Okay, um… how did I not know this?! We got crabs you guys! Right here in our lagoon- blue, bottom-feeding, easy to catch, fun to eat- crabs! Maybe I’ve just been walking around with my head up my behind the last couple years but, honestly, I had no idea we had these in Belize until my neighbor gifted us some last week as he had an abundance. And they’re right from our own backyard, the Placencia Lagoon.
Growing up outside of Philadelphia, my family (like most) made an annual pilgrimage ‘down the shore’ for a week long beach vacation. Our go-to was Ocean City, NJ but others chose Sea Isle, Wildwood, Brigantine, Cape May, or any number of other towns along the southern New Jersey coast. All these destinations have the same drawl and most of the same activities: strolling the boardwalk, hitting the amusements and arcades, eating copious amounts of fried dough confections. Every year one of our 7 days down the shore would be spent crabbing. My dad would rent us a skiff and we’d take to the bay with a few nets, buckets, crab traps and handlines and a bunch of chicken parts. We’d spend a few easy hours tossing traps and hauling up Atlantic Blue Tips by the bushel. That night we’d boil them with tons of Old Bay seasoning and a pot of accompanying spaghetti to spend the (entire) evening cleaning and picking and eating our catch. It’s as nostalgic a meal as mom’s meatloaf, even though it was only an once-a-year feast it was so fun I’ll always remember sitting around the newspaper strewn picnic table for hours each summer.
When my neighbor, Chris, waved me over with a sack of… something… I never would have guessed it would have been crabs like this. I’ve seen crab on the menu at Omar’s Creole Grub (a wonderful local restaurant for seafood specialties) but it is the long-limbed channel crab- a warm water version of king crab. I’ve also heard of local families nipping out to the cayes at night to hunt land crabs by flashlight, but these are a different crab entirely. I happily accepted the bag and boiled up these beauties that night. The meat is subtly sweet just like the Jersey Blues I knew. Phil said it was too much work for too little meat so I got to eat them all myself- a night around the kitchen table well spent!
Now I want to go crabbing! I want to plan a crabfest with our friends and sit around chatting while we work our way through a bushel of crabs and a case of Belikin. Who’s in?!