I first fell in love with the little creatures in the ’70s. I was in France one summer and I think I had them practically every night. They were sauteed. They were broiled. They were breaded. They were dusted with almonds. They were prepared every which way, and I adored every bite.
I continued to eat them when I lived in Manhattan where they were on menus every spring/summer. They were fewer and far between after I moved to Florida and still more scarce in restaurants once I settled in California.
Did I forget about them? Absolutely not.
Last night, during our annual August pilgrimage to Connecticut, we went out for dinner with friends to an Italian place in New Milford called Piccolino’s. I spotted soft-shell crabs among the specials on their blackboard and pounced.
“I haven’t had them in ages,” I told the waitress. “I’m really excited.”
She tried to smile, but she had an earring in her top lip and the piercing made smiling difficult, apparently.
The crabs arrived and my heart sank. They looked mushy. I hate that. Too much butter sauce and probably overcooked.
I took my first bite and tried not to pout. No crunchiness of the legs. No rich crab flavor. No delicate seasoning. Just blobs on a plate.
Did the experience turn me off to soft-shells forever? I don’t know, but it’ll take me awhile to jump back in.