A friend of mine threw such a fun birthday party a few weeks back: she invited 20 friends over for a sit-down, get-your-hands-dirty, crawfish feed. Emarie happens to be in the business of weddings and events, so it’s not a surprise that she knows a bit about throwing a good dinner party (no pressure!), but this was her and her husband’s first time cooking crawfish for 20 people in their front yard. I asked her for some tips after the fact because I thought it was perfect!
Everyone started off very civilized—except for perhaps Aron and I who literally hovered over the table of oysters and the bottles of champagne. I was a little embarrassed about the way the shells were piling up in my palm. Emarie ordered the oysters through her family’s restaurant but notes that you could get them from any local distributor—”like Hog Island or any of the other companies in Tomales bay” if you’re nearby—or perhaps even your local grocer, who would order them for you (which we’ve had done at Whole Foods). She ordered 150 for 20 people: “Next time I would do 200.”
She had set up a long table, covered in plastic, for dinner. “It helps if you work in the event industry and have access to all the event rentals you would need. If not, it’s still a basic set up. Tables, chairs and plastic drop cloths from the hardware store will do the trick! No utensils or napkins needed.” No napkins? We were a little shocked, but she assured us: “It’s s silly to wipe your hands or face until you throw in the towel and call it quits! If you have unscented baby wipes laying around, that will do the trick!”
For 20 guests, she purchased:
60lbs crawfish (cooked around 45lbs)
10lbs head on gulf prawns
12 ears of corn
20 red potatoes (some cut in half)
“I’m lucky that my parents own a restaurant so it was easy to find a pot that would hold 50lbs of crawfish. If you don’t have access to commercial-size restaurant equipment, ask friends to gather as many stock pots as possible… and start boiling your water early! It’s a real pain to wait when you are ready to eat!” I loved how everyone hovered over the big steamy pot with flashlights.
And after slurping and sipping and getting to know everyone a little better, we got a lesson in eating crawfish and then got down to the business of digging in and making a mess.
And those plastic sheets on the table meant that all that mess just got rolled right up. Brilliant.
Would you host a messy dinner party like this? A crawfish or a crab feed (with Old Bay) seems like such a great equalizer for bringing friends together. Thanks for the tips, Emarie!