Maryland’s favorite blue crabs are arriving on Italy’s dinner tables shell-on, halved, and nestled in a bed of linguini.
Have the Italian chefs behind the curious new dish steamed them? Unclear. But there’s definitely no spicy seasoning, mallets nor newspaper tablecloth involved.
Nonetheless, Mediterranean cooks are working the crustaceans into dishes in the midst of devastating blue crab invasion. They’re getting creative with the backing of €2.9 million from the Italian government earmarked to reduce the invasive species from Italian waterways.
A two-minute video from the Associated Press posted online Monday offers an idea of how some chefs are helping Italy eat its way out of its blue crab problem — and the clip might send a shiver down the spine of any Maryland purist.
In one shot, a knife slices along the apron of an uncooked crab, unleashing enough yellow goo to make even the most steadfast “mustard” fans gag. The crab appears later on a plate, cooked this time, but still in its shell atop a pile of pasta. Uffa!
The blue crabs are believed to have first crossed the Atlantic Ocean in bilge water aboard cargo ships. They have since devastated Italy’s clam industry, having eaten up to 90% of young clams in some areas.
Back home, generations of Marylanders have harbored strong opinions on the proper technique for preparing, picking and eating blue crabs. And they’ve jeered at poorly executed Maryland crab cakes served in other states.
The government might consider earmarking some funding for a shipment of seasoning and a couple of Zoom consultations with Maryland chefs.