Eating blue crabs is an integral part of Maryland’s culture. And for my mother it approaches the level of religious event. So I thought I’d pick her brain (pun intended) for some newbie tips.
10. Everyone has their own method for picking steamed crabs. Everyone thinks their method is the best. Let a couple of people show you how to pick and then develop your own best method.
9. Do not expect to get up from the table with a clean shirt, so don’t dress to impress when going to a crab feast.
8. Get your beverages lined up before you sit down ( at least one frosty cold beer is essential)…. once your get your hands all messy you are not going to want to get up to get something to drink. Depending on the spice factor of your crabs you may need several beverages. If you are drinking soda an extra glass of ice at the ready is helpful.
7. A roll of paper towels must be on the table. You need a knife and a crab mallet. Some people like a sharp knife, but a dinner knife works great because you can dig the meat out of the claws and eat it right off of the knife.
6. A bucket or trashcan at your side for the shells helps keep your picking space tidy. You can dispose of your shells after each crab is picked.
5. The size of the crabs you get affects the picking experience. Large crabs are costly but are easier to pick and have more meat so you will need to pick fewer of them. If you are going for the full blown crab picking experience mediums are cheaper and keep you in your seat stuffing your face with small bits of delectable tastes for an extended period of time. For some this also extends the drinking experience.
4. Go to the bathroom before you sit down. As with getting something to drink… you will not want to get up to go once your hands are coated with crab spice.
3. Restaurant vs. home. Eating crabs in a restaurant or crab house means you have no stinky mess to clean up and someone else can keep the beverages flowing. Sometimes that is okay. But for a full fledged experience you have to eat them at home with family and friends…. and preferably cook them yourself. At home you do have to deal with the mess afterward, but you can take your time eating…. even take a break, digest a little and come back later. The atmosphere is more relaxing and if you have small kids it is definitely a plus to do the feasting at home. And if you have leftovers cold crabs are also a delight.
2. Don’t smash the claws. Although everyone has their own method it is essential that you not follow the example of people who smash the claws. Place the blade of your knife of the claw, tap gently with the mallet until a single crack appears in the claw. You can then snap the claw into two pieces and extract the meat without a lot of little pieces of shell.
1. Some people provide corn on the cob, burgers and hot dogs or even fried chicken at a crab feast. These are fast fillers… eat at the risk of dimishing your crab gusto. And don’t forget that after a crab feast you will need to top things off with something sweet. Ice cream is a traditional favorite.