Fill the bottom of your biggest, deepest pot with potato chunks. Big chunky ones. Peel them or not, whatever. I don’t.
Cut a bunch of raw corn on the cob into two inch wheels. Quantity: as much corn as you want to eat.
Throw in a peeled onion, sliced in half from pole to pole. Maybe a whole serrano pepper or two, a jalapeño that you’ve split open. Whatever.
Put in a layer of clean live Manila clams, medium small is ok. Quantity: one or two fistfuls per person eating, plus an additional seven or eight fistfuls according to taste.
Put in a layer of clean mussels, medium sized, thin shells, live, preferably from the state of Washington. Add to that a layer of raw shrimp or prawns. Quantities: you figure it out.
Put a crab or two in whole; live or freshly steamed. Crack it before it goes in, or crack it hot later, or let people crack their own crab. I don’t know, do what you think is right.
If the guests are new to eating crab, I’d advise getting the crab steamed at the fish counter and then cracking it when it has cooled. Here’s my standard procedure: pull the head off the body from the rear hinge, rip out the gills and the face and throw them away, separate the claws and crack them mid-segment with the back of your chef’s knife. Now all that’s left are the legs attached at the body; slice to separate the right and left sides, and then slice to keep the pairs of legs together, attached with knuckle meat. You can crack the meaty segments of the leg with the back of your knife… or not. Four pairs of legs go into the pot. Two claws go into the pot. Crab’s shell goes into the pot, soup side up.
Dump a bottle of cheap American beer over the seafood and into the pot. Oops, forgot to add dry spices (whatever’s in your spice rack, or whatever spice mix someone brought you from New Orleans). Dump your spices on top, and then wash in with a cup of water, letting them trickle into the mix.
Put the cover on and then cook it on high or medium high or medium or medium low, whatever. After the beer boils lower heat a little, come back in 10 or 15 minutes, and check to see that shrimps are pink all the way through, clams and mussels are open, corns are soft, and potatoes are tender.
Set the table: newsprint or butcher paper to cover the table, a bucket for shells, a trivet for your crab pot. Big kitchen spoon to ladle out shellfish. Crusty bread sliced. Don’t get fussy about dishes or napkins or other pendejadas; it’s a crab pot, not a cotillion. Maybe set out some empty rice bowls for the Asians who want to drink the broth and slurp it with their chunks of crusty bread.
If it’s a lot of people eating, maybe you want to pour the seafood into some lasagna dishes for easier access. Tell your guests to start eating immediately, it’s really dumb to let this get cold. Like really, really dumb. Lose respect for people who get distracted and let it get cold. Cut them out of your life. Inevitably someone will try to get up and serve everybody their drinks, yell at them to sit the hell down and eat it while it’s hot, and remind them that fussing about something other than hot food is some IRRITATING. SHIT. Should have taken care of that before hot food appeared, dummy. Honestly!
What else? Some people put chunks of cooked sausage in to their crab pot; you do you. People from New Orleans will call it a seafood boil, and people from New England who did the twist at beach blanket parties in the 50s might call it a clam bake. There will inevitably be someone who doesn’t like seafood; make sure they have some Creamy Jiff and Wonderbread for them.
Spread out some beach blankets and put on some surf rock. Stand next to the beach blankets and do the twist until the sun sets. After sunset it’s cigarettes and crooners, bonus if you lean on the hood of a Cadillac with someone else’s letterman’s jacket. Wonder if man will ever walk on the moon or if we’ll have visual telephones someday. Discuss if this beach party could be more fun if you played up some Polynesian stereotypes. Take the shells out to the trash when everyone’s done. Look up at the moon and wonder if some Soviet kids are taking out their crab pot shells, looking up at the same moon.
Slice an apple or an orange for dessert and pass them around on a plate. People will decline the fruit and then take one and eat it, and then take another one. People always think they don’t want fruit, but they do.