Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Cliche But Cool: Eating Alaskan King Crab Legs in Alaska

©2011 Leighann Lord

To say that I’m a picky eater is like saying Barack Obama is having a tough presidency. It began in childhood and it was a chore getting me to eat. I sat for hours rearranging the food on my plate, more of it going on the floor than in my mouth. Yeah, I was “that” kid.

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uch to the bewilderment of my West Indian family, I don’t like nor can I tolerate spicy food. As a second-generation American I seem to have lost any inherent genetic ability to handle anything hot or curry. This doesn’t bother me though. I figure if I am kind to my colon, my colon will be kind to me.

As an adult I’m still rather picky. Cheese? No. Carrots? No. Chocolate? No, not really. Unlike the majority of my gender, I can survive without it. I’m way more likely to scarf down food I’m familiar with rather than trying something new. That’s why I’ve eaten at Pizza Hut in Rotterdam, KFC in England and McDonald’s in the Bahamas. When I went to Alaska, the locals were eager to tell me about the regional specialities: deer, moose, halibut. No, no, do I have to? (There’s nothing wrong with deer or moose it’s just that I didn’t grow up on it.) I opted instead for the Make-Your-Own-Slam at Denny’s. Yeah, I’m “that” girl.

In Fairbanks however, we went to eat at a lovely place called Lavelle’s Bistro. Highly recommended by natives and friends, the decor, ambiance and service were on par with any of Manhattan’s finest. As I perused the menu lots of stuff looked good, but about midway down the entrees page, everything changed when I saw: 

Wild Caught Alaskan King Crab Legs 

To my mind’s eye it was written in glitter. I gasped so audibly, my dinner companions thought I was in distress. And I was. The last time I had crab legs Britney Spears was a sweet young thing, ever so gently pushing the envelope of good taste. 
The internal debate began: should I or shouldn’t I? Yes, I love crab legs. No, they’re too expensive. Could I really spend $45 on a plate of crab legs? But these weren’t just any old crab legs. These were (drum roll, please): 

Wild Caught Alaskan King Crab Legs!

I don’t know what “wild caught” means, but I can only assume The Crab didn’t go quietly. Would the struggle make it taste better? God, I hoped so.

I mean, how often would I get the chance to have Alaskan King Crab Legs in freakin’ Alaska? I’ve always assumed my crab leg experience would be limited to The Red Lobster on Sunrise Highway. I had to order them. My Husband always says, when you’re on the road you deserve to have at least one really good meal, and I don’t think he meant Denny’s.

But on the other hand, it was so cliche. It’s like the people who come to New York and order a New York Strip steak, or the people who go to England and order bangers and mash. The latter are profoundly sorry for doing so, unless it was their goal to commit suicide by taste bud. 

But was I really going to be that much of a tourist and order Alaskan King Crab Legs in Alaska? Yes, I was. Given my choices of other traditional Alaskan things to do — ice fishing, moose tipping, alcoholism — the crab legs at least seemed doable. (I don’t know if there’s really such a thing as moose tipping, but with the average male moose clocking in at eight feet tall and fifteen hundred pounds I wouldn’t advise it. That’s a “Darwin Award” waiting to happen.)

As a precursor to the crab, my friend Gina and I split a plate of calamari, and it was good to a fault. It made me realize I’ve never had really good calamari before. Clearly, hitherto Lavelle’s, I’ve been eating deep fried crap with the chewy consistency of a worn out, rubber tire. Oh good grief, why did I agree to share?

And then came the Crab Legs.

I was breaking all the rules here. There are certain foods I don’t like eating in public: ribs, hot wings, crab legs. They’re messy and I’m a vain, neat freak. Moreover I think it’s unseemly to fight with your food, but this was a brawl I couldn’t miss. Between nut cracker and bare hands, I wolfed down one pound of Crab Legs — baked potato and butter on the side — like it was chow time at the prison mess hall. Those crab legs were wild caught, wild eaten and will be fondly remembered. How were they? People, please. Red Lobster should be ashamed.

The After Math
I so didn’t want to stand up and do stand-up after a meal like that.  But much to my surprise, we were treated to dinner by our gracious MWR Host at Fort Wainwright. It would’ve been totally rude to miss the show because I was back at my hotel room sleeping it off. I may not be able to hold my liquor, but I can damn sure hold my crab legs. Oh yeah, I’m “that” girl.

Leighann Lord is a stand-up comedian, who's style is best described as "Thinking Cap Comedy." If comedy were music, she'd be Jazz. Check out her upcoming shows @ www.VeryFunnyLady.com. Join her on FaceBook. Follow her on Twitter.

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