December 24, 2013

Merry Crustacean

One of the great things about Christmas is the wealth of iconic symbols that have come to be associated with the holiday - jolly old Santa, wreaths of holly leaves, the Christmas tree - even a team of smelly reindeer.

It's just not Christmas until plastic recreations of these symbols, painstakenly produced by the thousands in the sweatshops of Asia, start popping up in shop windows and on the front lawns of suburbia all across America. I get weepy and nostalgic just thinking about it.

But none of these symbols says Christmas, of course, more than the bright red Dungeness Crab. You can hang your stockings by the chimney with as much care as you like, but at our house, the Christmas season hasn't really arrived until a couple of two-pounders are in the kitchen sink.

Now, I know what you're thinking. Many prefer the traditional pile of oysters for their yuletide meal. This too has become a staple in many parts of the country at Christmas:

And some eccentrics in places like the midwest even savor a Christmas ham or turkey. I guess there's no accounting for some tastes.

But I hold some traditions dear. In their universal acceptance, I find strength. A plate of sweet Dungeness crab by the Christmas tree

and I feel confident that no matter how this world is wracked by strife and upheaval, that some solid core values will endure.

Merry Crustacean, everyone.


  1. Yum yum! It is the season to munch and glug away happily.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family!!

  2. I heard it scream.

    May all beings be happy.

  3. Ah, tis the season for Santa Crab to scramble out of his deep sea pot and make his way across the oceans in his aqua blue speed boat with Rudolph the Red Nose sea urchin on port and Donner who looks a little green from lunch on starboard. Happy Christmas to all!

  4. Merry Christmas to O and Missus

  5. Those Dungeness crabs seem like they should have bigger claws, IMHO.

  6. They way things are around here freshwater crustaceans may be the only option - have a great holiday

  7. Thanks for all the Christmas cheer, folks.

    Baydog, you've spotted a critical design flaw in the Dungeness crab. Sadly, the claws aren't much bigger than the largest legs, which results in sharply diminished edible yield as crab size is reduced.

    My wife and I have made a careful analysis of the problem. Considering that crab volume varies directly with the cube of claw diameter, we've concluded that the Dungeness crab reaches critical mass at two pounds and that any individuals smaller than that yield insufficient reward per newton-meter of applied work.

    Our study was published in the November, 2010 issue of Nature, Claw Diameter As A Determining Factor in the Marketability of Dungeness Crab, O Docker et al, pp 137-153.

  8. I think Dungeness is my favorite kind of crab.

    When I was living back east, I liked Spider crab (which the marketers have renamed 'Alaskan King Crab') and Maryland softshell crabs.

    I hadn't had Spider crabs for years, and a local fish counter had some huge ones the other day when we picked up the fellow in the photo at the top of this post. So we got some of each.

    We had a leg to leg crab crack-off the other night, and I'm afraid the Dungeness edged out the Spider. It was sweeter and tasted fresher.

    The giant Spider legs are easier to eat - less shell cracking for more meat - but the Dungeness are worth the extra newton-meters per gram, to me at least.

    1. We had very little in the way of local blue crabs this year; the population crashed and the prices were up in the stratosphere all year long.

      Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, O Docker!

  9. I used to eat crabs, now I love them. :)

    Happy New Year, O Docker! Wishing you health throughout 2014 and of course, beyond.