What, Are Tentacles Out of Season?

My boss, feeling that his devoted and talented Advertising staff had kicked quite a substantial amount of ass last quarter, took us all out for lunch Friday and then to the Seattle Art Museum to see the Roman Art from the Louvre exhibit. It was, overall, a delightful time though the experience did ironically force me to endure a level of inelegance for which I was terribly unprepared. More on that in a bit.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Pacific Northwest region of the U.S., the city of Seattle is located on a waterfront, which is to say that being downtown is much like being in an open-air fish cannery only with less mackerel blood and more hobo urine. Pretty much everything along the waterfront itself is, as you would imagine, maritime themed. This is because it is impossible to think about anything else when your every sense is being assaulted by the countless and odious essences that waft in off the ocean. When all you see are water and wood pilings; when chum is the only aroma; when you open your mouth to say something and immediately taste brine; when the din of seagulls, ships and foghorns becomes a white noise; when everything you touch is either slimy or gritty… well, let’s just say an environment like that does not readily inspire visions of shiny technology and fine woodworking and glossy metropolitan chic. No, when you’re on the waterfront, you feel like a fisherman – from the cracked lips and cold ears right on down to the unending desire to drink yourself dead.

But if sea life and all its related rankness don’t perturb you too badly, there are some really neat things to see, such as the peculiarities at Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe. There’s nothing like looking at a two-headed calf suspended in a jar of formaldehyde to make you forget how disgusting the waterfront is.

Seattle’s fish district is an enormous tourist attraction. This is because tourists think anything so drastically different than home is worth spending far too much money to experience. Hell, people will shell out thirty clams per person just for the opportunity to eat actual clams the way I imagine actual hyenas might eat actual clams. Which brings me to the irony I mentioned earlier of becoming completely repulsed during an excursion to view some of the most beautiful artwork in human history.

It so happens that the Seattle Art Museum resides very close to the waterfront. It shouldn’t surprise anyone to learn it was decided lunch would also be enjoyed consumed on this selfsame locale. It makes sense after all, doesn’t it? Consider: the museum is in Seattle. Seattle is a port city. Therefore, logic dictates lunch absolutely must consist of boiled crustaceans and mollusks. Anything else would unthread the very fabric of universal reason that holds the universe together. And so it was that reservations had been acquired at a lovely little wharf-front eatery known as The Crab Pot. I had been informed prior to the event that The Crab Pot was one of those novelty restaurants – you know, places that feel the need to adopt a gimmick in order to peddle their (in this case smelly and offensive) wares. This, I was assured, meant good times for all.

Oh, and in case it’s not painfully evident by now, I absolutely detest seafood.

So we arrive at the so-called “restaurant” and sit down to a thirteen-foot-long table covered with…

…wait for it…

butcher paper. As far as I can tell, someone’s going to slaughter a hammerhead right there in front of us as we enjoy our complimentary bread and water*. And then I spy my first random disgusting item: a saltshaker covered in the resultant goop of someone else’s seafood-crazed orgasm. Beginning at the moment my cerebral cortex decoded the visual data, my desire to eat lasted about as long as a virtual electron-positron pair. That’s a fancy way of saying I immediately lost my appetite.

Nevertheless, I ordered the Colossal Burger, one of only three meat offerings not of the cold-blooded variety. And for the record, a forty-two pound wad of ground beef on a bun was the smallest portion I could order. There was no Moderation Burger. I guess in their zealous love of seafood, they figured whoever ordered a cheeseburger at a fish joint deserved to force down half a cow – it would be their own fault for hating fish and being in Seattle at the same time.

Pretty much everyone else ordered The Westport, or as I like to call it, The Shellfish Orgy. Have a look at the pictures that follow and you will quickly realize that as a hater of all seafood, I was in hell. I must apologize to my dear friend Cat who recently hosted an affair that I have to assume was very similar. All I can say is I don’t get you fishmongers.

As you can see, they just come along and dump bowls of briny bits right onto the table. Clams, mussels, shrimp, two kinds of crab, Andouille sausage, corn on the cob, and red potatoes all piled right there in front of you like so much animal fodder. Note that those nubby little cobs would be every bit as at home in a pig’s trough.

Your silverware consists of a shrimp fork and a wooden mallet. You just bib up and start in crushing exoskeletons with a hammer! That’s the elegance of the seaport. No point in concerning yourself with dishes or hygiene, laddie; you might be sucked overboard on the morrow! So roll up your sleeves and revel in the salty, smelly moment! Revel up to your armpits!

Real sailors and fishermen, I’m told, don’t bother to de-poop their shrimp, either.

Well, it’s time for me to go upstairs and spend some time with Karin (she’s been away all weekend house-sitting for her aunt), so I’m going to end this here. Come on back in a few days for the thrilling conclusion wherein I relate what it was like to stand two inches away from sculptures that were carved out several millennia ago.

*Have you ever noticed that bread and water are the staple complimentary items at both American restaurants and Turkish prisons?

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About kirkstarr

I draw pictures for a living.
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39 Responses to What, Are Tentacles Out of Season?

  1. Karin says:

    I know you don't like seafood but I look at that pile of crab legs and wish I had been there. I am sure you wish that I had been there instead of you!

  2. I-Luv-Eeyore says:

    ewwweee…I really like seafood, but this story makes it sound (and look) extremely unappetizing.
    I hope you were able to eat/enjoy your huge burger…can't wait for the next installment.

  3. Josh says:

    friggin' hilarious, kirk…well written

  4. Jay says:

    I bet those dining boards there are plen-T sanitary too. Nothing in cracked wooden planks to hold any nasty remnants of the last 300 people to eat off them. Nosiree. Clean as the deck of a trawler, they be.Let's just say, if I see plastic bibs on the patrons, I eat elsewhere.

  5. SweetMisery says:

    lmao. I have been to Seattle a few times. I did enjoy the Pikes Market. Watching those guys throw the fish around. I lived in Portland for 9 years (ate a lot of oysters). Then I moved to Lincoln City on the coast. Must admit I loved it. There was this little stand called Barnacle Bills and you could get a paper cup of crap or shrimp. I love crap. They even have crap pizza. Hope you aren't retching at this point. The Northwest is an interesting place. I was married to a charter sea captain. That didn't last long. lol

  6. kalita says:

    That is really disgusting.
    I like seafood.. when the seafood is (fresh!) prawns (or shrimp, I guess you guys call it), or fish. You can smell the disgustingness from the photos. I am glad it was you there and not me, Kirk.
    (also, that line in all your photos is completely distracting me now that I've noticed it)

  7. Scott says:

    "Sloppy Seconds Salt Shaker" … BLEAH! Enough said right there. 🙂

  8. Kirk says:

    "…also, that line in all your photos is completely distracting me now that I've noticed it…"My cell phone takes lousy photos. What can I say?

  9. Kirk says:

    "I hope you were able to eat/enjoy your huge burger…"Well, you know, one can't expect a seafood joint to care much about getting a burger right, but all things considered, it was pretty good. The fries were cold, but the burger was so enormous that I didn't really need them.

  10. Kirk says:

    "I did enjoy the Pikes Market. Watching those guys throw the fish around." I must confess I find that rather entertaining myself. 🙂 If you're going to smell fish everywhere, you might as well get to see a few go zinging through the air once in a while. I've never seen them drop one, either.

  11. Kirk says:

    "I look at that pile of crab legs and wish I had been there."I'd do it again for you, babe. 🙂 But it's required you buy at least two orders, so we'd have to take Zach with us.

  12. SweetMisery says:

    Nope they got it down to a science. lol

  13. tom says:

    I'm clumsy enough that I try to avoid food with shrapnel and cudgels. Just give me the andouille sausage and corn on the cob, but to hell with those little "fun size" coblettes. My attitude is that if it resembles an actual sea creature, I'll pass. If it's breaded or battered and fried? I'm in.

  14. lauowolf says:

    I have the opposite problem.Love seafood.I grew up in Maryland, with bags of steamed crabs coming home regularly.Yum.But Sair turned herself into a vegetarian when she was about ten — and frankly didn't much like any kinds of formerly live foods before that — and I just can't do that kind of eating in front of her.She isn't pushy about it at all.I just can't do it.Sigh.Maybe when she goes off to college I will spend the winter having orgies of shellfish.(But don't worry, I won't post any pictures.)

  15. I have been there. Literally – I ate there. Once.

    And then I spy my first random disgusting item: a saltshaker covered in the resultant goop of someone else’s seafood-crazed orgasm.
    *shudders* That is so gross, isn't it? Thanks to your wonderful writing skills, you took me right back there…only this time I laughed and enjoyed it. 🙂

  16. RedScylla says:

    Hey, at least in Turkish prisons you don't have to try to choke down your water amidst a miasma of boiled seafood. I dunno. I like a little seafood. A fish here, a shrimp there, but <gag> at the prospect of being fed like pigs at the trough. I'm sorry, but wasn't the whole point of the Revolution to ensure we could all eat on plates instead of WOODEN PLANKS?

  17. Kirk says:

    "If it's breaded or battered and fried? I'm in."I can choke it down that way. Places like Skipper's are quite popular. What does it say about seafood that so many people can only palate it after it's been coated in sugary breading and slathered in tartar sauce?

  18. Kirk says:

    "Thanks to your wonderful writing skills, you took me right back there…only this time I laughed and enjoyed it." Well, that's really what it's all about: making you feel my pain in a way that is enjoyable. Thanks for confirming it was successful. 😛

  19. Kirk says:

    "I'm sorry, but wasn't the whole point of the Revolution to ensure we could all eat on plates instead of WOODEN PLANKS?" Yeah, see, I don't understand camping for much the same reasons. I'm not a OCD or anything, but I definitely have issues with compromised hygiene.I suddenly feel the urge to clarify that I was sincerely appreciative of the outing. Cracking all these jokes about the meal might make me seem like an ungrateful asshole, but nothing could be further from the truth. I was certainly revolted by the eating arrangements, but it was WELL worth enduring that so I could spend several hours looking at Roman sculpture (which I'll be writing about today).

  20. RedScylla says:

    Well, and maybe you were better able to enjoy all that sculpture and culture, having just had a run-in with humanity's more animal nature. The only attraction to camping is being far from other people in beautiful nature. Which is why I don't get campgrounds…so, I gotta sleep in a tent and go without a shower, while surrounded by drunk hillbillies?

  21. Cat says:

    Ahh Kirk..believe it or not looking at your pics actually made me hungry…Don't hold it against me..I'm a coonass girl and shellfish just well..it gets me hot and bothered..mmmm. It's not for everyone though…I understand that..and the shellfish we had at our affair was much better looking than what you had there..I'll take crawfish over crab any day…that corn almost made me giggle..so small!!I can't wait to read installment #2!!

  22. Steve Betz says:

    You know the brown-paper crab fest is a staple on the Chesapeake Bay as well. Some of my favorite places give you a roll of paper towels and a fork, that's about it. Oh — and the guys get beer in cans, and the ladies get a glass — but its usually dirty so just drink out of the can.
    You can also have a pretty darn good crustacean fest in Mexico.

  23. I am soooo craving seafood right now. 😉 I am very suggestible when it comes to enjoying fruits of the sea. After we went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, I made Mr. EF go out for seafood because all of the fish made me hungry (yes, there is something profoundly wrong with me). Though, I do loathe residual goo on shared condiments at restaurants and the fact that should you stray from the main attraction of a restaurant, you will be forced to endure too much of whatever limited options are left to you. Sorry you had a less than stellar time, but thanks for the food porn.

  24. IG says:

    "After we went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, I made Mr. EF go out for
    seafood because all of the fish made me hungry.". OMG, me too, ef! Mr. IG and I love the Monterey Bay Aquarium and used to go as often as we could…but Mr. IG would always have to feed me first, or I'd end up wondering aloud which fish in the tank would be the tastiest. Kirk: Having grown up in a seafood-loving, generally omnivorous culture, I have to say, that table looks fantastic to me. I do understand what you're saying about hygiene, however. I'd want my salt shakers to be cleaned off between orgies, please. Also, my people eat off banana leaves rather than wooden planks. Would that be acceptable to you? The leaves are one-time use only, and can impart a lovely flavor to the food.

  25. Kirk says:

    Heh. I knew when I wrote this that a lot of my peeps are big fish lovers, and that many of you would think I was crazy. I also knew these pix would make lotsa people hungry. I mean, just look at the way my coworkers were going at it."Also, my people eat off banana leaves rather than wooden planks. Would
    that be acceptable to you? The leaves are one-time use only, and can
    impart a lovely flavor to the food."Yes, one-time use banana leaves would be perfectly fine, but I doubt they'd add enough lovely flavor to fish to make me consider it "food". ;-P

  26. IG says:

    LOL. I wish I could say that my omnivorous ways are rubbing off on my seafood-averse Midwestern in-laws, but honestly I think it might be the other way around. The longer I live here and partake of the faux-fish sticks and tartar sauce, the more I sorta understand where they're coming from… My MIL firmly believes that shrimp are sea bugs, and it's getting harder for me not to see them the same way. So I ask you: if someone chops up the lobster or crab or fish or whatever, to make a sandwich or a salad — is that yummy? Or still eww?

  27. Kirk says:

    "My MIL firmly believes that shrimp are sea bugs…"I have described them that way myself. And crabs are just giant ocean spiders. Most people wouldn't eat that stuff it was crawling around on land, so why eat it when it comes out of the icky, stinky sea? I don't get it."So I ask you: if someone chops up the lobster or crab or fish or whatever, to make a sandwich or a salad — is that yummy? Or still eww?"Still eww, because it goes beyond how the stuff looks (though that little beady shrimp eye staring at me is definitely disconcerting). I honestly think fish tastes terrible. Had a salad one time that contained a small amount of shrimp. Believe me when I say I knew it was in there instantly. I turned green.

  28. Sea bugs or not, they are tasty. Someone once told me that the lobster is related to the roach, I suppose in an effort to dampen my ardor for it. No such luck. While I can't even look at a roach, I can completely crack and devour a lobster in just a few minutes. I suppose it's all a matter of taste and comfort. Like Jules said in Pulp Fiction, sewer rats may taste like pumpkin pie, but he'd never know because he'd never try. While I don't think I'd go that far, I am so not above sea bugs. And fish cooked in banana leaves is one of my absolute favorites. I think what strikes me the most about this is that you describe getting a mouthful of brine as something not to be overjoyed about. That sensation is one of the most pleasurable, most full of memories for me. I would wake up in the mornings when we lived in Hawaii with salt on my tongue, in my nostrils, and know it was going to be a beautiful day. I still dream about it. Perhaps it is the difference between being exposed to a warm, tropical environment where you can plunge into the ocean and the Pacific Northwest, where it is gorgeous, but freezing.

  29. I should warn you about eating out in a locals' taverna in Greece then. All foods are served on communial platters, where everyone just puts his own fork in and eats and then returns their fork to the same platter and digs in again. Shrimp and crab are for wussies. We eat squid and octopus charbroiled and snails that need a little safety pin uncoiled so you can pull the little fellow out of his shell where he hid hoping to escape being steamed. And whole fish — not 'cakes, mind, – but the kind with the bones still in. My son's favourite part of the fish when he was a toddler were the eyes. He'd walk around the table and ask his uncles and grandmother if he could eat the eyes outof their portions, too. It was his favourite mealtime diversion, but I warned him when he started kindergarten not to spread that around to the other children, because we still lived in NY weren't many Greeks or Italians in his class who'd say ," Yum – I hear ya, bro," instead of "Ewww."
    Well,now that's food. I guess this means are friendship will never be the same…….
    How do you feel about lamb brains?
    ; )

  30. Kirk says:

    "We eat squid and octopus charbroiled…"Takes a lot of guts to talk about that in these parts. Great Cthulhu might hear you. And he'll just eat you raw; no charbroiling necessary. :PBut seriously… fish eyes!? I can't even stomach tapioca! What's he now that he's older, I wonder.Regarding brains: I don't eat organs. Period. Well, maybe the skin off of a piece of chicken, but even that has to be done just right.

  31. But seriously… fish eyes!? I can't even stomach tapioca! What's he now that he's older, I wonder.
    He's studying film and music and university, but he is sooo into zombie movies. I'm thinking of ordering him one of your tees….

  32. Kirk says:

    "…but he is sooo into zombie movies…"Ah, now I understand your question regarding my taste in brains. :PI left the word "eat" out of the question you quoted. Not that I don't want to hear about your boy's film future (I do), but I what I meant to say was: "What's he eat now that he's older?" Funny how the omission of one word can completely change the meaning of a sentence. Gawd, I love language.

  33. R.G. Ryan says:

    Nothing says good times quite like "a two-headed calf suspended in a jar of formaldehyde." (Sniff) brings a tear to my one good eye.

  34. "What's he eat now that he's older?"
    Not to sound like a feckless mother, but he's twenty and living away at college. Its probably a good thing that I am not specifically sure what he's putting n his mouth these days…..

  35. Austin1234 says:

    Just be glad it wasn't The Crab Pot in Topeka Kansas, you do not want to know where they get their crabs and oysters…..

  36. Carlisa says:

    I'm laffing an ocean of tears at these comments!
    I'm in Maryland- never cared a lot for seafood (no particular reason…the taste I guess?!) Maybe the price?! It never seemed worth it unless it was on a rare occasion. IOW…if it where gasoline…i'd be fishing and crab potting!!!!

  37. RedScylla says:

    People always seems so shocked to learn that I had never eaten so much as a single bite of seafood until I moved to Japan at 24. But come on! I grew up in southwest Kansas. Fish? Where would we have gotten fish? Now, of course, I love it.

  38. Budd says:

    Growing up landlocked I am not much of a seafood person. I can handle the occasional fried catfish, and shrimp makes it into my diet from time to time, but I would not pick a seafood place to eat at. Was the burger good?

  39. Kirk says:

    "Was the burger good?"Nope. But then, I didn't really expect a place that prides itself on its steamed seafood to concern itself too much with making a decent burger. That would be like expecting a pizza joint to whip up a nice chorizo and bean burrito, you know?But I eventually forgot all about how bad lunch was.

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