The second part of my day in Red Hook I spent right next door from Hometown BBQ, at Brooklyn Crab. As one might imagine, there’s a lot of seafood here. The wait here can get really long, so get here early and put your name on the list and wander the neighborhood until they call you. Or you can kill time with some beers and some snacks at the bar downstairs, or in the back patio, where you can play cornhole. A dozen beautiful blue crabs, doused in Old Bay and served up hot on a tray. My family grew up on seafood, a love of mollusks and bivalves and shellfish and crustaceans of all sorts. It’s a very hands-on love, a painful love, of hard work and dedication, because we do not believe in crab crackers or mallets or bibs, just hands and teeth and lips.
For my family, eating seafood is a deeply visceral experience of stained fingers and aching molars and weathered lips almost pruny from the salt, of process and old-timer tricks, knowledge of the tradition. Knowledge of the sweet curd of the crab roe and the sweeter-still butter of brains, pouring out of the split shell, and the highest sweetness of succulent white flesh, pried from its cage with no shortage of effort and maneuvering.