I recently wrote this for a contest regarding summer foods, but didn't make the cut, despite it being a popular read and well received when shared at open mic events. I love this story - specific to Maryland, and think others here will too. I plan on including it in a Flash Fiction Collection Book, but for now really want to share it here (668 words not counting the title) . . .
The Crab Feast Symphony
“Can you smell it? Can you smell it?” Chanted Kenny to his baby sister, Mimi, amped up to eat as everyone around them is busy telling stories and catching up on family news.
“Not only can I smell it, I can see it,” said Mimi back to her brother who caught sight of their waitress and the large tray she was effortlessly carrying balanced on her shoulder as she walked to their outdoor table. Mimi’s eyes were big and bright and she couldn’t help but smack her lips. The family of ten watched as the tray full of large, brilliant red crabs and large ears of white corn on the cob complete with steam rising above the food and generously dusted with an intense orange colored seafood spice. The heavenly concoction drifted to their table causing family members to drool like Pavlov’s dog.
The annual Thompson family crab feast was today and always held at their favorite crab house, located right on the Chesapeake Bay, at their usual outside space, a picnic table with an excellent view of the bay. The briny, salty breeze of the water complimented the aroma of crab seasoning and yacht rock music piped through speakers hidden in large planters overflowing with canna lilies, petunias, and geraniums all in the colors of the Maryland flag.
Kenny and Mimi watched as their family, with octopus-like arms, reached, stretched, and grabbed rolls of paper towels, small plastic cups of apple cider vinegar and J.O. Spice crab seasoning, wooden mallets and crab knives all while several fat steamy crabs were placed right in front of them. Everyone has a different way of eating steamed crabs, yet Kenny and Mimi, had learned from their grandparents the best way to pick a crab. First, pry the top shell off, remove the apron and guts and then break it in half - down the middle, to where it is easiest to remove remove the cartilage and expose the lump meat. Then, pulling the attached legs one at a time, you expose the huge lump of white lump meat and then work your way down to the crab legs and claws. This was their secret to eating so many crabs before getting full like the others.
As Kenny and Mimi feasted, the symphony began. The song mimicked the Danube Waltz…. da da da da, BAM BAM, BAM BAM, as wooden mallets whacked crab legs. Da da da da da, although what the gathered people heard was Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm, when parents, uncles and aunts, and kids sang praises of the sweet, buttery, lump crab meat pulled from tight crevices and popped it into their mouths. Or the crunch crunch crunch crunch when juicy fresh corn kernels soaked in butter and mixed with the spices on their hands from picking crabs popped and sprayed their neighbors as more bangs from wooden gavels rang over the table. And as vocalizations continued, an “OW” in a soprano range was heard as the salty spice mix inflicted pain on someone’s open cut on their fingers from a jagged edge of shell. Mumbles of conversations resembled a base line followed by the harmony of Ahhhs from drinking refreshing cold beer or sweet tea only to blend together to carry the tune as it progressed. Then came the finale of a burp or two, groans of eating way too much, and laughter at how messy everyone looks.
Every year, Kenny and Mimi heard the same symphony and they never grew tired of it. This was music to their ears just as the feast was music to their stomachs. The brother and sister duo, now in their thirties with families of their own, also hoped it would be music to their families ears when dessert time came as they revealed that they bought the restaurant. Not to just further their families legacy but to be a part of countless other families; generations still yet to hear the Danube Waltz played with Mmms, laughter, and crab mallets.