SAN FRANCISCO — It marks the start of the holiday season for old-time San Franciscans and folks all over the Bay Area. There’s fresh crab available. The holidays start tonight.

Local fishermen were out on the San Francisco Bay all day reeling in the first crab catch of the season Saturday.

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Mel Wickliff of Pier 45 Seafood has been a wholesaler on the bay for more than 50 years and he hasn’t tired of the custom, the routine, the excitement of the start of crab season, yet.

“I don’t know where it really started back a hundred years ago, but I think it just goes along with the concept of a feast,” said Wickliff. “This is a local popular item, I mean, everyone eats crabs around the world, and these are particularly good crabs.”

Often the start of crab season is marred by labor strife, arguments over price, even bad weather. This season is off to a great start — an agreement on a wholesale price of $3 per pound and the weather couldn’t be better, nor the catch.

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So, how do you cook them? Thirty-year veteran Captain James Smith of the Mad Dog shared his recipe.

“A cup of sea salt in boiling water, put your crab in. After you see the bubbles start [forming] again, re-boil for 13 minutes. Put them in cold water for 5 minutes and the crab’s done. Ready to eat,” said Smith.

Like everything, prices will vary, but expect to pay about $6 to $9 per pound in the store.

Happy crab season! Happy holidays!

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