One time back in the day, my girlfriend and I were out spending time together. On a whim we decided to stop in at a Korean Restaurant. Neither of us had ever been to a Korean spot before. The fact that it was also outfitted with a Japanese Sushi bar should have been a hint but, nevertheless, we were feeling adventurous and happy to be there.

As each of us read our menus I recall her saying something to the effect of “Mmmmmm.. This crab dish sounds good,” along with mentioning “I like pickles”. I gave a nod, not really giving any thought to what she said. I was too immersed in the menu, reading and re-reading everything. I don’t eat pork and it seemed like every time an entree caught my eye when I checked it out again there was some form of pork hiding out in the dish. Feeling more hungry than adventurous, I finally just settled on ordering a Korean version of Shrimp-Fried Rice. She ordered one of the most expensive things on the menu, a dish that I couldn’t even begin to pronounce. After repeating the orders with a thick accent, the waitress looked at my girlfriend curious respect and said “Most ‘merican don oda dot.”

When our meals arrived, she received a platter with what looked like three huge bright red crabs garnished with some kind of deep green leafy vegetable. Along with that there were a few other salad plates, each with an unfamiliar type of vegetable. My order was just a big plate of Shrimp Fried Rice. I picked up my chopsticks and started eating. She made a wisecrack about my whimping out, hoping that I enjoyed my “boring little plate of rice”. About a minute after we started eating she managed to get my attention by mumbling something with her hands holding half of one of the crabs in her mouth.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“Huuhkuuhisruuh” she tried to whisper, never taking the crab out of her mouth.

“Huh what?”

“Huuhkuuhisruuhhhhh…” her eyes got wider as she repeated herself several times.

“What the… take the crab out of your mouth.”

“Ikann.” she replied. I understood that she meant “I can’t”.

“Why not?”

Her eyes darted between me, her platter and looking around to see if anyone else was watching. “HUUHKUUH-ISSS-RUUHHHH!”

I picked up the other half of the broken crab; it was cold and slimey to the touch. Upon closer inspection I understood what she was saying. “Oh Damn, The Crab is RAW!”

She nodded wildly, too embarrassed to spit it out in front of me. The waitress appeared out of nowhere as if she had been watching the whole time. “Iz evting okay?”

“Ma’am, what’s up with this? Why are they raw?”

She pointed at the menu beneath the entree name. “It seh Pickled Crab. Zhe oda Pickled Crab.”

I nodded, trying not to laugh. The waitress handed my girlfriend a stack of napkins so big she could have spit out a whole Whopper without it being seen.

Slightly embarrassed and annoyed, my girlfriend grumbled about the experience as I sat happily eating my boring little plate of rice. Finally I said something that seemed to put it all into perspective. “Yeah, you like crabs, and you like pickles, but sometimes Pickled Crab means PICKLED CRAB.”

And the moral of the story: Don’t make more out of something than it really is. Sometimes pickled crab really means Pickled Crab.

— Max Nomad