Tuesday 10 February 2015

There is no Greater Love than the Love of Crab

The food in Goa has been outstanding. I’ve eaten impossibly fresh fish or seafood every day, and amazing Indian dishes knocked up by the chef at Bougainvillea where I stayed.

For sheer authenticity, the best place has to be Milly’s, a few kilometres out of town down the road to Agonda. A little house, a few tables held together with parcel tape and a veggie patch out the back. Cows lean over the wall from next door, and a dog and a cat sleep on the floor.

Milly prepares one meal a day, a thali. That’s some rice, pickles, dhal, sauce, and something else. I’ve had little fishcakes or spicy fillets of fish fried in semolina. She makes her own Kombucha, and everything has been grown in her little garden. Dining here is exactly the kind of experience that you travel for.

The other side of Patnem, a ride away down among the pine trees that line Turtle Beach, is Surya. It’s all fish and seafood - fantastic oysters, beautiful soup, and crabs from the lagoon behind the beach. You sit in dappled shade under the trees and watch the waves rolling in.

Surya, Turtle Beach
I chose a pretty big crab from the basket, its twin claws tied up with string. I love crab. Love it. I love the animals themselves, and I love eating them.

There is something very noble and dignified about a crab I think; they seem so ancient and primitive. I love how they change colour so dramatically when you cook them, and how that symbolises their passing from one thing into another. If you are going to eat animals, you really need to make this connection with them and understand what it is you are doing. You are asserting your place in the food chain; the natural supremacy of your species that is integral to the evolution of our planet. Kill and eat animals, but know and understand that you are doing it. Know that you have a duty to them during their life, and when you have taken that life, turned an animal into food, you have a duty to make that food taste as pure and delicious as it can.

I’ve cried eating crab before, and if I hadn’t been surrounded by people, I probably would have again. Just the sweetest, juiciest, most wonderful thing in the world to eat. I thank my little red shelled buddy, and pick slowly and deliberately through his body, making sure not a single scrap of him goes to waste.

I came back a few days later and ate another one. Walking along the beach after the meal, tiny baby crabs, their shells soft and translucent, are darting into little holes as you approach, out of reach of your heavy feet and the crows that chase them all day. Round towards the shore of the lagoon the sand became suddenly very soft and our feet sank inches deep with crisp, clean edges to their imprints. A strange pattern covered the surface, miniscule balls lying all around long, random scratches.

It was sort of comforting knowing that they were under our feet all the time, emerging only to scurry about the sand searching for their own little morsels to feed on, and I wondered how many of them would eventually find their way into the wicker baskets, and when, and make some lucky soul very, very happy.

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