The guy in the flannel shirt really wanted me to eat his crab. “Have a claw!” he said, waving a steaming pincer in my face with tongs. “No, thanks. I’m good. You go ahead,” I said. I’ve suffered through this gastronomic showdown a million times, from Paris to Paducah, and it always ends the same way. I turn down food I don’t want to eat. At best, I offend somebody. At worst, I make a new unfriend.
The crab pusher came at me last summer at a beach party in Gustavus, Alaska, a little town on the fringes of Glacier Bay National Park. Golden sun shining off the water. Friendly locals. Cans of Rainier on ice. Alaskan king crab pulled from the frigid Pacific just hours earlier, now boiling in a giant kettle. A bighearted fisherman pulling out my prize from the pot.
“Have a claw!”
After my third refusal, the cheery offer started to sound more like a prison warden’s order to get back in line. The fisherman’s expression said, I am the executor of your once-in-a-lifetime experience. So take the claw, and we’ll both walk away happy.
Now here it was, the inevitable moment when the personal capital I’d accrued was about to get squandered with a single confession: “I don’t eat crab.” I don’t care how much butter and garlic you soak it in, that crustacean spider’s gnarled clamper is not coming anywhere near my mouth.
“Don’t eat crab?” His mariner eyes narrowed. “What the hell’s wrong with you?”