Back Forty Crab Boil: A Crabby Start to Summer

I’ve been trying not to eat out as often as I used to (like when I still had a steady source of income), but when one of Ryan’s friends invited us to a crab boil at Back Forty, I couldn’t say no. Each Tuesday during the summer, the East Village restaurant holds crab dinners, where diners sit around communal tables and tear into round after round of steamed blue crabs. The cost is a justifiable $40 per person — which includes sides and dessert, though no beer, unfortunately В — and the idea of practically all-you-can-eat seafood seemed too good to pass up.

So on Tuesday night, we arrived at Back Forty for the last seating. Our group was placed around a long table covered with newspaper and scattered with wooden mallets.

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After an appetizer of salt cod hush puppies, a server told us that the crabs, potatoes, and string beans would be served in three rounds. A few minutes later, another server came out carrying two metal buckets overflowing with crabs. He then upended buckets and dumped the crabs right onto the table.

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It was at that moment that I realized I had never eaten crabs with my bare hands before. I also hadn’t considered that a squeamish feeling might come over me when faced with the crabs. I’m a recovering vegetarian, but I’m not at the point where I feel all that comfortable with seafood and meat still looking like, well, the animals themselves.

I was able to push the squeamish thoughts out of my head as I followed the veteran crab eaters’ instructions on taking the crabs apart. I tried not to think about the fact that I was bashing a crab’s head with a wooden mallet, ripping half its body off, snapping the remainder in half, and pulling off its legs one by one. Luckily, the restaurant was too dark for me to get a good look at the eyes, guts and lungs.В

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After all the work dismantling the crab, eating the soft, flavorful meat was a treat. But since there wasn’t much meat in each crab, we had no trouble ripping apart and devouring all three rounds — as you can see from the rather gross-looking photo below.

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Third Big Apple BBQ, First Time Eating It

Somehow, attending the annual Big Apple BBQ has become a tradition for me, even though I didn’t eat meat until this year, and I only eat it in small quantities now. I think I always enjoyed going because it’s one of those New York outdoor events that brings together big groups of people — and BBQ from around the country — at the beginning of summer.

…plus, it always gave me an excuse to inhale a deep fried, Shake Shack shroom burger and black and white shake while everyone around me gorged on meat.

This year, Ryan and I went with a group of friends. As usual, Madison Square Park was packed by noon, and long lines stretched from the various BBQ tents. Each of our friends was dispatched to a different stand with strict orders to bring back two plates of each specialty. I, of course, headed to Shake Shack to get my shroom burger and black and white shake.В

Also as usual, the Shake Shack line took nearly twice as long as the longest BBQ line. By the time I had my order in hand, everyone else had been to their stands and was seated at a picnic table. An array of ribs, pulled pork sandwiches, smoked sausages, and beef brisket sat before us, and we cut everything into small pieces for easy sharing.

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Despite getting Shake Shack, I decided to try everything.

Maybe it’s because I’m finally at the point where eating meat no longer makes me feel nauseous afterwards, but I thought everything tasted great. The brisket and pulled pork were smoky and tender, and the sausage had a bit of a kick. I thought the ribs were a tad dry, but they had a nice flavor. I’ll defer to the meat eaters for the final verdict on everything, though, since six meatless years don’t make me the best BBQ judge. They said: The flavor was pretty good, but everything could use more of it via a bit more sauce.

Oh well. It’s not like anything really went to waste.

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