Friday, March 27, 2009

Florida Stone Crabs: An apology

I travel on my stomach: I've never been to a country without learning how to ask for something I've never eaten before[1]. On my recent trip to the US I tried the local delicacy[2]: the Florida stone crab claws.

They were delicious. I must have looked like a slavering monster wrenching the all-too-easily identifiable limbs to pieces before devouring them (sharing a table with a vegetarian always alerts my to my deficiencies in both moral and actual fibre.) It never occurred to me to ask what they did with the rest of the crab.

Watching QI the other night, I found out. Apparently the stone crab can lose its claws and they grow back: a feature that stone crab fishers exploit. Apparently it is recommended that they leave the crab with one claw so it can defend itself against anything that wants to eat the rest of it (how thoughtful!)

This made me feel worse than if my crab had been rapidly dispatched and popped in a pot: some poor maimed crustacean was shuffling around the Florida seabed whilst I nommed its no-longer-appended-appendage.

I now feel even worse: research by Queen's University Belfast has found that the stone crab's hermity brethren can feel and remember pain. Which means that there's a good chance my poor claw donor saw the net coming and thought, "Oh no. Not again." Only in crab, obviously.

Florida stone crabs: I'm sorry. I hope the claws are growing back nicely. If you'd like me to come and open some oysters for you, I'd be happy to help. It's probably no comfort but you were delicious.

[1] Most surprisingly delicious thing I've had - stuffed pigeon in Egypt. Most amazing street food: brik in Tunisia.

[2] yes, they have them. Stop sniggering my judgemental European friends.

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