Crustacean Nation

We did not have crabs in Wisconsin. Crayfish, carp, crappie maybe. Crabs were something on the very festive high end of the menu at the local surf-n-turf. Prom night entrées. Anniversaries.

So you can imagine my surprise to be offered free crab my first winter in Oregon by my friend Marcia. She and Kyle had gone crabbing on the Oregon coast, gotten a license, rented a couple of pots, and in one afternoon wound up catching more than they could eat. Would I like a couple?

To tell the truth, I almost said no. I had no idea what a crab tasted like, but they looked really scary. Fortunately, they were already cooked, and there was no one to watch as I nervously dissected and timidly tasted the bugs.

They were wonderful, of course. Oregon Dungeness crabs are among the biggest and meatiest you can find in the lower 48. Handsome, too, reddish maroon to purple fresh, though of course they turn classic red after cooking.

I started painting them on pottery after my first visit to Anacortes, on the northern Washington coast. You'll find them on tall mugs, pasta bowls, dinner and dessert plates and pie (crab quiche?) plates.

They're my crab pots.