SEA URCHINS: The Killing and Cleaning Factory
Here's our catch of the day. 32 sea urchins looking pretty and decorative, some with their tan seaweed hats on. That silver tool that looks like a Chinese character though is the instrument of their demise. It's a sea-urchin guillotine.
See how it works? Like a regular guillotine (a humane innovation in the world of public executions, actually) this is very quick and I hope rather painless. When you see these guys "walking" around, almost looking as if they're planning an escape, you start to feel sorry for them. They actually seem cute.
Once they're opened, though, there's no brain visible. You see lots of sea water, a membrane with grey, sandy grit and 5 orange egg sacs lining the sides. That's it. Seeing this allays my guilt and discomfort about killing my own food. Not that it's very scientific to not see a brain and conclude that there isn't one. Nor does it make sense to feel guilty only when you see the death of your meal directly. Grocery shopping removes us from the scene of the crime as it were, not from the responsibility. I wonder how long it would take me to become a vegetarian if I had to kill my own food instead of paying somebody else to do it. Or maybe I'd just get over the guilt and get on with it.
Cleaning the sea water and grit from the eggs is not an easy thing. Since we had so many urchins, we resorted to rinsing them in water, which got most of the grit out and probably some of the flavor too. Here is a clean urchin with eggs ready for scooping.
Next episode: What we did with all those eggs: Spaghetti ai Ricci di Mare con Limone e Mentuccia Romana (Spaghetti With Sea Urchin, Lemon and Field Balm).