Crabfest comes to Colorado Springs
The Gazette, Colorado Springs
October 14, 2008
You can take Richard Carson out of the East Coast, but you can't take the crab fest out of his heart.
Carson, who was transferred here from the East Coast 15 years ago when he worked for MCI, clings to his tradition of having an annual crab fest each fall. The Baltimore crab-picking tradition all starts with dozens of blue crabs being steamed, along with corn on the cob and new red potatoes. When everything is cooked it is dumped in the middle of the table, and everyone dives in. Rolls of paper towels come in handy as you pick through crab after crab.
"There were a bunch of us at MCI sitting around talking about how we missed our crab fest," Carson said. "We decided to order some crabs so we could have a big dinner."
That first year, about 10 couples got together to celebrate their New England traditions.
Bruce and Carolyn Boyce were among the MCI employees transferred here in 1993 and were part of the original crab-festgoers.
"The best part of the party each year is the crabs, of course," Bruce Boyce said.
And getting together with friends. "It's mostly the socialization that everyone enjoys," Carson said. "Get a bunch of friends together, have some beers and take your time picking the crabs. I call someone a junior picker if they only do a couple or three crabs. A senior picker will take hours to go through a bunch of crabs, getting every speck of meat."
This year's crab fest was held at his home Sept. 6 with about 75 guests. Carson ordered two bushels of blue crabs (about 6 1/2 dozen crabs in each bushel) from The Crab Place in Maryland, his favorite mail-order source.
"I've tried several other places, but I always get good, meaty crabs from this company," he said. "Every year, the crabs run a little different as far as how meaty they might be. We did a test run earlier, and I was disappointed in the crabs, and we were thinking this might be the first year we would not do a crab fest. But we did another practice run, and they (the crabs) were much better."
Carson has learned it's best to order the crabs already steamed.
"There is less waste this way," he said. "They season and steam them and ship them for delivery the next day."
When it's party time, he fires up a turkey-frying rig with a big 5-gallon pot - but instead of filling it with oil for frying, he gently reheats the cooked crabs.
"I use a mixture of beer and water to reheat the crabs," he said. "The Crab Place sends along more of their seasoning that I add as the hot crabs are served."
When the first batch is served up, his wife, Kim, dumps pans of steamed corn and new potatoes on tables covered with butcher paper. And the fest ensues. Because it takes a long time to really get enough crab meat to feel full, Richard also smokes some ribs and grills hot dogs and hamburgers. Guest bring side dishes.
Lisa and Ray Stevens, also East Coast transplants, brought a crockpot of Boston's Union Oyster House's recipe for clam chowder. The Union Oyster House is a popular restaurant in Boston. She got the recipe from a cookbook called "Favorite Recipes of New England."
"We love coming to this party," she said, "and really look forward to seeing everyone each year."
For the hard-core crab pickers, the party will carry on until the wee hours.
"There are always a few who end up spending the night," Richard laughed, "and if there are any crabs left in the morning we'll have those for breakfast."
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TO ORDER CRABS
Find the Crab Place at www.crabplace.com or call 1-877-328-2722 from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. After hours, a machine will take your voice mail message. Or leave a message online by clicking the contact link on the home page.