Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

No Leg to Stand on for Crab Lover

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

No Leg to Stand on for Crab Lover

Article excerpt

I FELT guilt pangs when I saw a TV news report about animal lovers who are trying to end the practice of boiling live lobsters.

A woman from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said: "No compassionate person would boil an animal alive."

That's something I hadn't thought about before because I have never boiled a lobster and hardly ever eat them.

Although they taste good, they look like giant insects. So do shrimp and crayfish, which I also avoid.

As I once told a Creole friend from New Orleans, where they love to chomp on crayfish and other crawly creatures: "You people eat things that we'd call the Orkin man for."

So why should I feel guilt about lobsters when I don't eat them?

Because it got me thinking about stone crab legs, which rank near the top of my favorite food list.

For years, I've taken vacations in Florida and almost always on the Gulf Coast. That coast not only has fewer New Yorkers but the gulf is where the stone crab legs are harvested.

I don't eat them in restaurants because they cost too much, and it isn't as much fun.

Instead, I go to a small, old-time Florida fishing village where local stone crab leg fishermen bring their catch.

I buy a huge sack of the legs, which have been cooked, and the whole family sits around that evening whacking the thick shells with hammers and gorging ourselves on the firm, sweet stone crab meat.

Besides being delicious, stone crab legs don't look at all like big insects. Maybe an entire stone crab does, but I don't know because I've never seen one. Few people have.

That's because the people who put out the stone crab traps don't keep the entire creature.

What I'm going to say now is not for the faint of heart and the queasy of stomach.

The stone crab fishermen just break off one of the creature's legs and toss the rest of the crab back in the water.

Wait, please. While that might sound cruel and insensitive, it isn't as bad as you might think.

In a miracle of nature, the stone crab doesn't die. …

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