I got up and got ready by nine o'clock - on a Saturday, I might add - and went on my hunt for live crab. I don't do the frozen crab thing - those are for amateurs. My experience told me they are the freshest if you get them on the day of the event. And they are the best if you get them from the Asian markets. Well, you really don't have a choice on the market because general supermarkets don't sell live crab. I knew exactly which market to go.
I parked the car and walked into the market, aiming straight at the seafood section. What did I see? An empty tank! There was one small part of a crab left: a crab claw on the bottom of the tank, and that was it.
Shit! I said to myself after the shock subsided. I finally flagged down a clerk in the fish section and asked if they would get more shipment in today.
"No." was the answer. No customer service training was provided to workers of this market, obviously.
"Do you know when you'll get more in?" I knew it was a long shot, but maybe there was a slim chance that they were expecting a shipment in a few minutes.
"I don't know." was the concise answer.
How could this be? The tank was always full of crab piling on top of each other. Always. What happened? Maybe I'd have better luck at the next market. I drove to the second market, half deflated.
I could see it half way down to the seafood section at the second one - an empty tank. Not even a broken claw this time. And when would they get more in? You got it - don't know.
I looked at the frozen crab in the big freezer and thought about it for a moment. The thought of being an amateur was unbearable. Nah, I'll try a third market before giving in to the second choice.
The third one was a little far out, but was worth the drive if they had the illusive commodity. Please, please let them have the crab, I said to myself while walking toward the back of the market, where the eight-legged critters would be.
I came home with a bag of manila clam for the clam chowder I was about to experiment, and three packs of frozen king crab. I was counting on the wine to befog my guests’ taste buds before dinner. Maybe they wouldn't notice the difference after the wine and the chowder.
Clearly I wasn't the only one who heeded to the gastronimic portrayal of the season. I also learned that the frozen king crab couldn't hold a candle to the live Dungeness crab - no matter how lavishly I poured the wine. Note for next year: get the crab the day before the dinner.