My elderly neighbour took me to a local stream to fish for ecrevisses (fresh-water crayfish), a local delicacy (!).
You set a series of crafty baskets, baited with a fish head, on the bed of the stream, and within minutes the crayfish appear from under stones and weeds, and scuttle across the riverbed to enter the baskets. Some of them appear slightly suspicious at first, but with their salivary glands working overtime, they usually succumb to greed, and wriggle in to the traps. A trap will attract up to ten of the rather repellent palm-sized creatures. None of those trapped seem to have the presence of mind to warn others to stay away, though.
Taken home in a bucket they are still alive when they reach the scullery, to have some rather painful looking genital equipment extricated prior to the boil in a cauldron of simmering stock. It’s all seemed a bit gruesome to me, but I held my nerve and avoided calling out “mais elles vivent toujours!” like a wimp.
When boiled to death, they quickly turned a startling beetroot red colour, whence comes the idiom “rouge comme une ecrevisse”. Only the claws yield much (very little) edible flesh, but at least they are free, if you have a river-fishing licence.
Perhaps, Glenn, you can enlighten me about what it is that has to extracted before cooking, and why it has to be done while the pathetic thing is still alive? It looks barbarous to a city-boy, and spoils one’s enjoyment of the tit-bit rather.