If there's one thing I've learned from moving to the east coast for college, it's that people here love their seafood. From salmon to shellfish and Maryland to Boston, they appreciate every part of a fresh catch. This love has formed itself into the summer tradition of a nice cookout turned crab fest. 

Not until halfway through college did I finally become the true easterner that I was meant to be by attending a crab fest and trying crab for the first time. There are many more taste tests to be had, but here are my first crab fest impressions. 

My Expectations

lobster, crab
Hunter Timm

I was ready to smash some crab. I pictured smashing the crab with a mallet and the meat falling out – simple and clean. Maybe this came from watching too many Red Lobster commercials growing up, since that was about all I knew, but I was ready to use my arm and see some butter flowing off the meat. 

My only real previous experience with shellfish was with shrimp in Spain, but I figured this would be easier considering the previously mentioned mallet. I was prepared for the concept of tearing my food from its original form and the mess that came along with it. 

The Actual Event

Grilling, grill, BBQ, steaks, sausage, steak, pork, beef, barbecue
Shelby Cohron

Easily just a barbecue with extra options, my first crab fest was a nice way to dip my toes by providing me with not just crab, but options off the grill, as well. 

I had never seen fresh, live crab so their blue color took me by surprise. Learning that crabs push each other into the boiling water was quite the touch to the whole experience. 

The Crab Itself

shrimp, prawn, goody, fish, shellfish, seafood, lobster, crab
Casey Irwin

My expectations were met with an added mess and strong taste. Much like fresh shrimp, it was as though I had tasted the ocean. Nothing could prepare me for both that fresh flavor and the shell cracking that was involved to get to it. 

Cracking the crab legs and body was nothing like cutting up my midwest steak. I was lucky a crowd did not form as I struggled to do so. Several times in the process I thought to myself "should I be eating this part?". The work it took to get any crab meat was met with an equal amount of satisfaction of the tasty crab that eventually followed. 

While I'm a midwesterner at heart, my stomach is a welcomed melting pot for all places, including the east. I have gained a new appreciation for crab-loving-folk as they know how to work for their meal. Next time I'm slathering on more butter and Old Bay, but for now I am happy to say I survived my first crab fest with my dignity intact.