20 February 2017

Crab Feed

I lived in San Francisco for over forty years and never heard of a crab feed, but up here in Petaluma they’re quite popular as fundraisers.

So what’s a crab feed?  Well, there’s some variability, but the basic crab feed seems to consist of selling tickets to benefit some charity by offering people an opportunity to gorge on crab and not much else in a convivial setting at which the entertainment consists of an auction and a raffle for donated items.  Well, and socializing at long tables with fellow feasters.

JoAnn took me to one at the Petaluma Woman’s Club that had the simple menu of fresh green salad, crusty French bread, and constantly replenished tubs of cold, perfectly cooked and cracked crab accompanied by bowls of melted butter and an excellent remoulade for dipping.  Beer and wine to drink.  They brought out servings of a rich chocolate cake afterwards, but i was too stuffed to eat mine.  Well, a few bites.  OK, half.

I fell in love with Dungeness crab the first time i tasted it back in the early seventies.  I’ve boiled it myself and eaten it in restaurants as a main course cracked and in various dishes, most especially cioppino, but i’d never actually gorged on it by itself.

Afterwards, i realized that i had, in my youth, done something similar.  In the west Texas oilfields in the fifties, the companies would truck in large quantities of fish and throw fish fries for their employees.  All the employees in a certain area would gather in a park to feast on cornmeal-battered fried catfish and fried potatoes.  There’d be tubs of iced beer for the adults and soda pops for the kids.  The adults were more abstemious, as it wouldn’t do to get drunk at a company picnic, but the kids seized the opportunity to drink soda after soda since all our mothers limited us to one a day at home, but there was no way they could keep track of how many we were drinking as we ran wild in the park.  Naturally, everyone ate as much fish as he could hold, especially since fish was a treat out in the desert.

Our ancestors on the savanna of course gorged when they’d managed to kill something large, but i imagine the social aspect didn’t develop until after agriculture and the harvest festival made it possible to simultaneously feast on food and social interaction, such a wonderful combination that i need to find another crab feed to attend before the season ends.

Meanwhile, here’s a shot of the crab feed inside the Woman’s Club.

Petaluma Woman's Club crab feed

Love those craftsman beams.

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