Crawfish Dinner

I wrote this for a class but I liked it so much I am sharing it with you also:


The humid Louisiana air makes my white dress shirt stick to me. A chemical smell a little reminiscent of freshly cut grass hangs in the air. There’s been no emission alarm so I know it’s not deadly phosgene gas – just the normal, allowable emissions expected from an active chemical plant. My escape respirator can stay attached to my belt.

My colleagues and I leave work and minutes later we all arrive at the picnic grounds just outside of the chemical plant. The reactor towers are now hidden just behind the a stand of oak trees, Spanish moss hanging from the older ones. We could be in a city park anywhere but the security gates give away the fact that we aren’t.

Tents are set up and a crowd of employees have gathered for a celebration meal. Kenny Chesney sings over the PA about how sexy his tractor is. When I get to the front of the line, the woman behind the folding table grabs a dustpan-sized scoop and dips it in to a blue plastic bin. There’s a clattering of shells against metal as a massive scoop of boiled crawfish are picked up and then a clatter again as they are dumped in to a cardboard tray, nearly filling it. There’s some room left, though, for me to top it with a few boiled potatoes, and corn on the cob. Add a side dish of jambalaya to the plate and I’m happy

I plunge my hand in to a drum filled with ice water and come out with a Coke. The ice water feels good in the 32 degree heat and I don’t wipe it off. I sit down, grab my first crawfish, feeling its weight lying limp in my hand. It feels a little morbid. I don’t hold it long, instead quickly pinching its tail, giving its body a twist, cleanly removing the tail meat. I pull it out with my teeth, tasting the cayenne, salt and thyme on it and then, like the locals, I suck the juice from the head. Before long, my hands are covered. Napkins will be no match for this.

Share your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.