Saturday, 10 August 2013

Sea Beastie Quiz

My place seems to becoming damn popular.  Another load of friends pitched up to camp for a few days.  Talking to Ria, the wife of one of them, I discovered that she had never eaten lobster.  Apparently in South Africa, they pay US$30 for one small tail.  That's outrageous!  If I pay $10 a kilo I feel hard done by.

Clearly, I had to do something about that.  Considering it was late afternoon, it was a long shot but I spoke to one of the local fishermen to see what he could pull out of the hat, or sea, at such short notice.  He came back with these:

Lousy photo, I know, but it was very dark and I forgot to take the hood off the lens
while using the flash
I have no idea what they are; primeval looking crustaceans with a lobster type tail but no claws or feelers and too few legs (lobsters have ten), and sea snails with impossibly spiky shells.

I had a quick word with the men present pointing out that there weren’t enough for everyone so it would be women and children first.

I dropped the mutant lobsters into slightly salted boiling water in the traditional way.  I fried up some chopped garlic in butter in a heavy based pan and then tipped the spiky snails in, gave them a stir and then added a couple of glasses of white wine and let them steam.

Both tasted great and my guest was very pleased.  ‘What are they?’ she kept asking, ‘I have never seen anything like these before!’

Sometimes I really can’t help myself.

‘These were once lobsters and these,’ I said indicating the snails, ‘were once whelks, you know what whelks are, don’t you?  Anyway, up river the Angolans have built an experimental nuclear waste reprocessing plant so these are now genetically modified lobsters and whelks.  They taste nice though, don’t they?’

Ria is here for a few weeks more which will give me the chance to make up for my evil sense of humour and the spectacularly explosive reaction it provoked.  Next time she visits, I’ll have a sack full of genetically unmodified lobster available and make her a sublime lobster curry.

If anyone can identify the beasties, however, I will be very grateful.

As an aside, Josh from Rico’s place came over and asked me if I had time to talk business.  Fuck, how much is this going to cost me? I thought.

‘How much do you charge to let people camp on you land?’ he asked.

‘Nothing,’ I said, ‘they’re all either friends or school kids’

‘But this is commercial,’ he pointed out, ‘you have to charge them something’

‘Josh, you tell me.  What can I charge people to stay on a building site?’

‘Look, they’re students from Portugal.  They want to spend a couple of nights at the Barra de Kwanza but they cannot afford our rates’

If they are students, I am not bloody surprised, it’s $400 a night at the Kwanza Lodge and $650 a night over at Manguieras, the golf resort.

‘How much would you charge them for food?’ Josh asked me.

‘Josh, I’m still not geared up to serve food to clients.  Look around you, you are sitting in the kitchen.  Do you see a cooker or a sink in sight?  It’s one thing letting friends stay here or school kids to stay here and self cater, entirely another to charge complete strangers.  I’m just not comfortable with charging anyone to stay here at the moment’

‘But if you did rustle up some simple food, how much would you charge?’  God, this guy was persistent.

‘Ten bucks a head,’ I said, ‘if they are Portuguese, they’ll be used to Feijoada or Moamba de Galinha.’

‘OK,’ said he leaping on that, ‘I’ll tell them they camp for free and pay ten bucks a meal’

‘Oi!  Hang on a sec, I haven’t agreed yet!’

There was something going on here.  The Kwanza Lodge has never been shy of turning the impecunious away.  Shit, turn up to the gates in anything less than a flash 4x4 and you won’t even get through them so why was Josh working so hard to get a cheap berth for seven Portuguese students?’

‘Why don’t you just let them camp on your beach?’ I asked him.

‘Rico would never allow it’

I can’t say I blame Rico.  He has a high end establishment and it wouldn’t do to have tinkers washing their undies in the river in front of his restaurant.

‘Why don’t they just camp on the public beach?’

‘C’mon, Tom.  Where would they shit?  Where would they get water?  How would they cook?  Wash? How long would it be before everything they owned was nicked?  I had to turn down their enquiry, I just thought it might be a little earner for you and allow them to stay somewhere safe’

‘You’re telling me that seven strapping Portuguese students can’t look after themselves?’

‘They’re all girls’

‘So, explain this to me again, Josh.  How much do I have to pay for them to stay with me?’


  1. Luckily I DO know what they are; Lobsters!

    1. But on the plate they do not look as appetizing as 'real' lobsters!

  2. They are 'Slipper' lobsters. Not a true lobster. Family Scyllaridae. No claws
    All are edible as you have found out.

    1. Thank you for that. I googled them and you are quite correct. They still look horrible, though!

  3. They look a bit like what we call here in Queensland, Moreton Bay Bugs ~ very delish. Nice shells ~ what do you do with them after you eat the snails?

    1. Trust the Ozzies to tell it as it is. They DO look like bugs!

  4. I can't wait to see some nice photos of "suitably supported" young ladies on your establishment. :)
    And of course hearing about Ria's revenge.

  5. I am somewhat late (after Carol in Cairns), in saying that Aussies call them bugs, (slipper lobsters), which given their visual appearance, is pretty acurate. Glad they tasted well. You ought to open a restaurant....

    1. That last remark of yours cut so deep. I'm trying to open a restaurant. Honestly, I am trying!

  6. Female Portugese students - much better than mutant ninja turtle looking things which are thrown into boiling water... Looking forward to the next post!

    1. The next post you are looking forward to, would that be the one in which I am photographed dangling by my ankles from one of the beams in my restaurante being beaten by an irate wife armed with a length of rubber hose?

  7. I thought they looked a bit like a cockroach of the sea and of course we do have our local Moreton Bay Bugs that look just like them and are very tasty so I'm glad you've cleared that up. I didn't know they were of the lobster family though. No comment about the girls, I'll leave that to Marcia!

    1. Still have not mentioned the student booking to Marcia...

  8. I'm going to stick with the thermo-nuked lobster and snail explanation...they look 'interesting'...glad they were delicious

    1. Between you and Helsie I really could have caused Ria to flip: 'What are they, Tom?' 'Irradiated cockroaches...'


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