More than Christmas, more than Thanksgiving, heck, probably even more than my own birthday (unless you could find a way to make a giant cake of its meat for me), there is no occasion to which I anticipate more each year than our annual family Crabfest. I’ve been offline the past week or so, because I was away stuffing my face at a variety of family gatherings. It was wonderful, as usual, to see everyone and to have a chance to eat some things that are not normally a part of my daily diet.
That’s the thing about getting together each year to pick crabs and to indulge in lovely hunks of white tender-sweet meat. It’s not just about the eating (although that is important). It is also about the following of a family tradition and about adhering to the pattern of the season. There’s certain rules: the ‘right’ potato salad to have at this time of year, making family-favorite sweet treats, and, of course, discussion about everyone’s own preferred methodology for extract crab from its shell.
This year, we had some new inductees into the annual family event with a few nieces who had not participated previously. One of them embraced the eating (fun) part of the crabfest, but not the cleaning (work) part. At her age, we had my youngest sister at the table cleaning out our claws for the meat, something she still thinks of as highly unfair, even to this day. Her new beau, however, who was another addition this year, confidently held his own and will surely have a place at the table again next year. He’s an ‘accumulator’ rather than an ‘eat as you go’ type, which might upset the balance in the group.
Another niece who had enjoyed sampling the wares in the past, decided to take a pass this year. She’s at the fussy toddler stage, so hopefully this is just a phase for her. Another niece was very squeamish about touching the animals and wouldn’t even try a smidgen of a taste. She had also been to the wharf in Southeast Washington, DC with us to pick up our ‘harvest,’ and I wonder if the connection between seeing the animals there and then on the table where we were cleaning them, was a bit too much for her. She’s a bit older, and I’m sort of surprised as she’s of an age to understand that we do kill and eat lots of our food.
As usual, there was laughter, chatter, attempted crabmeat thefts, and spilled blood. I returned to New York with several crab-related injuries (stings like the blazes when Old Bay ends up inside of a cut or nick), not the least of which was a nice slice on my thumb from cleaning up a glass Pyrex cup in which butter had been melted. Part of the lip of the cup had sheared off, which was not evident when I went to wash it out, and I ran the sharp edge alongside the outside of my finger. Fortunately, with a clean bandage to stop the bleeding, this minor setback did not hinder me from eating any of the fluffy white pile of meat that I’d pulled from the shells of this year’s really lovely batch of crabs.