One would hope Washingtonians were engaged in heated debates about the future of our government, and of course they are, but at the moment it's a little hard to hear because of the billions of cicadas that have emerged in the last few weeks to find mates and reproduce and burrow for another 17 years before coming out again. They're called Brood X, and the news -- not to mention the sidewalks and trees -- are full of them.
Perhaps thanks to Fear Factor people are also eating them. Battered and fried they are supposed to taste quite nice. Connoisseurs say they're best freshly molted, when their skins are soft like softshelled crabs. I'll stick to the original, thanks. I'm ordinarily an adventurous eater, but I draw the line at large bugs. (The University of Maryland offers a quite thorough recipe booklet, in pdf format, here.)
The originals are also upon us: softshell season runs from April to October or thereabouts. Much as I love them, hardshells I'm taking to even more this year, steamed with a good crust of Old Bay and served with corn on the cob and coleslaw. I had my first dozen a couple of weeks ago at the Bethesda Crab House, which gets my vote for best Eastern-shore-style crab eatery inside the beltway. The sweet taste of Old Bay and seawater on the fingers marks the official start to summer.