Saturday, July 22, 2006

A Bittersweet Moment

The end of soft shell crab season depresses me, yet I try not to let my darkening mood interfere with one last thrilling fling.

With sea creatures already on my mind, I skipped ShopRite and drove to the not-all-that-nearby fish store first thing this morning. I think that deep down I knew what I'd be buying, but I faked myself out and went through all the motions once I arrived and had a bored-looking clerk tapping his foot and waiting for my order. The selection of whole fish was meager, the shrimp were astronomically expensive, and there wasn't a squid in sight. Sure, the crabs were $5.99 each, but this was the end of June and it was my last chance. I took it.

I've been talking to people about soft shell crabs, and I'm always surprised to find that some poor souls don't love them more than they could ever properly express. My mom won't touch one. She's "allergic." A person I've been doing some work with said she's a blue-crab gal. (Can't she be both?) And even my friend Ads, who I always thought would eat anything, happily, was telling me that they disturb him. (In Ads's case, at least, I feel confident I could make a convert. I think he just got the wrong dish on the wrong night.) On the other hand, most of my family adores them. My sister even put them on a short list of her favorite foods for some email-forward thingie.

Tonight I broiled the crabs and served them with a sauce made with white wine, shrimp stock, lemon juice, and garlic scapes. The garnish, in addition to chives, was the first two ripe grape tomatoes from our garden, which I sliced thin (there were only two of them) and tossed with a gremolata of garlic, parsley and lemon zest.

Is it almost May 2007?

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