I’m trying something new for me. “New”, but also something I have been thinking about for some time now. Food writing. I have been reading Will Write for Food by Dianne Jacob. I’m only 25 pages in and no expert (as I never fail to tell you) but in Chapter 1 there is a writing exercise and I wanted to share what I wrote with you here. Because well, why not…. be nice though 🙂
Today’s the day that I look forward to all year. It might sound a little insensitive to say that the reason I have been counting down the days until our biggest (not to mention wildest) family gathering is because of the food, but hey, just don’t tell Grandma.
As we drive up the steep, windy road that is their driveway we turn a curve and suddenly I see the rows of worn, well-used picnic tables covered in newspaper. The rolling hills in the distance serve as the perfect backdrop for a feast. The uncles are playing horseshoes nearby, but that’s not where I’m headed.
I am the first one to sit down at the table and the last one to get up. I used to get teased a lot about it by well-intentioned family and maybe the fat girl in me should be embarrassed, but I don’t mind anymore. With age I now decisively believe that it says a lot about a person if they don’t like to pick crabs. As Julia would say, “People who love to eat are always the best people”. So alas, every year I sit at that table as long as I can, savoring every little bite as my pile of scraps grows bigger and bigger.
Despite the open air and expansive land, the smell of Old Bay swarms around you. I grab the one in front of me that’s caked in the orange seasoning. Jiggle it- it’s a heavy one! Then begins the mindless task of picking a crab. To me it is like riding a bike. A task that requires no thought at all so much so that it is a difficult thing to teach to newcomers.
I carefully remove each claw as to not rip out any meat. I like it all inside my two halves in a neat little, meat-packed package. I peel back the apron and swiftly remove the curly, winding innards, leaving a little bit of the yellow “mustard”, as mom calls it. I like the strong flavor.
The first bite is a fat, fluffy little chunk. Not too squishy like the inferior lobster. Just right, with a hint of salty spice. No butter. Don’t ruin it, now. I stick my little fingers in to each crack and crevice so I don’t miss one bite of the sweet meat. Dad always inspects my piles. Can’t disappoint.
Time goes by as I blindly go through crab after crab with ease enjoying each delicate lump while holding a conversation with the other two last standing crab feast champions- a cousin who always tries to eat more crabs than me (ha!) and another cousin’s new boyfriend. Clearly, he’s passed my test. I approve. I notice my lips burning and a cut on my finger is stinging. I hadn’t realized that I cut myself until now. Even I have to surrender sometime. Pass me the paper towels. And where did my beer go?