Posted on May 8, 2015
I’ve got a lazy streak. Really? Yes. There. It’s out.
Rocket-man would disagree of course. “You’re anything but lazy,” he says. “You’ve run 29 marathons, five ultra-marathons, and you’ve completed two triathlons.” OK. So, I’m obviously not talking about physical activities. Yes. I used to be extremely active. Not as much as I’d like now, as most of you know, due to the abysmal state of my knees. But, truth be told, for a while now I haven’t had the fire in my belly for taking myself to a new limit in terms of endurance activities. Perhaps that would change if my knees cooperated…or, maybe not. In my 58th year I don’t need to prove my physicality, even to myself. Case in point, our recent five-day cycling trip to Maryland.
It was THE most laid back cycling trip I have ever been on. The roads were not overly challenging and we really didn’t put in a lot of miles on the bike compared to other cycling vacations. First off, it was mighty cold the first few days of our cycling adventure so plans for early morning rides were thankfully dropped in favor of other activities. I was OK with it all, somewhat to my surprise, as there were a lot of different activities to enjoy. We hiked part of the Appalachian Trail (a lovely 7.5 mile stretch that included steep switchbacks AND, an encounter with a snake); we toured the U.S. Naval Academy and the battlefields of Gettysburg, where some 51,000 souls were lost in July 1863 (some 6,000 men perished and the rest were wounded or captured). We also enjoyed a leisurely ride around the monuments in Washington, D.C. In all, It was a refreshing change of pace to slow things down a bit.
Back to the lazy streak.
I actually do have one. For example, I start books and get lazy about finishing them…. in the same year. I’ve got stacks of books on my nightstand and scattered about the house. I read a few pages of one and then move on to another. I download books to Kindle and start reading with focused delight only to let the e-book languish while I go back to my nightstand stack. As you can imagine, at this pace it takes me a while to get through a book. I’m working hard to change this embarrassing little habit and I’m actually getting better; I finished two books in the last month. I’m feeling mighty pleased with myself.
I am also terribly lazy about laundry. Mind you, I do manage to get the clothes washed but am loath to fold, press and put them away in a timely manner. It’s a chore that has no finish line in sight for heaven’s sake! Fortunately Rocket-man, years a bachelor, has no problem with folding clothes. I can also be somewhat lazy about cooking. I consider myself pretty darn good in the kitchen (just ask my Italian cousins about my Tiramisù!). I’ll add a shout-out here to my beautiful and talented sister. She’s a better cook because of her improvisational skills. My ability to whip up wonderful meals goes in spurts. I make homemade tortellini and love all sorts of risotto recipes. I’ll prepare lovely dinners each night to enjoy for a week or so and then I fall back into laziness: Let’s order pizza or go out for brunch. Or, how about chips and salsa followed by chocolate chip cookie dough ice-cream for dinner. After so many years of cooking and cleaning, and cleaning and cooking. I’m tired of spending a lot of time in the kitchen.
But I do love to eat. I’m half-Italian after all. So it came as a bit of a surprise that I could be a bit lazy about eating, or….more perhaps more specifically…working for food.
I found this out about myself during our cycling trip. Our trip guide and organizer, a lovely woman whose moniker is Hound-dog (judge her not by this name as she is beautiful, inside and out) put together quite the cycling trip for us which included two every interesting gastronomic experiences. The former was as casual as it gets and the later quite the opposite.
For now, I’ll stick to our casual dining experience at Avery’s Maryland Grill in Frederick, Maryland. Once there, you needn’t be a rocket-scientist to figure out their specialty. This place is all about crabs and boy did we have a lot of it that night (well, except for me!).
The lot of us, thirteen in all, sat at a long, paper covered table with silverware and our own little wooden mallet (for breaking up the crab) at each place setting. There were also many pots of warm melted butter followed by plentiful baskets of hush-puppies, fries and sweet cornbread. Oh…and least we not forget our veggies, coleslaw. I’ve eaten Maryland crab before and I knew we were all in for a treat. It’s just that I normally get crab cakes and not THE crab, boiled in heavenly amounts of Old Bay Seafood seasoning (a blend of herbs and spices that is also responsible for fluid-retention in humans).Hound-Dog did her very best to show the novices among us (including moi) how to extract the meat from the crab. Or, more specifically, how to shell a crab. In fact, she provided detailed instructions, which I watched with rapt attention. Rocket-man needed no instruction (he does have a Ph.D. after all). One of the California Biker Chicks, Ms. Moon, who sat across from me, watched Hound-Dog intently as she expertly showed how to pull apart the crab’s main cavity and clear out the guts and “mustard”…which was thoroughly disgusting to me Who knew that some folks consider the “mustard” a delicacy! Ms. Moon’s eyes grew wide in mock horror as she watched Hound-Dog. If Ms. Moon had looked across the table at me, she would have seen the same reaction. Ms. Nancy who sat next to her was also a good sport, using her crab mallet with genuine gusto. She was having fun and her eyes were twinkling as she pounded away.
I’ll admit this wasn’t what I had in mind for dinner but I sincerely wanted to make the effort to learn how to eat crab.I can do this…YES…I CAN.
I looked down the table at our cycle mates. Everyone was having a grand time. There was plenty of laughter and enthusiastic oohs and ahhs as folks were getting the hang of extracting the crab-meat. Those ladies that were novices were quickly getting into the flow of things, heaping crab shells and carcasses into bowls until they were soon over-flowing. I was mighty impressed with some of my Biker Chick friends; Ms. Laurie B. was consistently extracting meat with almost laser focus while another Biker Chick, Hermosa, was enjoying great success as well.
I gave up after 4 and a half minutes. Literally. Can you tell that I’ve got a streak of instant gratification in me?
Note to self: If you want to hone your survival skills in the off-chance of being stranded on a deserted island you’d better get better at foraging for food.
Rocket-man was in his own world, happy as a clam with his pile of crabs and he wasn’t about to stop to help this damsel in distress. I was thoroughly frustrated and very hungry! At one point, in my crab-induced crabbiness I thought about throwing my wooden mallet at him but naturally—and lucky for him— the moment was fleeting.Every crack of the crab leg yielded such a pathetic amount of meat! I could barely get enough crab meat to dip in the warm pot of butter. It seemed like a tremendous amount of work for very little reward! So, throwing sensible diet efforts completely out the window I started scarfing down hush-puppies, french fries, and cornbread dipped in the melted butter. Do not fear; I did have some healthy fare…coleslaw (I even stole Rocket-man’s serving while he was too busy rooting out his crab meat).
Ah…butter and cornbread…..Heaven.
Thankfully I wasn’t the only one who gave up the fight. Ms. Moon didn’t last long either. I’ll admit that I was green with envy over her brilliant resolution to the problem at hand. She ordered crab cakes.
Why didn’t I think of that?
Slap myself upside the head I did, later that night, as I laid in agony in my hotel bed, my stomach in a world of distress because of all the fried food I had all but inhaled in my hungry state (food I rarely eat).
Still, it was a night of fun, laughter and wonderful camaraderie. I had a Crab-Happy blast with the total experience (really, folks!) and perhaps, If I can muster up just a wee bit more patience with the process, I’ll definitely try it again…honestly!
Well….minus all those belly blasting hush-puppies, that is. Lord Have Mercy; It’s a wonder my bike didn’t break under the weight of those hush-puppies the very next day!