Stuffed Crabs, Crab Cakes and The Google

Without anything really interesting to blog about, today will be a brief entry on the stuffed crab I had for dinner last night.

Of course, as I was thinking, “this is going to be about a 3 sentence entry,” some ideas began to flow.

I remember when we were kids and would drive to Houma to visit family. On the way back to New Orleans we always would stop in Des Allemands (the catfish capital of the world–take a look at the Catfish Queens here). We would pull up to this nice little white house off the bayou, park in the shell driveway, and a little old lady would come out to greet us on the back porch. Her name was Mrs. Matherne, and she sold seafood goodies out of the chest freezer on her screened-in porch. Pete’s Mom and Dad would always buy a dozen or so stuffed crabs.

I don’t remember what else they bought from Mrs. Matherne; I just remember the stuffed crabs. Why? Two reasons. First, I was a pretty picky eater back then and would not eat them. Second was the fact that the stuffing in stuffed crabs is stuffed into a crab shell, which, to a third grader, is pretty fascinating.

Even more fascinating is the fact that most commercially produced stuffed crabs were stuffed into “robo-crab” shells–fake crab shells stamped out of aluminum; I guess for food safety reasons. The aluminum shells are enough of an icon around here to have been included in the Historic New Orleans Collection’s exhibition What’s Cooking in New Orleans?: Culinary Traditions of the Crescent City. The exhibition catalog lists them as:

Box of artificial crab shells
mid-20th century; paper, aluminum by
Lorco Industries, manufacturer

courtesy of the George F. Herding Collection

There’s a current picture of one here; you can order 1000 of them for $78.50.

You don’t see stuffed crabs in restaurants around here much anymore. I remember Tom Fitzmorris talking on this subject at some point, that the East Coast-style crab cake has taken over on the menus of most New Orleans restaurants.

Here’s where the Google comes in. A search for the phrase “crab cakes” yields 1,010,000 results. A search for “stuffed crabs” returns only 12,000. Does this mean stuffed crabs are only 1.1% as popular as crab cakes? I don’t know why, although Pete’s Mom makes a heckuva crab cake. (I would try to tell my nine-year old nephew they were real Krabby Patties from the Krusty Krab, but he’s too smart to fall for that foolishness).

Last night’s stuffed crab was from the Gourmet Butcher Block. It was in a real crab shell and pretty darn good. I still have a frozen crabmeat au gratin I bought there that I’m really looking forward to now. For the past couple of years I was buying “Nick & Katie’s” brand stuffed crabs; they can be found around town at different stores and are pretty darn good, too.

Recipes found through the Google here and here.

2 Responses to Stuffed Crabs, Crab Cakes and The Google

  1. Pete's Mama on April 26, 2007 at 7:07 pm

    Pete’s taste buds have really matured over the years. What fond memories!

  2. www.nolanotes.com on April 27, 2007 at 5:37 pm

    Dem Queens is killing me! I need more info on them!!!

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