While researching the BBQ crab story, we came across a website called the Blue Crab Archives. There we learned how to identify crabs, how to fish for them and tons of other stuff including the bizarre history of the seasoning mix called Alamo Zestful Seasoning which has been used to make Texas barbecued crabs for decades. The web site is the creation of a Chesapeake Bay crab-lover named Steve Zinski. We recently caught up with the Internet's main Crab Man. -- Robb Walsh
RW: How did The Blue Crab Archives get started?
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Zinski: I've always had fond memories of catching and eating blue crabs as a child. About eight years go I wanted to learn html and I chose to create a small crab-related website. The site started life as a single page with links to other blue crab sites on the Internet. The site now sports a ton of information about blue crabs, it hosts a very popular discussion forum, and even a chat room.
Where did you get the information about Alamo seasoning?
Zinski: Well, being from the Chesapeake Bay region, I'd never heard of barbecued crabs. But, having a blue crab site meant that I received a lot of e-mail asking if I had a recipe for the dish. At first I searched old newspaper archives about the dish, then I contacted Kelli Sartin and purchased some seasoning from her restaurant. Then, on a business trip to San Antonio, I picked up a bottle of Bolner's Fiesta Bar-B-Que Crab Seasoning. That lead to more research about the Sexton product (again, I searched old newspaper archives) and came up with a history and timeline of the John Sexton company. Then, I wrote to Monarch, Durkee and McCormick and, after much prodding and begging) received samples of their products.
The funny thing is that after all of this hard work and research, I've never actually had the real thing... I've never been to Houston or Beaumont, never met any of the Sartins, and never had "real" BBQ crabs served from any restaurant (I have made them myself using the seasonings that I acquired).