Stone Is Best, Mon
It was a cloudy, blustery day on Vaca Key and we had just walked the 2 miles and back on the old bridge that connects Vaca Key with Pigeon Key. From the bridge we were able to watch a GIANT spotted eagle ray gliding gracefully, a school of nurse sharks, what looked like a hawksbill turtle, some brown groupers, needlefish, mermaid-sized (and shaped) blue fish, strange tie-dye colored fish (on their way to a jam band show?) and more. During the walk, I told K that the concept of "catch-and-release" wasn't accepted by Japanese anglers until quite recently.
"We eat everything we fish," I explained. "If you can't eat it, don't fish it. If you have enough to eat, stop fishing." I was a bit upset by a small pile of hand-sized fish that were left to rot on a grassy knoll near the start of the old bridge. And perhaps it's this attitude of "but we make use of everything we catch..." that makes so many Japanese feel defensive about their whaling. It was never a culture to kill for sport, unlike the West, so I think many Japanese feel the Western World is being completely hypocritical in their criticism of Japanese whaling. I, for one, don't support whaling and I'm sorry that it affects the livelihoods of some families, but you gotta stop somewhere! Just because families depend on logging doesn't mean you can go and cut down old growth redwoods, you know? But I digress.
"Do you sell fish?" Big Dog asked the rubber apron man.
"In the office," he pointed.
The office was just that. An office. No fish in sight. Anywhere. Just "Raymond" manning one of the desks and a few others in the back office.
"Do you sell retail?" we had to keep asking.
"Sure. Mostly wholesale, to the restaurants, but we sell to individuals, too."
He gave us a list of what they had and we wound up buying some fresh yellowtail, some fresh stone crab claws and some fresh-frozen tuna. All of the fish was stored somewhere beyond our prying eyes!
"The claws are fresh and won't last long. Make sure you crack them outside because they'll squirt all over the place," advised Raymond who had grown up on Vaca Key.
About an hour later, Big Dog was bashing the living daylights out of the stone crab claws with some barbeque tools. We had no hammer and the tire jack in the car was our last resort. I wish he had let me take some photos before cracking the claws, though. They were so pretty, like coral, cream and black parrot beaks! And so we admired them for about 10 seconds before we began our giant crab claw pig-out.
"They're so sweet and tasty!"
"....." (Big Dog rarely makes his enjoyment vocal.)
I was feeling a little sorry for the poor guys who'll be clawless for a while, but I always take the words of my angler brother to heart: "They sacrificed themselves for your pleasure. You HAVE TO enjoy them to the max." We did.