Monday, March 16, 2009


I'm developing quite the to-do list for tomorrow. This weekend, I took it easy, once again sleeping almost clean through saturday. The neighboring community college has a 2 year zoo program. Today, I went to the "Spring Spectacular" themed Parrots of the Carribean show there and it was a reasonable way to kill a couple of hours outdoors. The animals seemed pretty pleased either with the 60F and overcast day (not too hot, not too cold) or were big showoffs, based on their activity levels. The primate cages are strung with old firehoses for the monkeys to swing on, and they did. The parrots and similar birds were very vocal. Not with any clear speech as such. During the little animal shows and demos they did, they were good at pointing out what is and isn't a good pet - box turtle, tarantula, bearded dragon = good pet; any non-domestic cat? bad, bad pet. Parrot? If you want to deal with a noisy, cranky, pissing bird who will live 80+ years, likely hate your spouse and kids, and in general have the temperament of a toddler, it's your call, but they don't recommend it.

Me, I'd dearly love a dog - if and only if I had a hope of it getting walked in the morning, and preferably had a yard. So for now, when I get pets, they're usually in hamster form. Right now I am pet free, but I did wind up with a plant. As a get-well gift that was "funky and colorful" from the admin at work, I have a yellow, pink, and orange bromeliad. Which is cool because it can be overwatered it every so often then let to dry out sometimes. Since that is how I water things, it should be pretty happy. Next week, though, it'll get a garbage bag terrarium treatment, if I remember, while I go see the big hole in the ground.

Friday night, though, I wanted to go out and the boy was willing. I'd been seeing commercials for Joe's Crab Shack's steampots. When I saw the commercial, I realized I hadn't had much crab in the last few years - having mostly lobster - and I wanted, wanted, wanted one. This crab pot was not cheap but not wickedly expensive at about half or a third of the price of the local seafood shack (Neptune's Net in Malibu). It was actually pretty good - the crab was well cooked in our pot for 2 and that's what I was there for. The few shrimps were pretty overdone, but I wasn't there for shrimp. The dipping butter was really salty (but not as bad as the Macaroni Grill food which I had thursday at lunch with my colleagues. Just call that place the Salt Lick and be done with it.), the corn on the cob was overcooked (it always is, in these dishes), the potatoes good, and better with the salty butter. There was also a superfluous sausage which I had for breakfast this morning.

Back to the crab. We got a couple of full leg sets with knucklemeat. I've found that eating knucklemeat first is best because it's fine when hot but kinda not so good when cooler. Then eat the small legs, working up to the bigger claws which hold the heat longer. With a lobster, I eat the tail last. If I tried to eat it first, it would be too hot and by the time I'm done with it, the small legs are frigid. The other way around saves the best for last, if you're not dining with locusts who will snatch it from you.

So when we got our pot, I started divvying up the legs and the boy asked what to do. I said to eat the knucklemeat first. But belatedly I realized what he meant was, "how do I eat crab from the shell because I've never done it before?" How can this be? When I was a kid, my brother would try various means to get my parents to take us out for all-you-can-eat crab legs. I ate lobster before I was 2. Like swimming and using chopsticks, I don't remember learning to eat crab. I remember getting some repeat lessons along the way as our dexterity improved, and learning new tricks. My brother is a master at getting whole meat from crab legs. The boy? Never done it before. I still can't get over that. He ate a fair amount, and I gave him the plurality of overcooked shrimp, which were also in the shells and he ate the first one without peeling it until he saw me peeling mine. Gotta give him points for trying, especially since I was pretty focused on the crab and not on him.

Also, when he came over for dinner on wednesday, we made a salad and cooked mango chicken, which I think is great. I made 2 trays in the aluminum foil so we could load our respective sides with stuff we liked more (I had more mushrooms, he had more potatoes). He wasn't sure about the mango. Using the trick of "if you help prepare it, you're more likely to try it", I had him peel the mango. I've honestly never seen a mango peeled like a flower with all the strips of skin still attached at one point on the bottom, but it got the job done. And he was willing to eat it. He was also willing to try a chunk of raw cherry tomato (the only kind outside of Greece and Italy I can eat raw and like, rather than tolerate or hate), and a floret of raw cauliflower, against his personal instincts. He'd never eaten raw cauliflower before and allowed that he liked it better raw than cooked. So not only did he try at least 3 things he doesn't usually eat, he ate his whole dish even though I accidentally over spiced his side with hot sauce thinking it was mine.

When he helped me carry the bromeliad in from the car, he set it down on a trivet rather than on the bare table. Just this week, he ate 4+ foods he was unfamiliar with or leery of - all of them touching other foods to top it off - and claimed to enjoy them. This from the guy who orders double mashed potatoes with his meat from KFC and Outback. And this is part of the reason I haven't given up on him for being a flake. He hasn't dated widely, he hasn't ventured far from mom's cooking, he's more trained than I am about treating furniture nicely, and he's willing to try stuff he thinks is bizzare when I ask him to. I'm not sure if this is to make up for the Valentine's day debacle or if he would have done it anyway, but I did hammer home the fact that he needs to go to dinner with me sometimes if he wants me to stick around, and "mom already made dinner" is not an acceptable reason to flake if we have plans. And so far, so good. He seems a little surprised at liking weird food, but I hope he's also pleased.

It's a little weird to me that he's never cracked a crab leg or eaten a mango or raw cauliflower.
It makes me realize that stuff I take for granted, has maybe never crossed his path before. And so I'm cutting him a little slack. But still, I think if his house purchase goes through, he might be over there all the time and I'll need to find someone else to hang with - after I help him out on his place a little, it's only fair. I'm going to look out for someone else interesting, just in case, but flake boy seems to be learning, at least a little, and is returning to the "fun" category of ways to spend my time.


gail said...

Sounds sort of like the California treatment of north meets south when it comes to trying strange foods --- glad it is working out for the both of you. Now --- what are YOU going to try that you haven't yet?

Just askin' is all ...


jzollars said...

Dear CrankyOtter,

My name is Jason Zollars with the Joe’s Crab Shack Support Center. I noticed your blog, and I am so honored that your boyfriend has his first experience with crab at our restaurant. I am thrilled to hear that you also enjoyed one of our Steampots, and we would like for you to be our guest on your next visit so that both of you can brush up on your crab cracking abilities. I would like to get your contact information so that we may properly thank you. Please send your contact information I look forward to hearing from you.

Jason Zollars
JCS Marketing