Due to the unexpectedly warm December we're having on Cumberland, Emily (pictured 2nd from left) has had huge success while crabbing off the docks of Cumberland. Emily is a native Savannahian who grew up setting crab traps with her family on Tybee Island. It was a treat to experience this little slice of low-country culture a couple nights ago. That's one of the things I love about living in different places- getting to see and experience firsthand new things- the different, the exciting, and the unfamiliar. (Also, why I love photographing them.) In college, I took as many classes as I could in anthropology, the study of culture. I have always been fascinated by the traditions, roles, and rituals we create based on our environment, our heritage, and the people around us. Emily shared with us a tradition she grew up with. And not in a grandiose sense by any means, she's was just doing something she loves (and I, of course, was just in awe of it all). A crab boil is more than getting the meat out of a crab; it is a gathering of people around a table to pick the fruit of your ocean harvest. Similar to the crawfish boils of Louisiana or Mississippi, you throw everything on a table and start working for that food you worked so hard to catch. Emily called it "Tybee Trash." I also have to quote her on "This ain't Martha Stewart, y'all." Basically, throw everything on the table and start working for your food.
The Ocean Harvest
I remember on a legendary spring break trip to New Orleans several years ago, a group of best friends went to a crawfish boil on the Mississippi River, in a park called the Fly. To us, it was magical. The combination of perfect weather, friendly people, and learning how to eat a crawfish, guts and all, seemed completely authentic. As Emily was teaching me how to gently tear apart this little creature to pick out the meat, I had that same feeling of authenticity. I'd say it was somewhere between scooping out the intestines or picking off the "dead man's fingers," these spongy tentacle looking things that are really just the lungs. I'm laughing at myself writing this because it sounds so gross- sorry to the faint of heart. It felt almost primitive, working for that food you caught (well I didn't catch it, but I felt lucky to participate). And then I remember my mom telling me how her grandmother used to have to ring the chicken's neck to kill it. Yikes! We used to have to work for our food, people! I guess once you work for it, it makes it taste so much better than anything you could buy from a store. Not that I'm saying I want to go out and butcher a pig or anything, but it's just a reminder how much dirty work is put into the food we eat before we get our hands on it. We are privileged in that sense. But, enough of philosophy. All in all, it was a good time had by a bunch of friends around a table. These are the times that remind me why life is good. :)