Crawfish Festival: The Perfect Country Vacation

For one weekend in Fredericksburg, Texas, Cajun meets country.

| September/October 2009

Video: How to Peel a Crawfish 

I had watched the Cajun dance steps and listened to the zydeco music for about 8 hours when it finally occurred to me what I had to do; I needed to learn to dance. After watching the fast, catchy style of music for so long, I desperately wanted to know how 20 or so folks were moving so smoothly in unison to the beat, each with his or her own embellishing style.

I was in Fredericksburg, Texas, for the town’s annual crawfish festival, and I had already learned the proper way to eat a crawfish, what the best gumbo tasted like, and the history of zydeco music.

Now, being able to move to the music – at least to me – would be the culmination of fully experiencing a rural community’s annual Cajun celebration; the consummate rural festival and celebration.

A day earlier, May 22, I had arrived in downtown Fredericksburg at about 9 p.m., the smell of sausage and seafood pulling at my impulsive taste buds and enticing me to buy a pound of crawfish for $6 at Bob Neutze’s vending booth. After I had one of the vendors show me how to pinch off the tail, suck the juice out of the head and peel the lower portion of the crustaceans’ shell off to extricate the meat, I had the best crawfish I tasted all weekend. The spicy seafood appealed to my taste for all things with a bit of a gamey, spicy taste.

“I cook it with tender loving care,” Bob says. “We try to season them up. To me, as far as crawfish goes, if you eat more than two or three and don’t need something to drink, they’re not cooked right.”

James, Bob’s son, chimed in, saying that Creole seasoning (to spice the crawfish up) and about a pound of butter per boil (to help the meat slide out of the exoskeleton) are two key points to the Neutze crawfish mastery.

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