Friday, July 29, 2011

Flesh Meat

Flesh. Meat. I cracked into the crab claw. A hard carapace could protect these creatures from anything pretty much. Only the unlucky ones, the ones that would find themselves on the surface unintentionally, would ever die. The ocean was a soft body and a crab's hard shell could protect it. But not so on land. The elements were harsh and the predators deadly.

Humans have devised a way to bring the creatures to us. We set a bait trap, and then we scare the crap out of a now helpless sea creature. We tug it toward us, in a net or on a line. And in the case of the crab, in a trap. Then we measure it and decide if the biggest, strongest looking ones should be removed from the gene pool.

And with crab it is just that way. The big ones end up in the pot of boiling water. It boils slowly, screaming and then ceasing motion. Dead inside its carapace. What was once protection from the elements has turned into an insulating heat fryer. As the meat cooks inside the shell, we lick our lips and think of the meal that is before us. A feast, a rare treat from the sea.

I prefer crab meat to lobster meat.

There is little preparation in the process. Seafood tends to look as if it were alive still. Clams and oysters are whole—the entire body gobbled down without a second thought. The crabs similarly, are served whole. The meat and the steam cooker—its once formidable carapace. And we place it down on our table.

The family descends upon these heated corpses. We tear off limbs, suck the meat out of the shell, and break the carapace with nutcrackers. Our tools; we are men and we have designed things to make our world accessible. And we eat crab by taking tools to crush the calcium patterns of the shell; intricate patterns of red and black and white weaving in and out of each other in a mottled fashion. It is easy to place the nutcracker around the shell and apply pressure. Just a little squeeze and the juices flow out, often squirting on clothes and the table. We lap it up. We remove the meat, eat with ferocity.

I partake in this feast, but I can't help but feel like I'm wild. The act of opening each piece of the shell makes me feel like a seagull, the family crowded around it like hyenas. We are so a part of this ecosystem and we are so close to the wild. Our tools keep us lulled into a false sense of superiority but at the end of the day we are just animals tearing apart other animals to eat them. We are just flesh. Meat.