Oct 1, 2011

10 Days In Dominica: Day 1

My good friend Katie, from Priceless Adventure, is hosting a blogging challenge:

One post a day, for ten days, answering a question about life in Dominica each day.

What do you miss most about home?

Of course what I miss most are my friends and family.  Life moves on, whether we are there for it or not, and it is always bittersweet to miss celebrations, weddings, birthdays, and just good old daily life with those we love.

Besides family, what I miss most are these suckers:

Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs!

I miss the crabs because 1) they are a delicacy and are my favorite food of all time; 2) they are, for me, the embodiment of summer; and 3) they always mean treasured (and usually very hilarious) time with my large family.

"Crab Feasts"  in my mom's backyard, on my aunt's patio, or on the deck at the beach.  Step one: breaking out card tables, moving kitchen tables outdoors, and assembling a compound of newspaper-covered tables with a plethora of mismatched chairs on the deck or grass.  Next, collecting any item which can be used as a mallet/cracker/claw-opening device (for the weak) and placing it on top of the newspaper alongside the dishes of melted butter for dipping and the water bowls and paper towels for cleaning messy fingers (I am hardcore and prefer to just cover my claws with a piece of newspaper and smash it with my fist.  I also pass on the butter.  Just good ole crab meat for me.  And I never wash my fingers of Old Bay until I am finished... and that will take me at least two hours!).  And finally, the coup de grace: the fresh bushel of Old Bay seasoned local blue crabs, ready for barbaric picking.  This is one of my favorite family experiences.  Usually 7 to 25 of us gather around a table, the young and the old, enjoying the summer weather, delighting in the rewarding treat of crab meat extracted from an expertly picked crab.  The soundtrack is always the same: relatives sharing stories from their childhoods and pasts, many of which are classics, retold again and again.

There is always an annual crab feast, the joint birthday dinner held for my youngest sister, Margaret, and my mom, whose birthdays are just a day apart (August 20 and 22).  Growing up, my sisters and I were always allowed to choose the special meal we'd like for our birthday dinner.  Margaret always chooses, without fail (from age three until the present), "crabs and chocolate milk."  (Okay, so maybe not so much the chocolate milk anymore, but still the crabs!)

I also remember how excited I was when I first taught Charlie how to expertly "pick" a crab.  Now he's an old pro!

{In case you couldn't tell, I am very proud of my expert crab-picking skills.  It requires skill and patience to extract each small, but delicious piece of meat, and I will always be one of the last at the table (with Charlie and a few of my equally hardcore crab-picking uncles).  We eat all of the crabs and then move over to the "scraps" -- the poorly and barely picked crabs left by our less fanatical cousins/nieces (I think you know who you are) -- where we finish pickin' the crabs clean.}


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