BY PETER KRANZ
LIVING IN MORESBY YOU get used to being regularly assailed by a variety of door-to-door salespeople offering a huge range of products from Trobriand carvings to mud crabs and live chooks. I was even once offered my own stolen laptop.
My favourite was an old man who I called the Fisher King. He brought a variety of lovely seafood to my door, always fresh (he enterprisingly kept it in an ice bucket). Tilapia, Red Emperor, Coral Trout, Barramundi, Mud Crabs – he’d supply them all with a friendly smile and at a reasonable price. On one occasion even duck and cormorant.
One weekend I was preparing for a staff function and bought half a dozen gigantic mud crabs from him - the a couple of kilos.
As the feast wasn't until the next day, I put them in the laundry sink overnight (feeling a bit sorry for them) and covered them with water.
Unfortunately their claws were tied with leaves which swelled and loosened in the water, so the next morning, when I entered the laundry to start preparations, I was accosted by six very angry giant crabs roaming around looking for vengeance.
They got out through the door and started chasing me around the house, claws a-snapping. It was funny, yes, but don't underestimate the strength of a mud-crab's claws. They can snap fingers in half.
Luckily I found a broom and managed to herd them back into the laundry, then hurriedly shut the door and considered my options.
I knew a neighbour had a gun, but this seemed a bit extreme for a few crabs. I decided on a strategy of distraction and surprise, so, armed with a broom and a white rag on a stick, I cautiously opened the door.
I distracted the muddies with the rag, then cornered them with the broom and threw them one-by-one into a pot with a heavy lid - which I quickly transferred to the stove where they met their doom.
Subsequently a lovely crab meal was enjoyed by all! Lesson - treat PNG mud crabs with respect (and pick them up by the back end).