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Slightly Corked

The Jaws Of Godzilla


I’ve been having trouble with my wife again. Lately, when people have invited us over for dinner, they’ve asked, “Do you like Dungeness crab?” Before I get to send out a secret spousal communication, discretely transmitted by a kick under the table, she goes, “I love Dungeness crab.”

“In that case”, they say, “we’ll get lots and have it as an entrée instead of a first course.” Signed, sealed, delivered.

I have a few problems with crab. Primarily accessibility. Getting at the meat is not easy. A knife and fork bounces off a crab like a BB gun off a tank. The only practical place to eat one is your shop, and make sure you’re wearing overalls and protective eye wear, armed with the tools normally used for safe cracking. Definitely you’ll need a vice, drill, saw, pliers, welding gloves, torch and in the event of a larger crab, a come-along.

Another problem is the lack of colour coding. Both meat and shell are white, leaving those of us who haven’t been to the optometrist lately at a distinct disadvantage, especially in a dark dining room, and when you’re serving something as ugly as crab, it better be dark.

Since you’ll be eating a lot of shell anyway, I say go for it and use what’s known in etiquette manuals as “Jaws of Godzilla”, where you eat shell and all with great relish, interspersing crunching sounds with an enthusiastic chorus of, “Delicious, simply delicious.” That way you never get invited back.

If you were subjected to a crab only diet you would quickly die of starvation simply because every calorie of energy provided takes two calories of energy to extract.

It is possible to extract crabmeat from the shells, but it’s best left to the professionals. These unfortunate people are called crab meat extractors, which is a profession that ranks #2 on the Undesirable Occupation List right behind #1 which is bull semen collector, a profession equally as messy as crab extraction but which provides advantage at a cocktail party when someone makes the mistake of asking what you do for a living.

Compounding this problem is the hostess never being able to locate the crackers and crab forks. It’s one of the few times a chopstick would come in handy, it could be used to poke the meat out!

Another flaw with crab is they’re bottom feeders. Every bullhead that swims over goes, “Ooh yuck. Look at that ugly crab. Hey, watch this.” And boing! Yet another projectile of hot steamy bullhead dung bounces off Mr. Crab.

Considering a crab’s diet consists primarily of fish excrement, it should come as no surprise that their guts are green and resemble the phlegm balls hawked out by old, tobacco chewing Uncle Wilbur.

People who serve crab always apologize. “This might get a little messy,” they say. How very perceptive. Steamed crab is bad enough, but when it comes to a messy evening, nothing tops Chinese crab. That’s where the crab, in shell, is thrown in a wok with lots of oil, garlic and soy sauce. (Don’t forget the green onion.) This would be bad enough if you had been allowed to bring your vice, but without it, crab parts go squirting off your plate in all directions. Across the table, on the floor, in your shirt pocket and, yes, in your wine glass, which now sports an oil slick.

At this point, when your hands couldn’t get any slippery if you dipped them in a pot of oil, and as aromatic as Uncle Wilbur’s phlegm ball, your cell phone rings. Automatically you reach into your pocket thereby ruining your expensive new slacks, never mind your cell phone, which will be accompanying you to the shower.

Finally, slipping and sliding, you make your way to the door where you try to deliver a friendly little hug to the hostess but slide off and bang your head on an umbrella stand. At this point your gracious wife says, “That was so delicious, I enjoyed myself so much.” And they say, “Next time we invite you over, we’ll be sure to have crab.”

So you hop into the car, everyone waves and says good night for maybe the fifth time, and you drive off. Right into the woodpile because your hands, the same hands you’ve washed five times, are still so slippery you couldn’t turn the steering wheel.

While you’re waiting on the tow truck to pull you out of the woodpile, might I recommend a tasty French white that will go nicely with the crab still clinging to your shirt, the Paul Mas Viognier at $13.95.

Delbert is the co-proprietor at Mahle House.

About the author: The Boss

The Boss

Marina is Editor of TAKE 5 Magazine.

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