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Ode to crawdads

| Monday, April 14, 2014

The sun is out, the kegs are full and our backyards are filled with denim-clad crowds gathered to party. As we all know, once the weather begins to improve, it officially becomes “darty” season, and we all suddenly become much more interested in Frisbees, back porches and barbecue (or, for a small minority, a small crustacean called crawfish).

This past weekend, members of the Notre Dame design community gathered for the annual crawfish boil, a gathering of students, faculty and alumni for a day of drinking, networking and bonding over this Louisiana-style cookout. A lot of preparation goes into this feast, in which 100 pounds of live crayfish (also known as craydads or mudbugs) are shipped out overnight for the event. Upon their arrival at the boil, brave attendees can interact directly with the crawfish before they become their meal, placing these mini lobster-look-a-likes on our ears like living earrings and attempting to endure the pain of their claws enough to snap a photo (without getting too emotionally attached, of course).

Then comes the even better part of the day, in which a giant pot of these steaming hot crawdads are poured over a table, like a Cajun-seasoned Christmas present. As we all eagerly stand in anticipation for the consumption, it is only those dedicated enough that earn a spot around the table. Next, we must compete ferociously with those around us to devour as many as possible. There is a highly skilled art to consumption, however, and a very specific method, which involves aggressive twisting, cracking and sucking of these little crawfish. And yes, it looks just as unattractive as it sounds.

Around the crawfish table, all judgment is gone as participants shamelessly partake in this disturbingly savage communal feast. The aftermath of the feeding frenzy involves a lot of Lysol wipes and maybe even a shower, but more importantly, you have earned a new and incomparable bond with your fellow tablemates. While I joke that the crawfish boil is my favorite holiday, it is a truly unique event that brings the whole department and all who attend together in a memorable way. This annual event is one I will always look forward to and hope to share with others in years to come.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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  • I was there for the first two crawfish boils and it’s amazing to see this tradition continue almost 25 years later! I hope Sherman still attends.