|Before: This swelling toad is in defense mode fresh off the boat.|
Inquiring minds want to know: Would you eat this guy? Well, we can tell you one thing: We folks on the Eastern Shore sure would and do! For those of you who don't know already, this is a swelling toad, or northern puffer. Swelling toads are club-shaped fish that puff up into a ball in self-defense. They visit the deep flats of the middle and lower Chesapeake Bay from spring through fall. They use their strong, beaklike mouths to crush the shells of small mollusks, crustaceans, and other invertebrates. Eastern Shore cooks fry them up into tasty treats, like those seen below.
|After: Fried swelling toad is something you don't want to miss.|
In fact, a popular local restaurant, Big's Place in Painter, Va., about 10 minutes south of Blue Crab Bay Co., recently garnered a mention in Parade magazine, which referred to the dining establishment's swelling toads as "sweet little panfish fried in butter." Who could say no to that? An interesting aside: Kelley Gaskill of Big's Place is a friend and former employee of Blue Crab Bay Co.