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Great Wall Supermarket, Merrifield and Rockville


zoramargolis
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I finally made it to the new Great Wall Supermarket on Gallows Road in Merrifield, about a quarter mile from Han ah Reum. They aren't yet completely up and running--according to big signs on the walls, they are planning to have sushi, a liquor department and prepared Chinese food, but these departments are not happening yet.

The store is brand new, and is quite a bit cleaner than the funky HAR, In general I would say that probably due to fewer customers and consequently less turnover, the produce wasn't quite as fresh-looking as HAR's--especially the greens. They had several unusual fruits I'd never seen for sale fresh before: mangosteen, rambutan, jujubee, and a couple I can't remember the names of that I'd never heard of before. There were at least a dozen different varieties of pears. I was looking for quinces, but they didn't have any. I did get some nice Muscat grapes and very inexpensive prune plums.

There were many different live and lively fish in their tanks--over at HAR, there were several dead Tilapia in the tank. At Great Wall, the clams are kept in water, and looked quite appetizing. They had a nice variety of fish filets and steaks, as well as whole fish-- though not the many different varieties that HAR has. They had lots of fresh, whole ducks in the meat case. Of course, the ducks with heads were labeled "ducks without heads" and the ducks without heads were labeled "with". The "packed on" date was October 30, (today is October 17), so no one with much of a command of English is keeping an eye on things. They had something I've never seen before: ground pork fat, sold like hamburger, by the pound. Presumably for making sausage. But I bought 2 1/2 pounds and rendered it in a baking pan in the oven, and made some lard, and ended up with a separate tub of crumbly cracklings.

The packaged and canned goods seem similar to HAR--but everything looks very fresh and new. Prices are similar. Lots of room in the parking lot.

Edited by zoramargolis
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Waitman and Mrs. B. kindly offered to take me along on their first sojourn to the Great Wall Supermarket in Merrifield this morning. I had heard that they carried live Dungeness crabs and wanted some.

What an absolute HOOT that place is. For starters, their prices on fresh produce are ridiculously cheap compared to the Safeway. Cauliflower, for instance, was $0.99 a head. The seedless muscat grapes were $1.29 lb., instead of Mr. Safeway's $2.99. (I was very happy to see these because I want to make the braised pork with grapes that's on epicurious.com.) Those tubular net bags of whole garlic that the Metro Market charges $1.39 for one? Three bags for $1 at GW.

But the REAL reason the three of us wanted to go there was because of what we had heard about the seafood department. My imagination is too feeble to have conjured this up. Plus, I've never been to Asia and thus haven't seen the local markets. They had several kinds of live crab. None of it was labeled "Dungeness," but what was called "Canadian Crab" looked like the right thing. So, at $6.99 lb. I bought two large ones. I believe Waitman was looking for sea urchins, but I don't know if he found any.

Waitman was poking around the tanks and found one with live frogs in it. I don't think they were selling them as pets, but who knows? Ditto, the live turtles. There were many, many kinds of whole fish, including lots of live ones in the tanks beneath the counter. The labeling was inadequate for most of these, but they were selling some sort of sole for $1.99 lb.

This is the kind of place that has every canned sauce and condiment for Asian cooking known to man. I had a terrible time just picking out some soy sauce. Too many choices.

I finally bailed and checked out my stuff. As Craig would have said, if he'd come with us, "I can't afford to save this much money."

I wish we had a place like this in the city; but I think our Chinese population left Chinatown for Northern Virginia quite a while ago. :lol:

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Waitman and Mrs. B. kindly offered to take me along on their first sojourn to the Great Wall Supermarket in Merrifield this morning.  I had heard that they carried live Dungeness crabs and wanted some.

But the REAL reason the three of us wanted to go there was because of what we had heard about the seafood department.  My imagination is too feeble to have conjured this up.  Plus, I've never been to Asia and thus haven't seen the local markets.  They had several kinds of live crab.  None of it was labeled "Dungeness," but what was called "Canadian Crab" looked like the right thing.  So, at $6.99 lb. I bought two large ones.  I believe Waitman was looking for sea urchins, but I don't know if he found any.

So please tell, Barbara, how were the crabs?

I work right around the corner from that place, and I've been intending to stop in. You're inspiring me to try to take a longer lunch tomorrow and launch a reconnaissance mission. The crabs sound like just the thing for my after-work birthday dinner on Tuesday!

Did you notice if they have prepared foods? I read that they were planning to but hadn't opened that section yet, a couple of weeks ago. Sounds like that could be a good source for a quick lunch to take back to work--better than the alternatives in that shopping center!

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So please tell, Barbara, how were the crabs?

Did you notice if they have prepared foods?

The crabs were great! I steamed them earlier in the day, cleaned them (not a lovely task) and then put them back in the steamer to finish cooking and to heat up just before dinner. A very messy, real hands-on kind of meal. I told Craig that if we didn't eat all of it I would pick out the meat and do something else with it on another day. That issue became moot when we picked those bad boys clean.

I did not notice any prepared foods, other than stuff in the freezer case, but I wasn't looking for that, either. As of now, I wouldn't think it would be a lunch alternative. Sorry.

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I ventured into The Great Wall after work tonight. What a fun place!

I got a 7-oz package of enoki mushrooms for $0.99, and a healthy sized bunch of green onions for $0.33. Lemons were $0.20 each. Tiny "Shanghai" bok choy were $0.99 per lb. I remember what I purchased, but the selection, quality, and pricing of their produce was very impressive.

Frozen quail were on sale, and since Mr. B doesn't care for them, I got them as a special occasion dinner for my Boston terriers (why can't they eat well, too?). This place will be a great source of small whole fresh fish for them, too (I feed a more "natural" diet to my dogs). I also got a pint of mango ice cream.

OK, seeing the eels slither in their tanks, out of the corner of my eye, set off my flight alarm slightly but I hit the reset button and moved on. I think they must have half a dozen (or more) varieties of live clams. They have live blue crabs (females) for $1.99/lb. I asked for 2 "Canadian" crabs, and was pleased with how lively and large they were. I wasn't too sure about the live scallops, but I'll check back on those. Lots of fish!

I must say that the drive home in the dark down Prosperity Avenue, with the crabs in the back seat rattling around in their plastic bag, was a little unnerving. I reminded myself that the fish guy wouldn't get a lot of repeat business if the crabs escaped their bags in the customers' cars on the way home. :lol:

I glanced at everything else quickly, but it was a bit overwhelming to take it all in. I saw 2-3 different kinds of whole chickens (and I do mean whole), and whole ducks. There were packages of all different kinds of parts, although I didn't spot any sweetbreads. They had duck feet.

Although the store itself was not crowded at 6:30 on a Tuesday night, the parking lot was packed because of all the folks going to the Golds Gym next door.

I noticed that what was a Pho restaurant a few doors down in the shopping center has a sign that says a Thai restaurant is opening soon. I hope it's good, and I hope they deliver!

Edited by Anti M
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I ventured into The Great Wall after work tonight.  What a fun place!

I got a 7-oz package of enoki mushrooms for $0.99, and a healthy sized bunch of green onions for $0.33.  Lemons were $0.20 each. Tiny "Shanghai" bok choy were $0.99 per lb. I remember what I purchased, but the selection, quality, and pricing of their produce was very impressive.

Frozen quail were on sale, and since Mr. B doesn't care for them, I got them as a special occasion dinner for my Boston terriers (why can't they eat well, too?).  This place will be a great source of small whole fresh fish for them, too (I feed a more "natural" diet to my dogs).  I also got a pint of mango ice cream.

OK, seeing the eels slither in their tanks, out of the corner of my eye, set off my flight alarm slightly but I hit the reset button and moved on.  I think they must have half a dozen (or more) varieties of live clams.  They have live blue crabs (females) for $1.99/lb. I asked for 2 "Canadian" crabs, and was pleased with how lively and large they were.  I wasn't too sure about the live scallops, but I'll check back on those.  Lots of fish!

I must say that the drive home in the dark down Prosperity Avenue, with the crabs in the back seat rattling around in their plastic bag, was a little unnerving.  I reminded myself that the fish guy wouldn't get a lot of repeat business if the crabs escaped their bags in the customers' cars on the way home.  :lol:

I glanced at everything else quickly, but it was a bit overwhelming to take it all in.  I saw 2-3 different kinds of whole chickens (and I do mean whole), and whole ducks.  There were packages of all different kinds of parts, although I didn't spot any sweetbreads.  They had duck feet.

Although the store itself was not crowded at 6:30 on a Tuesday night, the parking lot was packed because of all the folks going to the Golds Gym next door.

I noticed that what was a Pho restaurant a few doors down in the shopping center has a sign that says a Thai restaurant is opening soon.  I hope it's good, and I hope they deliver!

Ah, yes. I was a bit too overwhelmed to notice everything. I thought the produce and, particularly, the mushrooms were at a price point too good to be true. And, I wondered who would buy a chicken that was looking at you. It was the "sea cucumber" and the very large sea snails that gave me the heebie-jeebies. I'll admit to being too much of a wuss.

However, I will be very glad to accompany the "Waitmans" on another excursion. Besides being such wonderful company, they introduced me to Vietnamese sandwiches. :P

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Went to the GW to get dinner for new years eve. I was waiting in line for the roast pork, duck and pig. BTW it is pretty good. I found out talking with the lady behind the counter that just about everyday they get a new pig and she indicated that the head is one of the desired parts of the roast pig. It has a lot more crispy skin, she explained. She sells the head for $5 but it is usually gone by noon. Well had to give it a try so I picked one up yesterday. The skin is fantastic but I may have bit off more than I can chew. It is about 7 to 8 pounds and large. Other than me, no one wants to touch it in my house. Oh well.

If you are looking for a different part of the pig, go give it a try but you're going to need some folks to help you eat it.

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The first time I went to Great Wall was right after it opened, and I was not all that impressed with the selection. While in the area on Saturday I decided to stop in and give it another look. While it is absolute bedlam inside, the selection and prices were well worth the fight (note to self: sharpen elbows before returning). I thought that the seafood selection was considerably better than SuperH, with 6 or 7 different types of clams, at least two types of eel, and a plethora of various fish, and as a bonus they had Dungeness crabs (2 monsters set me back $35, but well worth the price). I also found some hard to find items like agar agar.

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I picked up 14 monster Dungeness crabs for a crab feed last week. They were huge, heavy, feisty and, at 7.99/lb. set me back more than 200 bucks but I'd do it again in a heart beat. One word of advice, don't be afraid to ask the guy to fish around and look for crabs that have all their claws. Understandably, some legs get snapped off in transit, but the claws are my favorite meat on a Dungeness. That said, the few that I picked up missing a leg were just as tasty as the others. He packed them in open plastic bags, set a closed bag of ice on them to keep them calm, and put the whole lot of them in a plastic lined cardboard box. I can't wait to go back for some more!

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I was in Rockville yesterday and saw workers putting up a sign at the new store. It is on 355, north of Washington Street, across from Pho 75. I asked the workers when the store will open and they said about a month. The parkinig lot is pretty big with plenty of parking--about 2x the size of Kam Sam market's lots combined.

I am looking forward to a new option in Rockville after hearing good things about their Merrifield location.

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Rockville location is now open. I stopped by this afternoon and the parking lot was a mad house. I gave up and went back after dinner. Good selection of canned goods, dried mushroom/seaweeds, snacks and noodles. The meat and seafood counters are big. The produce area was a little weird to me--the vegetable bins were more like prep tables with dividers. Bonus points for wide aisles and open layout. Asian markets are notoriously hard to navigate, especially on weekends.

There is a steam table line serving "3 dishes and a soup" for $5.99. There is limited seating, maybe 10 tables.

Overall, I'd say this is a good addition to the Rockville area. It will definitely give Maxim's and Kam Sam serious competition.

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Looks like VA Great Wall is in trouble for their Pet Store very fresh seafood counter. Here's the link on the annoying Washington Post website. It made the front page. I'm not sure Great Wall was really doing anything wrong, but some people don't like seeing live animals and apparently certain species are not classified for food under Virginia law, but are regarded as wildlife (the owner claims all his animals are farmed).

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I once wrote a rather notorius piece for Chowhound (1999? 2000?) entitle "Horror in Vancouver: Live Seafood at Sun Sui Weh" which was the story of my wife and I having our first encounter with a live Alaskan King crab which was presented to us trying to crawl off of an oversized cork topped tray just before giving its life as our dinner. The crab's leg actually reached out and touched me just before he was carted off to the kitchen.

We were horrified.

I no longer have any record of it and Chowhound deleted it long ago along with the 100+ responses to it. I should note that i have a different appreciation for "live" food today as a result of the experience even looking the other way when I walk past the lobster tank at Wegman's.

I'd actually suggest that in 13 or 14 years of posting on boards that essay (and it was) provoked more intense reaction than any other I've written.

After the presentation we tried to cancel the order claiming I was a doctor and my cell phone had gone off with an emergency that I would have to leave immediately for. Unfortunately, for us and the crab, we couldn't find any waitstaff in time that spoke English in the Asian restaurant to stop the crab from being cooked. He was presented to us-cooked-on the platter just as we were asking for the check.

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Looks like VA Great Wall is in trouble for their Pet Store very fresh seafood counter. Here's the link on the annoying Washington Post website. It made the front page. I'm not sure Great Wall was really doing anything wrong, but some people don't like seeing live animals and apparently certain species are not classified for food under Virginia law, but are regarded as wildlife (the owner claims all his animals are farmed).

Maybe I read it incorrectly, but I thought the issue was that they hadn't gotten the permits they needed, as well as selling some critters that aren't classified as food animals. Eels? Really? Many cultures, including European ones, prize eel. Just not 'merican enough for Virginia, I guess. Rats and guinea pigs were on the list, however--I presume to feed pet snakes--maybe they should sell those in the interim. Cui (guinea pig) is a very popular food in the Andes, in Ecuador and Peru...
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Something odd, or at least incomplete, about that story. Clearly fish of many types that are found in the wild are sold throughout Virginia with no problems. Eels are fish. Turtles and frogs, well there you may have a different situation. But why a non-endangered specimen, such as an eel, or a sea bass, should be illegal (under any wildlife law) because it is killed and dressed in the retail location rather than at some remote place escapes me. Unless it is only a permit issue, as Zora suggests, but this surely doesn't rise to talk about felonies.

If indeed the specific species they are talking about actually are on endangered species lists, well, OK. It's hard to see why that should apply to farm-raised specimens, though.

Little known fact -- the US is a major exporter of eels.

All that said, I don't think the argument that "this is traditional where we come from" should hold much weight. When one is in a different place, one conforms to the local laws -- that fact the law and common practice are different someplace else is irrelevant. Imagine a resident of Montana being stopped for speeding in, say, Virginia, offering Montana's higher limit as a reason why it's OK for him to exceed the local speed limit. This is all the more so for immigrants. They have presumably moved to a new place to enjoy its greater benefits, whatever those may be. But the move is a package deal. They don't get to pick and choose what they conform to in the new place because some things in the place they left were more to their liking.

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It's kind of sketchy as to how the complaints came in. And why didn't they just go to the management, explain the issue, and help them get permits or become compliant? Why tens of thousands of dollars in an undercover sting operation?

The whole thing sounds, pun unintended, fishy...

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And why didn't they just go to the management, explain the issue, and help them get permits or become compliant? Why tens of thousands of dollars in an undercover sting operation?

Can't speak to this specific situation but, in some other cases like this, the answer to your question is:

Because the snitch lacked a backbone or didn't take a second to noodle on the implications of what they were doing. Kind of like dropping a snakehead or two into the Potomac several years ago.

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I'm not saying the snitch should have gone to management, I'm saying the government should have!

To use your metaphor, it's kind of like an officer seeing someone dropping a couple of snakehead into the Potomac. And rather than telling them, hey, don't do that, he goes back, gets surveillance equipment, and spends weeks watching hundreds of fish getting dumped so he can make a really big bust.

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I once wrote a rather notorius piece for Chowhound (1999? 2000?) entitle "Horror in Vancouver: Live Seafood at Sun Sui Weh" which was the story of my wife and I having our first encounter with a live Dungeness crab which was presented to us trying to crawl off of an oversized cork topped tray just before giving its life as our dinner. The crab's leg actually reached out and touched me just before he was carted off to the kitchen.

We were horrified.

I no longer have any record of it and Chowhound deleted it long ago along with the 100+ responses to it. I should note that i have a different appreciation for "live" food today as a result of the experience even looking the other way when I walk past the lobster tank at Wegman's.

I'd actually suggest that in 13 or 14 years of posting on boards that essay (and it was) provoked more intense reaction than any other I've written.

After the presentation we tried to cancel the order claiming I was a doctor and my cell phone had gone off with an emergency that I would have to leave immediately for. Unfortunately, for us and the crab, we couldn't find any waitstaff in time that spoke English in the Asian restaurant to stop the crab from being cooked. He was presented to us-cooked-on the platter just as we were asking for the check.

Am I to understand from your post that you never cook lobsters or crabs at home? Fascinating.

From my point of view, if you are going to eat an animal, you should be willing to kill it -- it you don't kill it, it will be killed for you -- unless you intend to eat it live. Which does not seem any more humane.

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Am I to understand from your post that you never cook lobsters or crabs at home? Fascinating.

From my point of view, if you are going to eat an animal, you should be willing to kill it -- it you don't kill it, it will be killed for you -- unless you intend to eat it live. Which does not seem any more humane.

Yes, well, reading Joe H's post here, I can certainly see why it generated so many comments on Chowhound. 'Nuff said.

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Am I to understand from your post that you never cook lobsters or crabs at home? Fascinating.

From my point of view, if you are going to eat an animal, you should be willing to kill it -- it you don't kill it, it will be killed for you -- unless you intend to eat it live. Which does not seem any more humane.

Cooking lobsters or crabs doesn't meant killing them. I don't know what you eat but I would bet most Americans don't have the stomach to sledgehammer a cow in order to have a burger. Maybe your point is that most Americans are a bunch of hypocritical pussies, which conclusion I could hardly disagree.

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It was an interesting essay that evoked responses similar to the several on here. Part of my perspective was the presentation at eye level (i.e.my sitting on a chair several feet away from a volley ball sized body with an "arm span" of three to four feet reaching out and literally touching me as I sat asked to "approve it." It wasn't just the enormous size but the physical act of the King crab-the being-which evoked an emotional response that I hadn't expected.

Respondents to it included several chefs along with the Post's Eve Zibarte as well as several who related their own experiences which, yes, included the scratching sound of crab claws raking against the side of a pot as they are steamed to death. I should note that much of this is cultural since Vancouver then-and now-has an enormous Asian community. Large "live" seafood halls existed there long before anywhere else in North America tracing Hong Kong and China as their founding. Families would come and sit at the many large round tables sharing the communal, almost celebatorial like tradition of feasting on live shrimp, live scallops, lobster King Crab and others. (NOTE: above I said a Dungeness crab-it was not. It was an Alaskan King crab.)

Sun Sui Weh was the foremost of these holding over 300 people almost all sitting exclusively at enormous round tables holding 8 to 12 people at each. Very little English was spoken in the room. All of the food, as tradition dictated, was presented alive before it was prepared. The King crab was literally the signature ruler of the room, weighing in at perhaps ten pounds or more and costing over $100 each. The physical appearance of them being carted and carried alive around the hall was impressive with tables stopping their animated conversations appreciative of the creature's arrival at the table for their approval.

I wrote my essay with a bit of humor and the thought occurs to me, as I type this, that one day I will do it again. The responses to it though were remarkable: most of us it seemed do not think of many animals and creatures as "food." Culturally what could be a "pet" for one could be dinner for another. For that matter there was once a Twilight Zone episode where humans were raised in an environment very similar to Earth only to be plucked from it for preparation as literal dinner for a superior race.

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For that matter there was once a Twilight Zone episode where humans were raised in an environment very similar to Earth only to be plucked from it for preparation as literal dinner for a superior race.

Close but no Kanamits. Earth is invaded by aliens who turn Earth into a peaceful paradise.

To Serve Man: Season 3 Episode 89: The story is based on the short story "To Serve Man", written by Damon Knight.

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Close but no Kanamits. Earth is invaded by aliens who turn Earth into a peaceful paradise.

To Serve Man: Season 3 Episode 89: The story is based on the short story "To Serve Man", written by Damon Knight.

I understand they are very good when braised... but sometimes there is a lot of fat to be trimmed: "only where it sat" and the head are often the plaes most needing trimming. I am sure I will provide many pounds of duck flavored bacon when my turn comes around!

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A friend went to the CIA and he did an experiment on cooking lobsters: Insert the live lobster tail first, head first or kill the lobster first and then boil. The result: no difference in tenderness from head first or killing first, the tail first was much tougher. I think this speaks against the lobster feels no pain school of thought as toughness in a meat is a stress related symptom.

But in any case, all the animal product you eat is killed. Is wringing the neck of a duck in the foie gras process any less humane than taking a chicken out of a tight cage and putting it on an automated kill line where the birds are often alive and bleeding to death when they hit the boilers for the feather removal process?

I am glad to know in Virginia, I am safe from the eating of eels but they have no money to fix their traffic issues.

You also can't legally sell snakehead in Virginia because they don't recognize it as an invasive species.

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John, you remember?!? Wow, thank you. The drum circle I wrote about in Bongos on the Beach is still there. In fact the largest drum circle in the Eastern U. S. is in Asheville. Actually, Carol and I were married in Southern CA with our wedding meal off the hood of a rental car at Tommy's Chiliburgers. If we'd passed an In-n-Out we would have stopped there first.

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A friend went to the CIA and he did an experiment on cooking lobsters: Insert the live lobster tail first, head first or kill the lobster first and then boil. The result: no difference in tenderness from head first or killing first, the tail first was much tougher. I think this speaks against the lobster feels no pain school of thought as toughness in a meat is a stress related symptom.

Which is why I always follow Martha Stewart's dicturm: Just before you drop a lobster (head first) into a pot of boiling water, throw in a couple of shots of vodka. As she said, "If YOU were going to be boiled alive, you'd want a drink, too!"

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Growing up in L.A. with parents from Alberta and Manitoba, I never ate lobster until I moved to the right coast. The few times we've cooked lobsters at home, we've followed the practice of J's East Coast family. A very sharp thin knife blade is quickly inserted just behind the lobster's head and then it is dropped into the pot of boiling water. Quick death versus slower one in boiling water.

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Which is why I always follow Martha Stewart's dicturm: Just before you drop a lobster (head first) into a pot of boiling water, throw in a couple of shots of vodka. As she said, "If YOU were going to be boiled alive, you'd want a drink, too!"

I'd use gin.... And toss the shots down my gullet! After stirring on ice in a metal can to counteract the heat from the steaming pot. Just to be on the safe side ya know!

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Cooking lobsters or crabs doesn't meant killing them.

Well, yeah, it does, if you start with live ones, which you should, otherwise you are taking a huge risk for food poisoning.

People seem to care more about the feelings of lobsters than crabs or crawfish, maybe because they are big and it's not that hard to put them in the freezer until they are sleepy and then stab them in the brain before you toss them in the water. Crabs and crawfish, I never heard of anybody killing them humanely before boiling them.

Oysters and mussels, nobody seems to worry about their feelings either, but oysters are alive when you shuck them, and mussels are alive when you steam them.

I can't think of anything else that gets killed in the home kitchen these days, but shellfish. But there are live fish markets, live poultry markets, even live rabbit markets, all over the country. Pick your animal and they'll kill it and dress it out. I've done this for our Thanksgiving turkey more than once.

It is also my understanding that you can pick your live ruminant (lamb, goat) at some halal markets, especially for Eid.

So not sure why Great Wall is under fire here.

I remember when there was a live turtle market in the French Market in New Orleans back in the day before it was a tourist trap. Shoppers would go in and pick their turtle and it would be killed and dressed while they waited. I never went in there, just remember that the plate glass window in that shop was always covered with bright red blood. When you kill certain animals, there will be blood. Such is life when you are a carnivore.

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fFor all those who want to read about live King Crab in Vancouver restaurants, here it is:

434196_2.jpg?20120322211625

From Chowhound in 2010 (my post was ten years earlier):

Tonight, 4 of us had an 8 lb king crab at Sun Sui Wah on main. prepared three ways. Oh so sweet!! Thanks to all. The show of the crabs being brought to the tables was fabulous. The place was packed" http://chowhound.cho...m/topics/690880 Is the link to this thread. FWIW, in season in Vancouver live Alaska King Crab is $11 to 14 a pound with the avarage King crab weighing, walking in at about $100-125. These are also available now in San Francisco, Portland and Seattle; I do not know if anywhere east of the Pacific Coast offers live king Crab. Sun Sui Wah in Vancouver was the first dating back to the '80's. I learned of it when Phyllis Richman wrote about it perhaps 20 years ago. I've represented a Vancouver company in North America and Europe for over 20 years and it seemed natural that I should try it.

http://www.vanmag.co...g_Crab_Showdown is from Vancouver Magazine.

http://www.sunsuiwah.com/en_home.html is Sun Sui Wah's website featuring their "world famous roasted squab." Head on. I should note here that tradition dictates that the proper temperature King crab is served at is barely cooked. Also, the photo above shows a smaller one.

sidebar_squab.jpg

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Joe, not saying you are wrong to feel the way you do. Feelings are personal, there's no arguing with feelings.

Just saying to someone who has a good sense of taste that, if you are going to eat a crab, it tastes best freshly killed. Which you already knew.

I am from South Louisiana, Cajun country. Some of my fondest memories are going out in the Gulf of Mexico on my father's boat, catching fish, throwing them in the ice chest, and bringing them back to the camp, prepping them, cooking them, and eating them within hours of catching them. Catching crabs and catfish on my grandmother's pier, bringing them back to the house, cooking them and eating them within minutes of catching them. Catching crawfish in the swamp, bringing them back to the house, and having a big old crawfish boil. If the critter is dead already, you throw it away, it's no good. That's just what you do.

Fresh meat tastes better than frozen meat. If you are going to eat the meat anyway, why not honor the animal, treat it with respect, kill it as humanely as possible, and eat it fresh?

That said, I am not sure that keeping a crab half alive in a restaurant is humane. Depends on how it is done. Places like Cantlers, in Annapolis, they keep the live crabs in crates in the river, and I am fine with that. If it was in a tank and they killed it right away after they took it out, that seems OK to me. There is a steak house in DC where they put the poor lobsters on a platter in the restaurant, not in a tank, for show, and that seems cruel. I don't think they can breath out of water. But I may be wrong.

At Great Wall, they do keep the fish and lobsters in tanks. The poor blue crabs are in baskets, half alive. Nobody seems to care about the feelings of blue crabs.

I'll drive all the way from Fairfax to Annapolis for blue crabs at Cantlers but not to Merrifield.

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I should have been able to find my original essay but I couldn't. The focus of it was the enormous crab, alive, reaching out and literally touching me during the "presentation." There was something about that action and then it showing up cooked, on a platter minutes later, that was different. Without the touch it could have been Cantler's or Wegman's or anywhere but the touch told me that I was eating life perhaps emotive life. Simply, it made me think.

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I don't think anyone's mentioned the fact that places like Great Wall are the reason we now have invasive Northern Snakeheads in the US. Their flavor and appropriateness on menus aside, they should not be here. I agree with the comment above re: when immigrating to a new country one should accept the dietary customs of that country, not expect things to change for you.

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...I agree with the comment above re: when immigrating to a new country one should accept the dietary customs of that country, not expect things to change for you.

Then we in the mid-Atlantic states should be eating wildrye, hickory nuts, sunflower seeds, goosefoot, the odd canarygrass and marsh elder, etc. I'm grateful to immigrants for bringing so many interesting foods with them, and that is one of the reasons why I love living here: access to an incredible array of interesting foods.

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I should have been able to find my original essay but I couldn't. The focus of it was the enormous crab, alive, reaching out and literally touching me during the "presentation." There was something about that action and then it showing up cooked, on a platter minutes later, that was different. Without the touch it could have been Cantler's or Wegman's or anywhere but the touch told me that I was eating life perhaps emotive life. Simply, it made me think.

Not much different than catching a fish, gutting it, and then frying it up in a pan.

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mdt, it is, though. Please forgive me for saying this again: the physical action of a live creature literally reaching and TOUCHING ME before he/she/it is sacrificed for me to eat IT triggered an emotion in me that I had not expected.

It was different than catching a fish. It was different from sitting in a restaurant outside of a Stockyard in Oklahoma City eating a steak, different from Cantler's and picking apart a crab, different from sucking the head of a crawfish in Breaux Bridge or eating a freshly shucked oyster at Acme or Felix's in NOLA. Or my making bouillibasse an hour after having two three pound Rockfish filleted and gutted at the fish house on Maine Avenue.

FOOD doesn't reach out and touch me on the shoulder. While it's alive. This did. When that happened I realized it was no longer FOOD. And it was still alive.

Tomorrow night I am going to take a couple of strip steaks and fry them in a blackened cast iron skillet with a half dozen minced garlic cloves, fresh rosemary and a quarter cup of olive oil. We'll have sliced tomatoes, baked potato and a few mushrooms fried in the same oil. A couple of glasses of red wine, too. A seriously good Friday night dinner at home.

At no time will I think about what the steak once was. And, if I did, I wouldn't focus on it. If I did focus I might think about the farm near Culpeper that it was raised at, the grass it ate, perhaps even some lineage. But all the while not thinking of it as a living creature. Rather as food.

My experience with the live Alaskan King Crab was an experience with food. Food that was alive. Food that seemed to be emotive. That touched me. A different perspective from what I grew up with. Yes, I still eat steak and lobster and crab. Even King crab. I think of all of this today the same way that I always did. But, for one night, perhaps only that night-I met my dinner.

And I blinked.

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Then we in the mid-Atlantic states should be eating wildrye, hickory nuts, sunflower seeds, goosefoot, the odd canarygrass and marsh elder, etc. I'm grateful to immigrants for bringing so many interesting foods with them, and that is one of the reasons why I love living here: access to an incredible array of interesting foods.

Let me clear something up. It was I who originally made the immigrant remark, but it wasn't in reference to types of foods that have have brought from elsewhere and are now cultivated here. It was in reference to, specifically, how things are done, and what isn't accepted, and perhaps isn't even legal, in our culture which is the immigrants' new culture, and the idea that they can't expect to be excused from conforming to these norms just because it didn't happen to be traditional where they came from. In this case that specifically referred to how animals are treated, which species can be consumed rather than be protected, and similar matters.

It is certainly true that without introduced foods, both animal and vegetable, we would have little to eat. North America has given almost nothing to the world in the way of commonly consumed foods -- IIRC our contributions are blueberries, walnuts, those you mentioned, and a few other trivial items like that. But that is true of most places in the world, where most of the foods came from somewhere else (though obviously many of those places made bigger contributions to the world's larder than we in North America did).

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I should have been able to find my original essay but I couldn't. The focus of it was the enormous crab, alive, reaching out and literally touching me during the "presentation." There was something about that action and then it showing up cooked, on a platter minutes later, that was different. Without the touch it could have been Cantler's or Wegman's or anywhere but the touch told me that I was eating life perhaps emotive life. Simply, it made me think.

FYI, I tried as well, and I did find a link to it from another forum somewhere, but when I clicked on the link the Chowhound page that came up said it was no longer available. So apparently it is gone.

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(

Please forgive me for saying this again: the physical action of a live creature literally reaching and TOUCHING ME before he/she/it is sacrificed for me to eat IT triggered an emotion in me that I had not expected. . . .

FOOD doesn't reach out and touch me on the shoulder. While it's alive. This did. When that happened I realized it was no longer FOOD. And it was still alive . .

But, for one night, perhaps only that night-I met my dinner.

(Truncations, mine) OK, I get it now: You mistook an instinctive action by a crab to be far more cognizant than it was and were freaked out by it. It is what what it is. Now you've got me thinking about Lobster Risotto as a first course for Easter dinner. Somebody try and talk me out of this, please. Tbe main is going to be Rack of Lamb.

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