Driving from St Andrew’s to Crail is a pleasant enough experience in summer. The road winds itself around agricultural land and farms wrapped in golden sunshine. Crail is an ancient village on the Firth of Forth and boasts a miniscule harbour (dry when we came). Apart from the scenic beauty of the Forth estuary, Crail harbour’s stone semicircular wall has a gastronomic secret that is Crail Lobster- claws firmly clamped in blue tape enjoying Death Row in a small cement bath outside a shed on the harbour, looking fairly happy as they swim about, being brought in, on the early dawn catch. The smiling proprietors will help you choose your victim(s) and then douse the poor fellows in a boiling bath. Sea gulls croon keening choruses mourning the demise of the denizens of the deep.
For starters there’s dressed Crail Crab, rosy pink as a flamingo, split open, stuffed with white and pink meat and neatly wrapped in cling film. They will even provide lemon juice, vinegar, mayonnaise and Tabasco sauce to add to your guzzling enjoyment.
Then comes the piece de resistance for the epicure gastronome; a blue tin tray, a bit dented but still bright with Blue Willow designs and reposing on it two glass dishes shaped like fish. On these are the are the two fellows you have taken to the gallows; split open right down the middle, shiny red outside on outside and pearly white on the inside, glistening in the late afternoon sun.
The added bonus is that all passersby on the harbour path look at you on the picnic bench; some frankly envious as they look at your picnic alfresco and others smile at your enjoyment. Others even stop to talk, enquire about the sweetness of the flesh and then go on to the little shack and cement bath to enquire about a takeaway lobster or a dressed crab depending on your recommendation for a late lunch.
Finally when all that is left are white and red shells and crumpled serviettes, you have come to the end of a journey. For approximately £25 you have dined as handsomely as Nigella, sloppy hands and all.
You sit on your bench, replete, and survey the stone built houses, like a child’s first drawing; a good fifty lobster pots are stacked neatly in front in preparation for the dawn catch tomorrow. A seagull perches on the chimney and the only sound is of the occasional helicopter’s lazy drone. The harbour is still dry, well muddy and slimy with four little white and green boats sitting squatly in random pools of water. From your picnic bench at the edge of the harbour car park (free) you can see three uneven terraced houses; two tall ones at each end and a short one in the middle. As you look closely, you notice that the middle house is almost picture perfect down to the cream and pink roses clambering over the blue painted door. Your gaze lifts upwards and in stunned shock you see the little dormer bay with its oval window framed with 4 pieces of glass. There, high up on the roof two large red lobsters and a white crab keep each other company as the wind blows by.
a travelogue by Gopali Ghosh