We should have known something was up when the waitress brought us a stack of napkins two feet tall.
Scanning the other diners as subtly as possible with a two-foot tall stack of napkins on our table, we had the only stack. All the other diners had the customary single serving.
Then came the nut crackers. Uh-oh. This was not shaping up well at all. Nope, not at all.
We had discovered a great Chinese restaurant with an extensive menu of dishes we'd never had. Exciting dim sum. Clay pots with this and that. Grouper head soup. *pass* And a lot of curry dishes.
I like what the Chinese do with curry. Definitely not the same as Indian or Indonesian. You don't find it everywhere.
"Let's have curried crab."
OK, I said, a little dubious. I've had lots of things in curry: chicken, lamb, vegetables, shrimp, fish, even mushrooms. Never crab. I tried to imagine what it would be like and in my fantasy I saw a thick, crab rich sauce over rice. Yeah, that might work.
"OK, crab curry for two!" I ordered cheerfully.
Fifteen minutes later the napkins arrived. Hmmmm. Five minutes after that the nut crackers arrived. Visions of a crab laden sauce over rice began to fade.
Finally, the waitress brought our dish: a platter of curry-drenched crabs. Whole. Barely dead. Sort of like bar-b-que ribs with the bone on the outside.
Let's don't talk about messy. All I'll say about the experience is that we had to ask for more napkins. After nearly an hour of hammering, picking, broken fingernails, cursing in several languages and flashbacks to a marina in Baltimore, we threw in the towel, several towels, actually, and just gave up.
In front of us was utter devastation. Crab shell everywhere. Legs. Feet. Parts I couldn't identify if I were a marine biologist. All covered in curry. Our fingers are yellow to this day. And after all that hacking and cracking and picking and scraping we had managed to get possibly, just possibly, about a teaspoon of crab meat.
OK, so I don't know how to eat a crab. It's not a crime in Texas, you know. Well, not yet at least.
We paid our bill, read our fortune cookie that said something like "You will soon lose weight" and set off for the car.
Once on the road I commented casually "Hey, I'm feeling a little peckish. How 'bout a taco or something?"
"Yeah, like a taco and a couple of enchiladas."
"Yeah, and a couple of tamales and a basket of chips and a few margaritas."
"OK, let's go, but we musn't eat too much. It will spoil our dinner."
"I know just what you mean."