Highlights from the Texas Crab Festival — Eating America
Get Ready to Taste Some Crab
Anthony is at the Texas Crab Festival, held every Mother's Day weekend, in Crystal Beach, where 5,000 visitors are in attendance for the food and festivities. The small town, just southeast of Houston, is known for the best crabbing in the country, so there's no better place to eat crab.
A Challenge to Find the Best Dish
Eight of the 60 food vendors have entered the crab dish challenge. Entrant Bob Pyle has created crabmeat puppies, a take on hushpuppies. Anthony goes in for a taste, making sure to include a dip into what Bob calls his "jazzed-up ranch dressing" — definitely not aioli.
Crabs of All Ages
The festival isn't just about the food — there are contests and games too. Anyone, no matter how young or old, can join in the fun. Anthony lets out his competitive streak, trying his hand at an old-fashioned crab race, which he wins.
The Defending Champions
Anthony meets with Lola and Rey Trevino, a brother-and-sister team; they've won four out of the five times they've entered. As operators of La Playita restaurant, they believe their crab guacamole has what it takes. Lola's recipe doesn't use onion or tomato because, she says, "I want the crabmeat to sparkle through."
These Hot Dogs Give Crabs a Run for Their Money
The International Wiener Dog Championship attracts dachshund owners from all around. And this year the competition is so close that a photo finish is necessary to call the race. "My money's on Boomer," says Anthony. Boomer takes the wiener-dog win.
Taking It to the Next Degree
Scott "A-Bear" Hebert of Stingaree Restaurant unseated the Trevinos the one time they lost, and he's banking on his Crab, King of the Hill. He and Anthony make a component, stinger eggs: crabmeat stuffed with Jack cheese, then wrapped in bacon and deep-fried. "I've never tasted anything like it," says Anthony.
The Mother of Crabbing
Mary Nell Millinder, the matriarch of her family's crabbing business, has been competing in the festival for its entire 29 years. Her deep-fried stuffed crab and shrimp uses a special ingredient, cream of celery soup, which Anthony thinks "really adds flavor." He says, "It keeps it moist; it keeps it creamy."
Taste Testing for the Win
Local firefighters Mark Forey, Loretta Loughton and Orbin Thompson are serving as this year's judges. The tasting is done blind for complete fairness. The judges tell Anthony they're looking for "presentation, creativity and how good it's gonna eat," says Mark. "And plenty of crab," adds Loretta.
A First First-Place Win
"There are some very elaborate dishes in this competition, however, you have to have faith in your product," says Mary Nell, whose dish won first place. "I thought it looked yummy, and it tasted yummy," she says about her stuffed crabs dish winning over all the other entries in the challenge.
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