Friday, September 24, 2010


You'd never think about a little ornery critter like this as being anything of a matchmaker, but he, or a big ole crowd of his family, certainly gave it their all one time, and made an ordinary evening into one of the best parties I ever gave.

Years ago, before Chris and I met, I used to go places with several of my girlfriends, all of us unattached, and we’d have some wonderful times, from just going out to dinner to going to Memphis to the Opera or Symphony or to hear a band we liked, or to Jackson for the weekend.

One of our ladies was not quite as independent as the rest of us, and was most eager to find a guy and get married, and based all her “outings on scoutings” as we teased her. She just
REALLY wanted to be married, and in an increasingly desperate way---you know, when a woman says, “I love Joe with all my heart and really want to marry him,” she’s on the right track, especially if Ole Joe loves her right back. But when your friend constantly says, “If I could just get married, everything would be all right,” then, there’s a lot of leeway for pro and con---mainly CON.

Anyway, on the evening in question, I’d invited a nice crowd over for dinner, including one really nice guy who lived a few miles from us, and who was just the kindest, sweet man, with his own farm and a few nice crawfish ponds, from which he sold to restaurants and locals.

We’d decided, my friends and I, to make it a lovely evening, with “dress for dinner” on the invitations---our “dress” being everything from A DRESS to nice pants to that sequined thing you bought for Mary Alice's Las Vegas elopement last year.

I cooked a lovely meal for about fifteen or so, and set up the tables in the big den, all with nice china and silver---one of those two-glasses-to-the-setting arrangements; not too formal, but swinging pretty high for one of our usual gatherings. I remember I wore a beautiful silky caftan (it was that era)---all drifty golds and taupes and tans, and the house looked lovely with the flowers and candles.

Everything was all arranged, with the coffee service set up on the buffet, and all the food in readiness, all the guys in nice slacks and jackets, all the ladies primped and pretty. My friend was a little bit nervous of the meeting, though she was surrounded by all of us friends, and kept looking out the door and windows as the time ticked on.

The last to arrive was our friend Joe himself, right on time, and as I was busy in the kitchen at that moment, I didn’t see him get out of the truck. I heard someone say, “What’s he carrying?” about the time that he came in the door with a heavy-hanging garbage bag in each hand. He gave them one big swing each, and plopped them right up on the big bare kitchen bar, as the delicious aromas lifted out into the room.

“Just a little something to nibble on,” he grinned, as we put down more bags and newspapers all along the bar and gathered around, and this is what it looked like as he upended those two big sacks of crawfish, still steamy and warm, and fragrant with Cajun spices:


And not one person stood back---I headed for the fridge to get cocktail sauce, ketchup, lemons and several kinds of hot sauce, as well as little paper plates for everybody to mix their dip to their own liking. We all shoved up our sleeves, grabbed lots of paper towels, fixed more cold drinks, and dug in.

I must say, even when we’d all washed in lemony suds and sat down to the REAL dinner, we were still drifting along on the rolling tide of all that unexpected gusto and feasting---that was one of the most fun parties I ever gave.

They didn’t ever get together, but we all sure enjoyed that attempt at matchmaking. 'Cept maybe those twenty pounds of mudbugs.


Tonja said...

There was a bar/restaurant that opened up here several years ago called Mudbugs. But, it didn't last long.
I don't particularly like them, but Don really does. When we go to New Orleans he always gets a pile of them.
I'm glad you still got to serve your nice dinner!

Kim Shook said...

The unexpected always makes the best parties - IF you are one to go with the flow. Flexibility is the best trait that a hostess can have. It sounds like a wonderful party!

Maggie McArthur said...

Caftans and crawfish? I am SO there!

bennie and patsy said...

We like them old mudbugs ate a lot of them when we lived in Texas. We had withdrawing pain from not gettig some of the best food we ever ate when we moved back to Memphis. But happy to get back to good old pork BBQ.LOL

racheld said...

And you'd have all been SOOO welcome!! The only place I've seen crawfish up here in any quantity is at a Chinese restaurant we enjoy. The crawfish are served in a big pan, right beside a matching pan of chicken feet.

And, I confess, like Sissy Covington in the Paxton stories, I have been known to get Chris to snap off a dozen or so of the cute little red claws, stash them in a napkin, and put them in the freezer for garnish for the next time I make a seafood dip for a party!!

And Bennie/Patsy---that Barbecue is the taste I long for---they TRY up here, and CALL it BBQ---but it's just not the same.

Chesapeake said...

I suspect I would disagree on the BBQ, being from NC originally, but almost anything else you eat is wonderful, Rachel! Still waiting for the paminnas to be roasted!

racheld said...

Chesapeake, Darlin'---I posted that whole step-by-step thing on Tuesday, Sept. 7---don't know how you missed it.

There was only one red pimiento---the other two you gave me were huge lovely green Anchos, and they just called out to be made into rellenos with queso and stuffing.

The Paminna Cheese was FINE, let me tell you, especially with a little side dish of the new batch of papaya preserves.

And the tiny jar of fig preserves was featured in the Patio, Papaya . . . post last week.

Chesapeake said...

Rachel, I'm waiting for Someone Else to roast the paminnas. I even found the Durkees, so I'm READY. Them peppers jest aren't, yet. I think the grill is under the MH, and that is in the shop, so he does have an excuse. I think.

racheld said...

AHHHH. 'Tis HIMSELF you're expecting to roast the paminnas---so you can make your OWN bowl of the ambrosia.

And you found the DURKEE'S---wonderful. It's powerful, scrumptious stuff. You're such a regular reader, I just couldn't fathom how you missed that whole great long novelette (with pictures).

Chronicle the process and send me pictures!

Kouign Aman said...

Rachel, you sure do know how to be a nice person.
It can be tough to go with the flow, when you have a whole party planned, prepared and ready, even when the flow is as delicious as crayfish, but you, you have it wired.
I was gonna say you could give lessons, but you already do. I took mine this morning, when I read your post. ;)