cygnoir.net

cygnoir.net

a letter about crabs

Dear family:

As I write this, the MSG is hacking apart crab legs with the blunt side of a cleaver. He just accidentally sprayed me with crab bits. Oops.

I cried today as we killed the fresh crabs we bought in Half Moon Bay, a small town down the coast. I know, that’s got to be a cliché, but I’m sharing it with you so you know I haven’t lost all of my compassion as a big city girl.

Our recipe is Singapore Chili Crab, which we are, as I have stated before, making with crabs caught this morning off the coast, alive until just an hour or so ago.

The MSG and I drove down in his little red car with the top off. We picnicked on the beach, sandwiches handmade on Italian herb bread from my bread-maker, braised beef cheek slices topped with fresh opal basil from his herb garden as well as smoky onion garlic aioli that we made this morning. We also brought pluots (plum-apricots) and some brie and multigrain crackers.

After lunching, we explored some beautiful tide pools and saw tons of tiny crabs, which sparked our interest in purchasing some fresh crabs instead of fresh tuna from the harbor. On our way to the harbor, we stopped at a fresh vegetable stand and bought English peas, red garlic, red onions, and a bunch of beautiful bananas for my lunches this week. We’ll make pasta tonight for a side with the crab, and include the English peas (which I shelled just a little while ago).

It is exquisite to be so mindful of what one eats. This weekend, the MSG and I saw “Super Size Me”, which is a documentary about a man who eats nothing but McDonald’s food for three square meals a day for a month. He starts the experiment in the peak of health, and ends it in … well, you’ll just have to see it. Needless to say, it left us both utterly grossed out. I highly recommend the film.

I am being mindful right now, as I was when I burst into tears as the MSG dropped the live crabs into a pot of boiling water to kill them. I tried not to anthropomorphize them as they rode home with us, small claws scraping futilely at the plastic THANK YOU bags that surrounded them, but it was difficult. Even more difficult is the realization that we, as a culture, are completely blind to the creature-to-food process, prizing ignorance and avoidance above all else.

I think back to being a child in Italy, and a plastic bucket of freshly-killed rabbit viscera, and then again to being an older child in Chicago, and breaking my year-long vegetarian stint with McDonald’s food. Food, if you could call it that. I’ll take my Singapore Chili Crab over that, any day.

love, halsted.

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I acknowledge that I live and work on stolen Cowlitz, Clackamas, Atfalati, and Kalapuya land.
I give respect and reverence to those who came before me.

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