too many words by laura lemay

sea bugs

Its dungeness crab season out here in the West, and I’ve been thinking its time to go find a live one. You can get cooked crab pretty much at any supermarket, but the cooked ones are kind of slimy and yuck. To get the really amazing taste of an ultrafabulous dungeness crab you need to cook it live.

Entirely on impulse yesterday I decided to cruise my local supermarkets to see if anyone actually had live crabs. I wasn’t in a mood to do a lot of driving (30 miles to the coast, an equal distance to the local giant asian market where I knew they’d have some), but five or so miles wasn’t so bad. I didn’t do so good at two Whole Foods, a Lunardi’s or a Gene’s Fine Foods. I finally dropped into an Albertson’s, which is the worst kind of megasupermarket I hate. I discovered that they didn’t have live dungeness crab, but they did have live maine lobster.

Well, hell. I haven’t had a lobster since the last time I went home to Boston. Crab may be in season and cheap right now, but I was shopping on impulse and I decided that a lobster would do just fine.

The counter clerk was scared to death of the lobster in the tank and even more frightened when I demanded the one that gestured the most angrily when he reached into the tank with the special lobster retrieval fork. After a few unsuccessful reaches into the tank to catch my chosen lobster, I finally put the counter clerk out of his misery, said “here, let me do it,” and reached in and grabbed the angry crustacean around the body behind the claws as I was taught in Boston when I was five (I mean really, its not hard). The lobster thrashed but slipped easily into the bag. “The more they fight, the tastier they are,” I explained to the clerk, who gave me a horrified look. I think he was used to the meat that lies still and pink under the counter.

Eric, who is vegetarian, was pretty disgusted with the whole thing and made mutterings about “giant sea bugs.” But he had to work late yesterday so I could cook and eat my bug in peace. I boiled it and served it with melted butter, as God intended, and it was delicious.