Growing up in a Filipino household, one of my favorite memories is eating freshly steamed blue crabs with my mom. She would buy several of them when the Filipino store’s shipment would come in, on Fridays I believe. We would have white rice just cooked from the rice cooker, and a sauce she’d make out of vinegar, garlic and peppers.
I didn’t have a care in the world, the same “cares” that I think about now – were those crabs treated humanely? Were they sustainable at the time? Did they feel a lot of pain being steamed alive in my mom’s pot of boiling water? Is it true that they actually scream when boiled? I probably would.
Nope. It was just little me and my mom, a huge plate of crabs between us, eating, laughing, eating, talking, dipping in vinegar sauce, eating, laughing, pieces of what used to be a living, breathing crab FLYING carelessly out of our plates and mouths.
Today, grown-up me has pretty much only eaten crab without the shell. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the taste of it, but I feel kind of guilty eating something that’s looking back at you with those small, beady eyes. Also, they look like giant sea bugs, and that doesn’t exactly whet my appetite, unless you know, you’re into giant sea bugs, then by all means.
Last month, we went to a Blue Angels Air Show in Baltimore, which was awesome. A word of warning, it’s very loud. I didn’t think to bring ear protectors or earplugs, so the whole show consisted of my husband and I covering our children’s ears each time there was a maneuver above us.
After the show, we were hot, tired and hungry…a bad combination.
We looked for something close to the Air Show and based our decision on parking, yelp reviews and which places didn’t look packed. On the outside was a sign that read, “Hot Steamed Crabs!” Hmm, ok.
They were able to seat us right away. As we’re walking to our seat, I noticed all the tables have mallets and brown paper. Oh and crabs. Lots and lots of them. Honestly, it didn’t look appetizing, but I will pull through. We decide we’re not going to get crabs (haha, the power of the written word), but instead we order fried scallops, the fried sampler platter and the steamed sampler platter. Yes, at this point, I feel like a big, fat food snob for not ordering crabs at a crab place.
Halfway through the meal, my 8-year-old asks me, “mom, can we order crabs, please?”
OK. FINE. Let’s. Do. This.
We order a few pounds of crab and when they arrive, I’m thinking what now? Instinct sets in, and my daughter and I grab the mallet and give it a go. She says she loves it! All of it. Yummy, yummy sweet, savory crabby meat! We have a “moment.” With steamed crabs, but whatever. It was still a moment. And suddenly, I’m taken back to those carefree moments with my mom, only I’m now my mom and my daughter is me. We eat, laugh, and talk, and much like it did 20 some odd years ago, crab parts flew.
Now if only they had that vinegar sauce.