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Crab feed comes to Penngrove

By: Katherine Minkiewicz
February 2, 2018

Get out your bibs and shell crackers because the Penngrove Social Firemen is hosting their annual crab feed fundraiser event Feb. 10 at the Penngrove Community Clubhouse despite a partially closed fishing season for certain types of local crab due to high levels of domoic acid. The event will serve rich Dungeness Crab instead of the locally affected Rock Crab, which is usually a year-round open fishery.

The crab feed will serve pasta, salad and bread and Kim Hanson, one of the directors for the Penngrove Social Firemen, says the crab will most likely come from a local source further up the coast of California where the shellfish are more plentiful and clean.

“They boil them all and then they get them cracked and they are already cooked and they just break them down and put them in bowls along with their salad, pasta and bread. I don’t know where they come from, but I know it’s not a good crab year, it may come from a local source but I don’t think it was caught here,” Hanson said of the Dungeness Crab. 

The year has been a poor crab season mainly due to the partial closure of one type of local crab, Rock Crab – including its red and yellow varieties, which are typically readily available throughout the year state-wide. The Rock Crab season was closed north of Pigeon Point in San Mateo in 2016 and re-opened later that year in November, however, the California Department of Public Health is still asking consumers to be wary of the threat of domoic acid, a naturally occurring toxin that stems from the bloom of a particular algae that can accumulate in fish and shellfish, according to the CDPH.

This single celled plant, Pseudo-nitzschia, can grow anywhere on the coast and is hard to predict when it will spike in growth. While the toxins emitted from it do not harm the fish or shellfish, it can negatively affect humans, causing vomiting, headaches or diarrhea. And even though the season for Rock Crab is partially opened once again, officials from the CDPH are advising people not to eat the viscera part of the crab, otherwise known as the “butter,” or the internal organs. This is generally good practice with any kind of shellfish.

“Currently there are advisories related to Rock Crab. On Jan. 16 the CDPH lifted the health advisory for Rock Crab caught in state waters south of Salt Point in Sonoma County and the health advisory remains in effect for Rock Crab north of Salt Point to the Oregon border,” the CDPH Biotoxin Information Line states.

However, it is important to note that the Dungeness Crab is perfectly fine to eat and is having a much more successful season. 

“There are no health advisories for Dungeness Crab in California,” the informational line said.

So expect plenty of rich and buttery Dungeness Crab at the feed event, which Hanson says has been a success in the past five years for raising funds for the community park and clubhouse. Last year’s event was able to raise $4,583 for community improvements.

“It has been successful for them because everything they raise is helpful to the expenses they (the Penngrove Social Firemen) have for their maintenance of the clubhouse and the park,” Hanson said.

She also commented on how the Penngrove Social Firemen Club is such an integral part of the community in terms of helping to support the area’s family friendly amenities, such as the park.

“Without that organization I’m not sure how those two entities would exist. They put a lot of time and energy into maintenance and putting on these events to cover the expenses… So it’s the fundraiser and volunteers that help and we are always looking for volunteers,” she said.

When asked what people can look forward to the most, Hanson said, “Having a good time, being around people that they haven’t see for a while and gorging on the delicious crab.” 

The crab feed will take place Saturday, Feb. 10 at 5:45 p.m., with dinner starting at 7 p.m. at the Penngrove Community Clubhouse on 385, Woodward St. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased at JavAmore Café at 10101, Main St. in Penngrove.