I need to apologize here for letting the blog slide below my day-to-day horizon. It's been a crazy couple of weeks, work-wise and whatever else, and I see it's been a week and a half since my last post. Yikes.
Let's look at another couple of pages from Dragonfly.
The first half of this poem describes one of my fondest childhood memories: crabbing with the family. I've never been one for fishing, I gotta say, but crabbing, now there you've got something! My dad really did use steak for bait — porterhouse, no less — rather than something like chicken (which many people use); that gesture is part of his devil-may-care, aristocratic attitude.
This is a guy who (thought he) looked like the movie and TV actor Dick Powell
Below is my father's passport photo from the late 1940s, next to a picture of Dick Powell, a crooner in 1930s movies and later a film-noir tough guy in the 1940s (he played the detective Philip Marlowe in the 1944 movie Murder, My Sweet.) You decide if there's a resemblance. I guess the point here is that Papa thought of himself, of Martin Avila Gotera, in romantic terms, and that carried through into everything he did, even crabbing.
Okay, by now, you're probably wondering who the third guy is in the pictures above, the one to the right of Dick Powell. That's the greatest Dutch painter, Rembrandt van Rijn, a self-portrait painted in 1630 when he was in his mid-20s.
As the poem says, my oldest childhood friend, Peter van Rijn, is a direct descendant of Rembrandt, and I was always awed by that ancestry. But then there are other kinds of knowledge, and in the poem the speaker shares expertise the van Rijns didn't know, the
For what it's worth, this dinner and crab event really happened. Though I did take one small liberty: the poem says the van Rijns were eating a "red King crab" — probably a red Alaska King crab. In all likelihood, they would have served a Dungeness crab, the most common crab typically eaten in California. You can probably recognize this in the pictures below of an Alaska King crab on the left and a Dungeness crab on the right; the King crab looks like some kind of space alien from a B-movie. Here's why I chose to use "King crab" in the poem: it's a very expensive crab, and I liked the word "King," emphasizing the
Okay, wanna know what you should do next? Go eat some crab. Maybe King crab legs. Expensive, yes, but well worth it. Better yet, get a whole crab, rather than crab meat that's been extracted by stainless steel gadgets. There's something magical and fun about getting your hands dirty while eating crab. Whatever you do, steer clear of faux crab, imitation crab meat.
If you've never eaten crab by hand before, check out these instructions from Instructables.com; but also follow my tips in the poem, which will become easier to apply if you look at the Instructable pictures. Remember, no knives. Also, the online instructions say, "Remove and discard the spongy, inedible gills"; as I say in the poem, "chew
One little aside. Look again at the pictures above of my dad, Dick Powell, and Rembrandt: don't you think the bottom half of Papa's face resembles Rembrandt's? Hmmm. Nah, just kidding, just kidding! Thanks for reading the blog.
Oh, wait. Another little aside. Check out the picture below of a coconut crab doing a little dumpster diving. Well, not a dumpster exactly, but a common household garbage can. Scary, don't you think? You probably don't have a pot big enough to cook this bad boy.
Just so we can all feel safe taking out the trash later, let's leave off with a picture where human beings are firmly in charge of the crabs.
Photo credits: The picture of San Francisco's Municipal Pier at the top is from yelp.com, taken by Ed "Mr. Peabody" U. The next picture, of a full crab net, is from the Beachstumps website. The third picture is from the Instructables.com instructions on "How to Cook and Clean a Fresh Dungeness Crab." The next picture, of a person holding a live crab, is a San Francisco Chronicle file photo from SFGate.com. The fifth picture, of a whole cooked crab on a plate, is courtesy of PDPhoto.org. The sixth picture, of a quarter crab plus legs served up on a plate, is again from Instructables.com. The photo of Dick Powell is a detail from an image on fanpix.net. The
self-portraitby Rembrandt (1630) is from Wikimedia commons. Also from Wikimedia Commons are the pictures of the Alaska King Crab and the Dungeness Crab. The picture of the coconut crab on the garbage can be found all over the internet; just google "coconut crab." I found it in the blog Loko's Domain. The last picture, of a Fisherman's Wharf crab stand, is also from Wikimedia Commons.