Before... (You don't want to see the after.)
Local soft shell crab dish photos are beginning to look like the exhumed remains from some forgotten bog — Ötzi the Iceman made manifest in crab form. Perhaps it's the stormy weather and lack of natural light, but the sheer race to get photos of a restaurant's soft shell crab offerings up are getting no favors from gloomily lit restaurants today.
Charred to a leather hue, plated with what looks like seaweed, or, better still, couscous masquerading as roe — as if the crab gave the greatest sacrifice by releasing the next generation then extinguished its own life — the latest batch of photos are no bueno.
Here, let me say what we're all thinking, soft shells look like shit. No, no, don't argue with me. They do. I agree, they're delicious, but let's not pretend softies are the top of the food porn pyramid.
They're a freak food group, our local balut. A cruel trick we play on molting crustaceans each spring. We snag them at their most vulnerable time, when they've shrugged off their exoskeleton like a dirty winter coat, and then we have the audacity to fry them in oil or baste them until their bloated bodies drip brown with butter. Poor things look like Trump but without the tanning bed goggle lines.
And that's OK. We'll eat them anyhow. But pump the brakes on the pics, restaurants. We'll come to your restaurants for these seasonal delicacies ... even without the softie porn.