Spider-Roll World

When crabbers pull their pots from the water, they quickly identify the crabs that are about to molt. The color on the edge of the backfins is different.

Crabs that are outgrowing their shells slip out of the back of the old hard shell. They emerge as delectible little creatures that can be eaten whole.

There is no greater pleasure on earth than to devour an entire fried soft-shell crab in a few bites, consuming every cell of the organism in a chomping frenzy of bliss.

But supervising crabs that are about to molt requires great vigilance. The crabber must check his tanks every couple of hours and remove a newly emerged soft-shell crab for immediate refrigeration. Otherwise, the other crabs in the tank will cannibalize the defenseless one, or its shell will quickly harden.

So the faithful crabber interrupts his sleep like a monk to keep watch over the tank of molting ‘peelers.’ He does it so that that you and I can go to a restaurant and order soft-shell crab.

Yes, there are many things wrong with this world. But let’s not take the good things for granted.

Bread, Meat…Happiness

I am frankly surprised at myself. I am disappointed in my bad priorities. I have been blogging furiously for over a month, and I have yet to address a topic of enormous importance, a topic none of us can afford to ignore: Sandwiches.

A sandwich can simply be a matter of reaching into the fridge: mayonnaise, sliced ham and/or turkey, and–in the best of all possible worlds–hydroponic lettuce. From the bread basket: a nice big loaf of nutty whole-wheat bread. One knife and three minutes later: Utter satisfaction.

A sandwhich could be a matter of saying to oneself: Hot or cold? Hot or cold? Why the ‘or’? Hot and cold is what I am talking about. Three slices of bacon in the frying pan, two slices of white toast in the toaster, a crisp slice of tomato, two supple leaves of romaine, mayo…oh, yes.

Perhaps we are actually talking about a quick trip to Quizno’s. Or Subway.

It used to be that Quizno’s won that contest, hands-down. a) They were alone in toasting their sandwiches. b) Their combination of flavorful breads and sauces is truly creative. (Some people swear by Potbelly Sandwich Works. To me, their sandwiches are on the petite side. Plus, I am not into getting a can of Coke.)

On the excellent subject of Quizno’s, let me tell you a story. I had just finished an all-day bike ride. The sun was setting as I emerged with a hot chicken carbonara. I hung the bag on the handlebars, and then I bent down to undo my combination lock. As I did, I got a noseful of hot-sandwich aroma that was sweeter than any perfume or incense. I was looking forward to eating that sandwich with a kind of anticipation that only a chaste groom on his wedding day could appreciate.

At just that moment, a lovely young lass approached me and said, “Can you tell me where the Starbucks is?” The Starbucks was right behind her. I am not flattering myself. She had plainly seen the Starbucks. I am not Tom Cruise, but…

A sequence of thoughts ran through my mind like a train: Even if I were not a priest–even if I did not strive to behave like a Christian gentleman at all times–even if I did not fear the fires of hell–if you try to seduce me right now–if you try to wrestle me into a car to ravish me–I will fight you with every ounce of strength I possess, so that I can get home and eat this sandwich while it is still hot.

I pointed to the Starbucks without uttering a word and then rode like the wind back home.

Getting back to the question at hand, though: Quizno’s is sublime, but Subway has made a comback. Now Subway toasts. Now Subway has some pretty excellent sauces, especially sweet onion. It’s hard to justify paying twice as much at Quizno’s. On the other hand, Quizno’s has the superior Italian cold-cut.

Sometimes a sandwich is a matter of: egg salad. There is a deli down the street from me where they make a mean egg-salad sandwich. But the best egg salad I have ever eaten is produced by my brother priest, Fr. Mark Tucker. Sunday-afternoon egg-salad sandwiches in his rectory back when I was a seminarian are some of the most pleasant memories of life.

I am not a fan of seafood restaurants. Seafood is generally over-priced and underwhelming. But sometimes I have to go to seafood restaurants, because people tend to like them. Whenever I walk in the door, I beg God that the menu will include: Soft-shell crab sandwich. This is one of the most fun sandwiches you can get. There is all kind of little creature in there. Claws and flippers sticking out. If you lift up the bread, you can take a quick look at the beady little eyes. Nothing is more virile than consuming an entire organism between two slices of bread.

There is so much more to say on the subject of sandwiches. Please chime in with some juicy comments.