December 6, 2009 § 4 Comments
What started with smiles and excitement ended in hysterics and screams.
Two weeks ago I met my sister’s friend R who often goes crabbing. I was fascinated with the concept and wanted to tag along on any future excursions if possible. He gamely agreed and told me that he would be going on December 5th and invited me to come. I can’t even begin to describe how excited I was. I told all my friends, triple checked that the trip was still on, and bought a new (used) jacket while I eagerly anticipated Dec. 5th.
Finally, the day arrived. Today morning I woke up, revved up and excited to go crabbing. I bundled up in my warmest clothes and met R and his friends in San Francisco. We drove to the pier and had a grand old time, taking in the beautiful view of the bay and city lights. Although it was cold and involved a lot of simply sitting and waiting around, it was so exciting every time we pulled up a net. I saw three kinds of crabs (Dungeness, Rock, Red), starfish, seals, and a tiny little jellyfish. I also played with lots of baby crabs and took pictures of them before tossing them back into the ocean. My fellow crabbers were congenial and we had fun taking Disney quizzes and trading stories. We only caught about six but in retrospect, that was a blessing in disguise. We actually trapped a lot of crabs (most of them were too small to take) and two HUGE Dungeness crabs but we had to throw them all back because we didn’t have a commercial fishing license.
After a few hours, we went to eat some chicken which I thought was funny because we used chicken as bait for the crabs. You would think we would want to go eat the crabs but no, we preferred chicken. I had a lot of fun listening to their crazy college stories and hearing about my sister in college. I then got dropped off at the Bart station with two crabs in a bag to take home and eat. If I had to do it over again, I would have given the crabs away to anyone in the vicinity and left with untarnished memories of my first amazing crabbing experience. Unfortunately I didn’t and I went home with my two crabs.
It was my first time dealing with live crabs so I had to look up how to clean and cook the crabs. I watched a bunch of videos and browsed multiple websites before deciding that I was going to boil them and then clean them instead of the other way around. I didn’t want to have do things like rip their heads off while they were still alive and so was planning to just rinse them and then throw them into a boiling pot of water. But then I read an article saying that it was much more humane to kill them before putting them into the water so I decided to go that route instead. BIG mistake.
I was already distressed just thinking about killing them and I did not want to hurt them. By this point I did not even want to eat them but I also didn’t want their deaths to be in vain so I continued the process. I tried to bonk their heads with a plastic ladle but they were still alive and moving around. It was so horrifying to see them struggling so I started screaming and crying out in distress. I tried to get Allan to kill them for me which he eventually did but at first, refused. I told him that I had gotten too attached to the crabs and did not want to kill him. He told me to just keep them as pets and then eat them after they died. I yelled at him for the suggestion (of eating a pet), and pleaded with him to put the crabs out of their misery. I literally had to leave the kitchen while he bonked their heads. I have to say, a plastic ladle was not the right tool because even after multiple bonks, they were still moving.
I couldn’t stand the sight of them struggling with their dented heads so I just sucked it up and dropped them into the boiling water. I wanted to cry as I saw their last struggling moments. Thankfully the water was really hot so they did not last long but I still feel like such a cruel, evil, power abuser. Later when I took the crabs out of the water, I almost threw up when I saw that some of their legs had fallen off in the process and were sitting at the bottom of the pot. Not only did I take these crabs away from their home but I also aided in the denting of their shells, killed them by boiling them alive, AND THEN didn’t even let them have a decent death with all their limbs still attached.
There is no way I am eating those crabs. To be honest, I’m surprised and not surprised at my reaction. I’m a pretty empathetic person and have a huge soft spot for animals. However, I am also a bit of a realist and a food enthusiast who always wants to try new things. Whenever Allan said that I couldn’t rough it and live on a farm and kill my own live chickens, fish, etc., I always argued and said that I could. Because I thought I could. I thought I could separate my head/heart from my body and do what needed to be done, even if it meant ruthlessly tearing an animal, limb to limb.
But.. I can’t. In my defense, if it was really necessary I think I could do it. Today’s experience was extra traumatizing because it was an unnecessary death. Did I need to eat those crab to survive? No. Would my life be terribly deprived if I did not kill those crabs? Not at all. I always thought I could butcher my own fish but looking at my crab reaction, I doubt it. I don’t think this experience will cause me to abstain from eating crab or going crabbing again, but it will definitely stop me from cooking and killing my own crab for an indefinite amount of time. I don’t want to say forever because its possible that by some strange stroke of fate I get stranded on an island where crabs are the only food source which then I would have to get over my phobia. But until then, I don’t see myself killing and cooking crabs.
In conclusion, it really was traumatizing and if I was a better writer, you would feel the horror and terror I experienced as I viewed the floating crab limbs, knowing that it was all my doing. I’m not looking forward to my karma. Good night.