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Contemplating the rare qualities of the softshell crab in Biloxi. by Julian Brunt The briny waters of the Gulf of Mexico offer up an abundance of seafood that is unequaled in variety and quality. Thus, the recipes created for that abundance by those lucky enough to live on its shores - gumbo, courtbouillon and etouffée come to mind - are famed near and far. But there is one delicacy that you may never sample unless you visit the Gulf Coast during late summer/early fall and have the good luck to arrive at just the right time. The blue crab (callinectes sapidus), which is harvested by the multitudes in the shallow waters of the Gulf, must shed its hard shell periodically as it grows into a bigger fellow. When the shell is discarded, he becomes a softshell crab, but for only a few days. Called a buster when his shell first starts to come undone, this crab has three or four days as a softshell and then a few more as a paper-shell (much less desirable, but still edible). Then, if his luck holds and a big red fish has not made supper of him, it is back to life as usual for

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