Wagner’s Crab

Food and wine pair­ing is achingly fash­ion­able at the moment. I’m afraid my know­ledge about which wine to pair with what food doesn’t extend bey­ond when to drink Chab­lis and why Caber­net Sauvign­on doesn’t work with rhu­barb crumble. I am, how­ever, very good at food and per­form­ance pair­ing.  In case you haven’t come across it, food and per­form­ance pair­ing is the art of what to eat after a trip to the theatre. To give you an idea:

The Cherry Orch­ard — bit­ter cherry cla­foutis and a litre of vodka.

Death of a Sales­man — hot­dog with a friend who feels a fail­ure.

Wait­ing for Godot — a pic­nic of chick­en and raw car­rots while wait­ing for an acquaint­ance who nev­er turns up.

Tit­us Andronicus — noth­ing for a week.

I now know what to eat after a Wag­n­er opera. Hav­ing just seen Wag­n­er for the first time in the form of the Eng­lish Nation­al Opera’s pro­duc­tion of The Fly­ing Dutch­man, I’m proudly in the post-Wag­n­eri­an phase of my life. Orla Boylan’s inter­pret­a­tion of tra­gic Sen­ta — intense, intro­ver­ted and slightly obsess­ive — is mes­mer­ising. She’s a mag­ni­fi­cent sop­rano who com­bines touch­ing sens­it­iv­ity with a deep, vis­cer­al power.

At din­ner after the per­form­ance, there was some­thing on the res­taur­ant menu that seemed per­fect to fol­low such high and intense drama — crab. Not a prissy crab, dressed and piled softly back into the shell from whence it had come and piped with may­on­naise stripes. But an armour-plated Wag­n­eri­an crab that looked as though it had just clattered into the res­taur­ant, clambered onto the table and said “Ok — I dare you.” With crack­ers and probes, snip­pers and forks, it was a war of attri­tion to see who would win — the crab or me.

Orla is the best sop­rano to have at the din­ner table. Not only does she sing so beau­ti­fully that you want to weep, as a teen­ager she had a hol­i­day job boil­ing, crack­ing and dress­ing the crabs that her dad caught in pots. After the soar­ing per­form­ance of The Fly­ing Dutch­man, there was the impress­ive drama of watch­ing Orla do battle with the crab, hoi­k­i­ng out morsels of meat that the rest of us failed to find.

I watched The Fly­ing Dutch­man with a very clev­er friend who grows things almost as well as Orla sings things. My friend’s mag­ni­fi­cent garden is crammed with herbs that would make even a fish-fin­ger fan want to cook.

Ani­seed-fla­voured sweet cicely over­flows in flouncy, lacy heaps, along with drifts of lovage, clouds of wild flowers, perky rhu­barb and things I’ve nev­er heard of.

So, in hon­our of the mag­ni­fi­cent Orla Boylan — as well as The Fly­ing Dutch­man and my friend’s glor­i­ous garden — here is Wag­n­eri­an Crab Salad with Sweet Cicely and Wild Flowers along with a glass of Sweet Cicely and Cucum­ber Cock­tail. The crab isn’t the macho mon­ster that I did battle with after the opera. But just as you can’t watch a Wag­n­er opera every day of the week, you can’t fight a crab every day either.


  • 1 part Limon­cino
  • 1 part gin
  • 5 parts lem­on­ade
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Quarter of a cucum­ber, peeled
  • Ice cubes
  • A hand­ful of sweet cicely tender stems, to taste
  • Sweet cicely leaves to dec­or­ate
  • Lovage stalks, trimmed to make straws

Com­bine all the ingredi­ents, apart from the dec­or­at­ive leaves and lovage stalks, in a food pro­cessor. Pur­ee to a liquid and pour into a glass. You can strain the liquid if you prefer. The stems of lovage are hol­low and make per­fect straws. They add the most deli­cious fla­vour of per­fumed cel­ery to any drink. Gar­nish the cock­tail with sweet cicely leaves and add a lovage straw.


Serves 2

  • 100g white crab meat
  • 1 avo­cado
  • 1 dessert spoon creme fraiche
  • A few chives plus the flowers
  • A few sweet cicely stems and leaves, chopped finely
  • Zest of 1 lem­on plus a squirt of lem­on juice
  • Season­ing
  • Viola flowers or any oth­er edible flowers

Slice the avo­cado and divide between two plates. Com­bine the crab, creme fraiche, lem­on juice and zest, season­ing, chopped chives and sweet cicely stems. Pile on top of the avo­cado and dec­or­ate with chive flowers and sweet cicely flowers.

Eat and drink the above after any Wag­n­er opera. They go togeth­er per­fectly.

If You are inter­ested in pur­chas­ing medic­a­ments online, now may be the day to do so. So the next mat­ter is where can you find inform­a­tion that is reli­able. You can get such inform­a­tion fast and con­veni­ently by going online. There are many ill­nesses such as schizo­phrenia which have no cure. One of the most pop­u­lar medi­cine is Via­gra. What about com­par­is­on between Cial­is versus Levitra and ? Nearly either adult knows about . Oth­er ques­tion we have to is . The symp­toms of sexu­al dis­orders in men turn on lack of sexu­al fantas­ies. Not­with­stand­ing sex is not vital for good health, it’s cer­tainly good for any­one. So if you are exper­i­en­cing erectile prob­lems, it is essen­tial to see a cer­ti­fied phys­i­cian imme­di­ately for a com­plete med­ic test­ing. Cer­tainly, online phar­macy can hands-down help you for solv­ing your all per­son­al dif­fi­culties.

19 thoughts on “Wagner’s Crab

  1. I think these should be in everyone’s pic­nics this sea­son at opera fest­ivals, Gars­ing­ton and so on, in fact, I think cater­ers such as Jam­ie Oliver’s Fab­ulous Feasts, should have them in their inter­val sup­pers too! Inspir­a­tion­al, and oh so ori­gin­al and refresh­ing.
    As ever, your writ­ing makes for such good read­ing.

    • Such gen­er­ous com­ments — thank you so much. It was a pleas­ure to write of course, giv­en how beau­ti­ful the singing was and how stun­ning the gar­dens.

  2. I agree with mitzi. Stun­ning as usu­al charlie. I can’t fault your present­a­tion, and the food looks as good as ever. Mag­ni­fi­cent!

  3. Long ago I accom­pan­ied a friend to part of the Wag­n­er Ring cycle. We sat in the mag­ni­fi­cent but achingly uncom­fort­able chairs of San Francisco’s opera house. After­wards I under­stood why fried food is so pop­u­lar. I was cer­tainly fried after the per­form­ance.

    I believe your crab and cock­tail is par­tic­u­larly fit­ting for The fly­ing Dutch­man. Thank you for a well writ­ten and beau­ti­ful post.

    • How funny — your fried food argu­ment proves the argu­ment, don’t you think? Thanks so much, Lael.

    • I’m so delighted that you think so, Sally — thank you. And I’m glad to oblige with the gin.

  4. I do like this performance/food pair­ing concept, and won­der wheth­er it would be over-trivi­al­ising to sug­gest morsels to accom­pany the read­ing of indi­vidu­al blog posts? Thought­ful and enter­tain­ing posts are always fur­ther enhanced by a dainty little morsel, I find.

    • So true. There’s lots of exam revi­sion going on in our house at the moment — tasty little snacks help keep it on track too.

  5. I’ve got tick­ets for Fal­staff next week, so guess I should be okay for a pie and a pint?
    Your cock­tail looks delect­able.

    • And for La Sylphide a few days later … now that could be dif­fi­cult! Por­ridge and salt, fol­lowed by meringue kisses? Or a feath­er­light oat­cake? Edin­burgh rock might be the per­fect com­bin­a­tion of Scot­tish­ness and fairy pas­tels. A slab of Black Bun presen­ted with a cal­or­ie counter on the side for would-be sylphs? Or a soupçon of cockaleekie soup in a thimble-sized por­cel­ain bowl?
      I think Cov­ent Garden is miss­ing a trick here!

      • Bril­liant, Mary — I love all of them. Delighted to see you get­ting into the spir­it of things. We’ll per­suade Cov­ent Garden one day!

  6. I am the same. I wouldn’t be able to sug­gest which wine would go with what and I love your per­form­ance pair­ing..;) That crab sure looks gor­geous enough for me!! And I now have a ser­i­ous case of garden envy!!

  7. I may have to agree with Sally that this is one of your most bril­liant posts! I don’t even know how to com­ment on it… the idea and the lan­guage are utterly stu­pendous and here I sit smil­ing as I reread your words for the third time. And the crab is lus­cious and beau­ti­ful! I would love to sit one day — all day — with you and talk, just talk and hear how your brain works. Lovely!! xo

    • Is it pos­sible to have an all-time favour­ite com­ment, Jam­ie? This might just be it. And I love the idea of a whole day of talk­ing!

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