Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Thing

We have this great local fishmonger, Fish Tale, in Streatham Hill and the family who run it are friendly, chatty, and helpful. They're always busy now, which is a heartening sign of the well-deserved welcome they are getting from the local community. We don't visit as often as I'd like, but have been in there maybe four or five times and have always been greeted with a smile and a genuine hello.

Last Sunday we went in at around 5.30pm and they were almost sold out of the fish on their ice counter, but the proprietress assured me they had more in the chiller. In the end we bought some gorgeous cod and haddock fillets marinated in chilli and herbs (which were delicious, but we'll have to get to that another time).

As we were paying up, by way of conversation, the nice lady mentioned that they would soon be getting a lobster tank in store. Excited by this, I asked her how much a lobster would be (she didn't actually say, but looking at their website I can see they're normally £9.99) - and she said they would have live crabs, too. At this point, I exclaimed, "I love crab!" Quick as a flash, she was on her way out the back again."Wait there," she said. "I'll give you one." Catching our uncertain glances to one another, she added to the Mister and I, "for free!"

The Mister gave me a look that said, BONUS. I didn't argue, and before we knew it she was handing us a weighty carrier bag with a huge orange crustacean staring up at us with beady, dead eyes.

"I had a customer who ordered it," said the diminutive shopkeeper, "but she couldn't cook it live, so she asked me to do it, and said she would collect it on Friday. That was two days ago, and I can't sell it, so have it. Tell me how it is," she winked, "but don't eat it if it smells funny," she added, with a look of warning.

"But how do we get into it?" I asked. "And aren't there some bits we can't eat?" I was vaguely remembering something about dead man's fingers.

"Naaah, darleeen," came the reply. "Just put a sharp knife into it (she mimed a straight-down, stabbing motion) and it will be lovely."

Well. One hour later, we were staring at our new Cornish friend in the kitchen sink.

"I feel sorry for it," I said.

The Mister started to try to split it in half as per the instructions given, but succeeded only in dulling our sharpest kitchen knife. So we did what any pansy-assed, lily-livered city slickers who didn't know our crab's ass from its elbow would do:

We youtubed it. (You have to watch this. It's the least enthusiastic instruction video ever.)

Following our nasal young instructor's method step-by-step, we (well, I say we)  dissected the primeval, alien creature, bit by bit. We had to keep stopping to rinse it, because it was pretty horrible and all covered in brown goop.

I documented the Mister's disgust, mild nausea, and sheer incredulity with great interest.

Eventually we got the hang of getting the meat out, using our ill-equipped kitchen implements such as chopsticks, knives, and our garlic crushers. After an hour of hard toil, we ended up with this much meat.

What a crock.

It did make a lovely crab linguine, though. But your bin doesn't half stink the next day.

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