If you ever visit Maryland, you will undoubtedly see the genuine love and pride that all Marylanders outwardly express for their home state. At first you may wonder, “Why is that guy wearing really obnoxious Maryland flag shorts?” and “What is a Berger cookie?” or “Why is everyone obsessed with a small crustacean??”
Although we Maryland natives may admittedly go overboard on flag apparel, be Birdland fanatics (O’s and Ravens, baby), and not really fit in the mold of a Northern or Southern state, we can collectively agree that our state is pretty epic.
Despite all the amazing things we have to offer, Maryland is unparalleled in one aspect: we know how to catch, cook, and consume crabs. More specifically, Blue Crabs: the native inhabitants of the beautiful Chesapeake Bay. Eating crabs is a way of life and picking them is a skill we’ve mastered since childhood.
Why do we love them? Simple.
First and foremost, crabs are seriously delicious. There’s just no way around it. Whether you like them with melted butter, tarter sauce, Old Bay, or lemon juice, crab meat won’t fail to satisfy your seafood craving.
2. Old Bay.
Let me take a moment to highlight Maryland’s favorite seasoning: Old Bay. A crab bake is never complete without a good dozen cans of Old Bay nearby, and every steamed crab looks naked without a good douse in the signature orange spice. This blend of flavors is truly unique and Marylanders like to put it on everything: crab meat, chicken, corn-on-the-cob, popcorn, french fries, any grilled veggie, chips, and even ice cream. I absolutely recommend you try some for yourself.
3. So. Many. Options.
While picking crabs is a classic way to indulge, it can get messy and be a little time consuming. If you don’t want to work for your jumbo lump meat, there are a million other ways to prepare it or order it at your favorite restaurant.
Maryland is to crab as Bubba Gump is to shrimp:
You can fry it, broil it, bake it, saute it. There’s Maryland crab soup, cream of crab soup, crab dip, steamed crabs, king crab, snow crab, lump crab cake, soft-shell crab, crab pizza, crab chips, crab pretzels, etc.
Phew. That’s a lot of options.
4. It’s rewarding.
Eating a crab is no simple task for a first-timer, and hammering at a shell is probably not the way you envisioned eating your meal. However, it’s all worth it when you hit the claw at a perfect angle, cracking the shell just right to expose a juicy piece of meat. Absolute satisfaction.
5. A sense of community.
Attend any crab bake and you will immediately find yourself at ease. There’s nothing like getting down and dirty (actually though, you do get pretty dirty) while whacking away at a bushel of crabs next to a stranger. Some of your crab will inevitably fly across the table and hit another person; but don’t fret, because the same will be happening to you. Offer your companions a Natty Boh, laugh it off, and enjoy the people around you.
Despite the lingering smell of Old Bay that will never leave your fingertips, along with the unavoidable Crustacean Revenge (defined as: little cuts you receive when unsuccessfully trying to open a crab; often associated with stinging pain as Old Bay spice enters such a cut), crabs are a Marylanders best friend.
So, next time your friend pulls out their MD flag apparel, ask them to take you out for crabs. You won’t regret it.