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I grew up with family seafood boils. I have so many wonderful memories of our extended family gathered around a huge table covered in thick layers of newspaper and piled with steaming crab, crawfish, shrimp, potatoes, and corn. We sat around the table and eat and talk and drink for hours. (Well, they really didn't let me do much drinking when I was 6, but I get to now!)

During those gatherings, I learned my family's stories. I heard about the time Uncle Scott had a burn on him bottom, couldn't wear diapers, and his older brothers charged the neighborhood kids $.05 to come in and look at his naked, burned butt. (And, of course, I learned the story of the burn itself. Your instincts are correct if you guessed that his older siblings had something to do with it.) And then there was the time two of my mom's brothers burned down a garage. And the marijuana plot in the backyard. (I could go on and on, but my mom might never forgive me!) These loud, raucous gatherings are some of the best memories of my childhood and so, of course, I'd like to pass the tradition onto my children.

My parents taught me how to pick crabs when I was tiny. My mother grew up in a household of 9 where it was every man for himself when the food hit the dinner table. Consequently, the rule in our family has always been that once you're old enough, you pick your own crabs and you peel your own shrimp and crawfish. Or you starve.

Last weekend, we got a bushel of live crabs from a friend's connection in Pungo and invited some friends over for a crab and shrimp boil. The kids ran around like wild animals and stayed up way too late. The adults drank wine and beer and ate way too much food. We gorged ourselves on spicy boiled crabs, shrimp and potatoes and crusty French bread. By the end of the evening, my nose was slightly runny from the spices,* my fingers were a little pruned and chewed up from prying sharp crab parts apart, my hands smelled of seafood and newspapers, and my tummy was pleasantly full.

*No Old Bay seasoning will ever enter my house. We use a combination of Zatarain's crab boil and my own special spice combination. Lots of red pepper is involved.

My family may be far away, but I thought of those wonderful family gatherings often throughout the night. T and I shared our family stories with friends. It wasn't the same as my childhood memories, but it was fun. There's nothing better than good food and good conversation. Hopefully, my children will learn who they are and where they came from in the same way I did, even if we have to create our own extended quasi-family.

One thing if for sure though. Hollis and Holden better learn to pick crabs quickly if they want to keep eating them.

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Blogger PunditMom said...

Picking crabs is hard work! But maybe those little kid fingers do it better than us grown-ups!

Blogger Julie Pippert said...

How very cool and fun. How neat to have the memories and to make them now for yourself and your kids. Love the cute kid---in PJS!---photos!

Using My Words

Blogger QT said...

That sounds sooo delish! We used to do Dungeness when I was growing up. Believe me, I learned quick!

Blogger Sunshine said...

I love crab boils! Hated them as a kid though, too picky of an eater.

When we lived in Delaware, my dad would pack us kids up in the car some days and we'd drive to Maryland to some place where he paid the guy to use his dock and we went "crabbin" and caught all of them. That part was fun...tie a chicken leg to a string and plop it in the water, I'm sure you already know that but most people where I live would not have the slightest idea how to catch crabs. I remember that the most.... makes me wonder what stuff we do that my kids will remember!
Sure looks like the boys were having fun!!!

Blogger flutter said...

Um, can I come over?

Also I love that his jammies say "Sound Sleeper" like he is the superhero of bedtime. That rocks

Blogger ExPatSW said...

I've been sorting through Mother and Grandmother's old photos this weekend, remembering lots of family times! And, of course, thinking about those no longer with us. Been a rather tearful time, in all. Thanks so much for this post! Brought back lots of happy memories; a good close to a difficult weekend.

Blogger Sarcasta-Mom said...

Go NaBloPoMo!

We live on the Maine coast, so seafood is a key ingredient to life. If you don't love seafood, you're in trouble. Which is always hard for my super pick G. But even G loves a good crab :)

Blogger Mrs. Chicky said...

Color me jealous! We didn't even get lobsters this year. Your boil, even to my kooky stomach, sounds heavenly.


You are making me so homesick!!! We had crabs shipped to us every summer until the about 2 years ago when the cost just skyrocketed because of shipping and such.

I still plan my trips home to MD around crab season though.

Blogger Christine said...

i am pretty good at picking crabs.

and drinking beer.

and eating food.

Blogger Gunfighter said...

I pick a mean crab, myself... but enough of that... I want your spice recipe!

(If you'll tell me, I'll buy you a dirty martini!)

Anonymous Julie said...

Oh my god. I obviously didn't grow up with "family seafood boils" because it took e a full minute to get over my disgust at what sounded to me like a bad medical condition!!!!!

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