WBEZ | Robert Elwood http://www.wbez.org/tags/robert-elwood Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Crabs feel pain, and I was an incidental professional crustacean torturer http://www.wbez.org/blogs/louisa-chu/2013-01/crabs-feel-pain-and-i-was-incidental-professional-crustacean-torturer <p><p style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/louisachu/3631091715/"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/crabsitkafeed.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Dungeness crab with drawn butter at the All-You-Can-Eat Crab Feed in Sitka, Alaska (WBEZ/Louisa Chu)" /></a></p><p><span style="text-align: start;">Crabs feel pain, says <a href="http://jeb.biologists.org/content/216/3/353">a new study published&nbsp;</a></span><a href="http://jeb.biologists.org/content/216/3/353">in the<em>&nbsp;Journal of Experimental Biology&nbsp;</em></a>by <a href="http://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/SchoolofBiologicalSciences/People/ProfessorRWElwood/">Robert Elwood,</a><a href="http://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/SchoolofBiologicalSciences/People/ProfessorRWElwood/">professor of animal behaviour</a> at Queen&#39;s University in Belfast.&nbsp;Despite the media&nbsp;feeding frenzy, this should not be news. Previous to this study with wild shore crabs, Elwood published related studies on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg19626294.800-lobster-pain-may-prick-diners-consciences.html">prawns in 2007</a> and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0003347209000712">hermit crabs in 2009</a>.&nbsp;His conclusion: Crustaceans feel pain.</p><p>But with the <a href="http://www.oregonlive.com/business/index.ssf/2013/01/oregons_dungness_crab_season_o.html">late Dungeness crab season opener</a> off Oregon last week, and even the <a href="http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/12/19/3148757/stone-crab-season-suffers-in-the.html">suffering stone crab season</a> off the Florida Keys, as home to <a href="http://www.bobchinns.com/">Bob Chinn&#39;s Crab House</a>, the <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/dorothypomerantz/2012/07/18/how-bob-chinns-crab-house-became-the-highest-grossing-restaurant-in-the-u-s/">highest grossing restaurant in this country</a>, this is news that bears repeating now in the Great Middle West.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/louisachu/3631935734/"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/crabsitkalive.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Live Dungeness crab on boat in Alaska (WBEZ/Louisa Chu)" /></a></div><div class="image-insert-image ">It&#39;s no secret that I love eating crab, from the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/louisa-chu/2012-06/tabled-manners-soft-shell-crab-royale-100067">soft-shell crab sandwich</a> at Lula to the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/louisa-chu/2012-08/what-i-did-my-summer-vacation-sitka-seafood-festival-2012-101783">seafood chowder with local &quot;Dungys&quot;</a>&nbsp;at the Sitka Seafood Festival in Alaska.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">What I have harbored is my past as an&nbsp;incidental professional crustacean torturer. I am not proud of it. I knew better and do not take it lightly.</div><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/louisachu/3631906668/"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/crabsitkabutter.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Mr. Butter coffeemaker as butter-melter at Crab Feed in Sitka, Alaska" /></a></div><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: left;">When I worked at one restaurant in Paris, I was personally responsible for torturing dozens of live <em>écrevisses</em>&nbsp;(crayfish) every day, many thousands by the time I left that station. I was told to tear them in half, before sautéing the tails in a huge copper pan with olive oil, a few cloves of unpeeled garlic, strands of fresh thyme, then deglazing with&nbsp;Cognac &mdash; and I did.</div><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: left;">I&#39;ve lost track of all the live crustaceans I&#39;ve dismembered, but most memorable were wild spider crabs, with bodies as big as softballs, and&nbsp;Brittany blue lobsters, the latter which I also cooked whole.</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/crabsitkamallets.jpg" style="height: 412px; width: 620px;" title="Crab cracking table with mallets at Crab Feed in Sitka, Alaska (WBEZ/Louisa Chu)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: left;">&quot;Is it all right to boil a sentient creature alive just for our gustatory pleasure?&quot; asked&nbsp;David Foster Wallace in his provacative 2004 essay &quot;<a href="http://www.gourmet.com/magazine/2000s/2004/08/consider_the_lobster">Consider the Lobster</a>&quot; for the late, great <em>Gourmet</em> magazine, later included in his <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0316013323?ie=UTF8&amp;creativeASIN=0316013323&amp;tag=lklchu-20">book by the same title</a>.</div><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: left;">The simple solution would be not to eat crustaceans at all, a decision I respect. As individuals, what&#39;s considered most humane is chilling first then splitting or spiking the brain. Restaurants and processors now have access to a beautifully designed&nbsp;electro-stunning appliance: <a href="http://www.crustastun.com/">the Crustastun</a>. &quot;The world&#39;s only compassionate stunning system&quot; made its American <a href="http://youtu.be/OF_Q-SPXhUw">debut at the 2009 National Restaurant Association show</a> in Chicago (and yes, does have a Simpsons-esque name).</div><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: left;">Elwood&#39;s studies are not about the crab in every pot, but animal welfare worldwide. I&#39;m guessing he&#39;ll be back in a few years to remind us again with a new study, but I&#39;m hoping someday, he won&#39;t need to.</div></div></div><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/louisachu/3631091761/"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/crabsitkaplates.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Crab Feed plate, plus dessert cakes (WBEZ/Louisa)" /></a></div></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></p> Wed, 23 Jan 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/louisa-chu/2013-01/crabs-feel-pain-and-i-was-incidental-professional-crustacean-torturer