"You're not going to drink the juice are you?" the woman behind the counter asked.
"Hmmm. Probably not," I said.
"Then order a male," she said. "They're bigger. More meat." I'd already asked her if I would need instructions to eat the local fresh rock crabs touted on the sign in the window. She'd told me no, that they would crack it, and all I would have to do is pick out the meat.
With the plastic forks that the restaurant uses, that was easier said than done. Three large dinner napkins later, I'd forsaken the fork and resorted to using my fingers, sucking the smaller bits of manna-like meat right out of the shell like a shipwrecked castaway. Around the time I finished the legs, the woman (it's her husband who catches the fish) stopped by my table to see how I liked it. "It's fabulous," I said, wiping my chin. "But is all this edible?" I pointed to the stuff swimming around in the body cavity.
"Oh, sure," she said. "Some people eat everything." I didn't quite believe her, but tried one of a pair of meatier bits. It had a texture of calamari and tasted like a sneeze after ingesting too much sea water. This bit of information on the web claims those are the gills, and that they are the only part of the rock crab that's inedible.
I'm hoping for pleasant sea-faring hallucinations (where I imagine myself as a selkie or a manatee or a mermaid) rather than a liver transplant. Meanwhile, I've had a bowl of yogurt.
And I'm wondering about the juice. Is the juice better in a female crab? Why the question about drinking the juice? And how does anyone eat these things with a plastic fork? If I live, I'm going to fashion a little carrying case for a cocktail fork and carry it in my purse. There's a reason Neptune carried a trident, I guess.
The image at the top of the post is the painting "The Apotheosis of Washington" from the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol building.