Obviously, human beings have evolved from their cave-dwelling, hunter-gathering days. Today’s man walks upright when not sitting in lounge furniture, lights fires with starter logs and procures Boar’s Head meats from the commissary deli counter.

Thanks to the advent of modern-day farms, fisheries and meat packing plants, military families can fill their bellies with meat without even getting their cammies dirty. However, for military families who end up stationed on the U.S. Eastern Seaboard, there is one circumstance in which they will voluntarily, willingly and even eagerly maim, slaughter and gut prey with their bare hands.

As long as there are twist-top beverages available, modern humans enjoy the experience of butchering Chesapeake Bay blue crabs. But eating steamed crabs is not all ruthless savagery. There is a step-by-step method that has been passed down through generations.

First, one must cover the dinner table with newspapers to protect it from mallet blows, flying debris and seeping bodily fluids. Next, pile the steamed crabs in the center of the paper-covered table, along with various accompaniments – lemon wedges and butter. Don’t bother with napkins, just have a fire hose ready for cleanup at the end.

Important! Before handing out wooden mallets and alcoholic beverages, it’s highly recommended to have each participant to sign a release form absolving the host of liability for any resulting physical injuries or mental trauma.

When everyone is seated at the table, tell each person to take a crab from the pile and place it on the table, abdomen facing up. Considering this critter is nothing more than a glorified spider, it’s very important to heed the following steps to extract the edible bits of meat:

Place a thumb under the “pop tab” on the white underbelly, and gently lift. Without revealing that this is actually the crab’s genitals, snap off the shell tab to reveal a small opening. If breaking off the creature’s reproductive organs was not savage enough, now place both thumbs in the opening and apply pressure until the upper red shell separates from the white abdomen shell.

Discarding the top shell, one is left with what appears to be a totally revolting carcass full of gills, intestines, membranes and multicolored goo. Take a deep breath and sip your beverage to ward off any gag reflex. Also, beware of wannabe crab connoisseurs who eat the gooey yellow and green “mustard” of the crab, claiming that it’s some sort of delicacy. Don’t be fooled – if it looks like crab guts, it’s probably crab guts.

Holding either side, crack the rest of the crab in half down the middle. If the guests haven’t completely lost their appetite by now, explain that it’s finally time to extract the meat. Pinching the paddle leg at the top joint, ease the lump of meat out of the carcass. Look at the morsel attached to the end of the leg. That’s as good as it gets, folks. Dip it in butter, drizzle it with lemon, and enjoy it for the nanosecond it lasts. It’s all pretty much downhill from there.

Take each of the other legs, and one by one, use the same pinching method to ease any attached meat out of the crab carcass. Then, if anyone hasn’t already fainted from starvation, break each of the tiny picker legs in half and suck out the minuscule bits of meat and juice, reserving the claw for last.

In order to avoid common claw-cracking injuries, goggles, helmets, Kevlar vests and steel-toed boots are advised. Using the provided wooden mallet, viciously pound the claw at the center joint to break open the shell. Be advised that fragments might fly across the table and hit other guests, or crab juice might squirt into someone’s hair. As long as no one is injured, firing crab shrapnel at your dinner guests is an acquired skill and should be considered part of the fun.

Once the claw meat has been extracted and eaten, repeat the aforementioned steps until all of the crabs have been picked. But don’t forget the last thing to be picked – which place you’re going to order pizza from when everyone complains they’re still hungry.

Read more at and in Lisa’s book, “The Meat and Potatoes of Life: My True Lit Com.” Email:

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