I am a huge food fan. I love to cook, and I love cooking for people even more. Alton Brown is my hero, Anthony Bourdain is my idol and one of my favorite material possessions in the universe is my cast-iron skillet. One of my life goals is to go to El Bulli in Spain, just to experience the 8-hour dinner ordeal first hand. Can't make it to Spain? Maybe (not likely) you can get a reservation at Thomas Keller's French Laundry in California. A super exclusive and critically acclaimed establishment, The French Laundry features dishes never before created, and a rotating menu of wonder. This man is a food magician (he even was a consultant on Ratatouille!).
I discovered a new food blog today via Slashfood, called French Laundry at Home, where a very eager and earnest woman named Carol attempts cooking every recipe from the French Laundry official cookbook. The dishes are gorgeous, and her descriptions are even better. From her post about a soft shell crab dish...
With my left hand, I picked up one of the crabs from the platter and held him from behind. In my right hand, I held the scissors. As I got the scissors close to the crab's face, it started twitching and writhing, and I couldn't do it. I don't know if you've ever held or touched a soft-shell crab before, but instead of a skeletal underbelly and a hard shell on top, the underbelly is not very hard, and felt as thin as a shrimp shell. The top shell feels like thin leather, or perhaps fish skin -- probably the same thickness/texture as halibut. So, when the crab started moving around, I could feel his insides moving, too.
I put him back on the platter and paced my tiny, tiny kitchen trying to talk myself off the ledge. I saw a bottle of Ketel One on my wine table and thought maybe a shot of liquid courage might help, but I didn't do it. Instead, I grabbed a pair of tongs and used those to pick up the crab. I opened the scissors and let out a "aaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii'msosorry" as I cut its face off. Things started to ooze out of the front of his head, and I just repeated a mantra of "thisisgross-thisisgross-thisisgross-AAAAACCCCCKKKKK" as I cut off the large claws, then removed the remaining legs. I did this for each crab to get all the cutting overwith at once.
Chuck Palahniuk ain't got nothin' on Carol. Vivid and insightful, this blog is definitely one for the feed reader.