Friday, July 12, 2013

Free Range Friday ~ Land Crabs, Baby!

It's summertime and the land crabs are busy! The grass was cut yesterday across from the airport, exposing hundreds of land crabs and their dwellings to the light of day and sight of anyone happening by. Their scurrying movements catch the attention of drivers and walkers both, as if the ground were moving in a dark shadow dance.

Dozens of land crabs on the claw
As long as I've lived here, I've watched boys and girls and men and women, sometimes out on the sides of the road, sometimes asking permission to come into my yard, their gigging sticks in one hand and a bag in the other, going after land crabs. I've heard the recipe and been chided because I've yet to taste what even Craig Clairborne considers a delicacy.

I've battled land crabs back down the stairs at the small hotel I managed on St. Croix (to the disgust of Alex, my Trinidadian friend, who couldn't understand why I'd sweep a perfectly good meal into the street). Here on Culebra, I've chased, cornered and evicted them from my indoor but outdoor bathroom, connived with two who made it in my door, scuttling behind the bed, the stove, where ever a hiding place presented, using brooms and walking sticks and a few yipping yelps to get them back to where they belong. But I've still not eaten one. No, I have not.

I grew up in the land of blue crabs. I've caught them and cooked them, bits of extracted meat drawn through a bowl of melted butter, a bit of nirvana in a world of chaos. Land crabs, I've feared, would taste as dusty as they look. I've been told more than thrice that this is folly, misinformed thinking, not true. I've yet to find out for sure.

Back to Craig Clairborne: "While the flesh of land crabs is as sweet as that of blue crabs and just as easy to boil or steam, the land crabs are somewhat smaller and when cooked, it is a bit more tedious to extract the meat." Smaller, Craig? I beg to differ. I've seen land crabs bigger than any blue crab I was ever delighted to lay eyes on. Land crabs so big they haunt my dreams and not in a good way. are Craig Clairborne and maybe the land crabs on St. Bart's are polite enough to stay smaller.

Well, what do you do with them, you might ask. Here is a complete guide to dealing with land crabs, from the St. John Beach Guide, including recipes. Want to fancy up? Try Antillian Crab Pilaf, from the French Antilles.

Let me know how that works out. Buen provecho!

In case you need a recipe for what to do with all of those extra corks? There are lots of projects on the web with clever ideas for using leftover wine corks, but I've not seen any like this one that I saw yesterday.

More Culebra utility column decor

Whatever you do, enjoy your day; there are no re-runs.

Have a frolicsome Friday! Do something festive.

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