between eating crayfish you have the corn, potatoes and artichokes and the whole garlic to squeeze onto some bread. The spices are hot and a cold beer goes a long way in soothing your lips and increasing your eating endurance.

As the afternoon went along thunderstorms rolled in but they did not dampen the party at all. Sitting under the porch we ate and laughed the day away.

If you ever have the chance to experience a crayfish boil jump at it, get messy and eat a lot. And if it’s with a bunch of old friends, well that’s the Lagniappe part.

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