Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Drew and I have an ongoing tradition of spontaneously purchasing fresh crab for dinner on our way home from our approximately bi-monthly winter town trips. As the season approaches, while we are heading south after a long day of errands, I will fantasize about that sweet, ocean flesh dipped in butter as we race past the King Salmon exit. I will mentally check my internal calendar: Is it December yet? January?
Once, we passed a sign along 4th Street in Eureka, which through downtown is Hwy 101 South, for Fresh Crab at the waterfront. We intuited our way to the docks, and found a boat with fisher people selling cooked and cleaned crab, neatly packaged for taking home. And at the King Salmon exit I mentioned earlier, there is a storefront like something from Cape Cod, wooden and painted green, with a friendly man behind the counter wearing orange, rubber overalls and black rubber boots, the fishing boat parked right out back. They used to put out a sign on the highway, which would remind us they were there, and we'd stop in and buy three crabs for dinner, and invite someone over when we got home.
On our way back from the cabin, we were headed south after an already long travel day, but there was that sign: "Fresh Crab: Dock D, Woodley Island Marina". "Where's that?" I asked Drew. "Down here" he said as he turned right at the next light. We pulled into the marina, and parked as the sky was blushing sunset. A large yellow fishing boat bedecked in white Christmas lights looked cheerful with a fabric banner reading "Fresh Crab". Ella was excited about the boat and the very mellow dog sitting on deck. She became even more excited when she realized we were bringing crabs home!
That night, we boiled our water, and they met their watery death, but not before Drew accidentally dropped one and it tried to get away. Ella became very animated, and said "The cwab was (s)crambling!" After they were cooked, she insisted in being involved in the cleaning process, by dragging her stool over to the sink, and hesitantly touching the orange shells, until she realized they were immobile, and proceeded to handle them profusely. The most interesting thing to me was how she said she felt when we were putting the crabs into the hot water: "What are we doing to the cwab?" We explained that we were asking it to give its life so we could eat it. And she responded by saying "Mommy, I feel a little sad about this", or "Aww, poor wittle cwabs". We got to emphasize our thanks again at the table the following evening, appreciating the crabs for their service to us.
I always appreciate the proximity of locally harvested food, available directly from the source who collected it here on the north coast. I feel very fortunate to have such relationships with the food I eat, especially so when it comes to meat of all kinds.