Television production involves long hours in the field and if the field is in Mississippi, it’s twelve long hot and humid hours. It also involves wearing two different headsets. One is a surveillance head piece that allows one to speak quietly to camera, sound and production people. The other is an IFB that allows the producers to hear talent. What this basically means is that the usual voices in my head are now joined by at least 20 more voices. Suffice to say I needed some down time. Make that quiet down time.
My plan was a trip to Biloxi to find some spicy boiled crab. And since my sense of direction is not a strength, I decided to stop at the Mississippi Welcome Center near Waveland for advice. As luck would have it Bobbie assisted me. Bobbie embodies all the goodness and pride that the south has to offer. She called three places before she found a restaurant that had some crabs. It seems that Katrina and/or over fishing have made crabs an unreliable menu item.
In a quick five miles I was pulling into Cuz’s Seafood Restaurant.
The restaurant was filled with Sunday diners looking for a good poboy. At a table next to mine four generations of one family were eating a variety of poboys. Alas, I was salivating the entire drive for some crabs. And I have to say, I came to the right place. A half dozen boiled crabs were placed in front of me, as well as a roll of paper towels. Eating crabs is a messy business.
I am no stranger to crabs. Summers in New Jersey meant that Mr. Dixon or Mr. Holdereid, neighbors, would bring a bushel of crabs from the shore. This triggered a three or four family cookout. They’d get the big pot boiling and pour a ton of Old Bay. Meanwhile picnic tables were lined with old newspaper. The grill would be lit and soon burgers and corn were cooking away.
It was Mr. Dixon who taught me the art of eating crabs. He said that all that work would be rewarded by the best thing you’ve ever eaten. And to this day I channel Mr. Dixon’s instructions. Break off the big main claws. Suck the spicy juice out. Don’t be in a hurry. Get the nut cracker and gently break the shell, then snap it open and pick, bite or pry out the meat. Savor. Move onto the claw, pry apart the pincers. The thin piece will be filled with juice, the thick piece meat. Dig in. Then one by one snap and suck the juice out of the legs. When you’re done just throw the shells on the table. Mr. Dixon told me that a female crab has a wide triangle on her belly and a male a thin one. Some females will have eggs. I don’t eat the eggs. He taught me how to pry apart the body, let me know that the lungs shouldn’t be eaten. Then he showed me the how to free the sweet white meat hidden in the many crevasses of the body. The taste is worth every bit of work.
As I worked my way through three of the six crabs I ordered, the delight of those summer days swept over me.
Cuz’s crabs have a much tastier and zinger boil spice, my lips were burning (in a good way) as worked my way to the meat.
I would recommend that if you are anywhere near Route 603 (it connects Hwy 90 and I-10) in Bay Saint Louis stop and eat. The poboys looked great as well.