Tuesday, July 14, 2009

What Summer Tastes Like

This is what summer tastes like if you were grown on the succulents foods of the East Coast. This is what socializing on hot summer evenings consists of...this is what you wait for all year.

That is what my birthday meal used to be...before I moved a state away and further inland. That's it right there. It doesn't come any better than that. Maryland blue crabs done the right way. YUMMMM!

Here's one pre-crab pot! The Maryland blue crab, Callinectes Sapidus which means beautiful swimmer. My, when you watch them fluidly glide through the water, you know how appropriately they are named. They're feisty...snappy...a bit mean. They'll eat you first if you don't eat them, so you might as well not feel sorry for the little scavengers. Don't be deceived! There is nothing, and I mean nothing, like the taste of a Maryland Blue Crab. In a pinch, if you have to get crabs out of Louisiana, well all right, but only as a poor substitute. And, if you've never had them...plan a trip to Maryland's Eastern Shore in the late summer or early fall and run to a crab house. Do not walk...RUN!

We love them so much, we've even written books about them and the life-style and industry that has grown around them. If you'd like a good summer read pick up, William Warner's- Beautiful Swimmers: Watermen, Crabs & The Chesapeake Bay.

In Maryland, we do NOT use butter on crabs; that's for Maine lobsters. Many of the crab houses, heavily patronized by tourists, now put melted butter out with the crabs. But, that's some sort of freak of nature to those of us who grew up in B'More or the surrounding eastern shore areas.

Oh, we won't make you feel foolish or unwelcome if you like it...we'll just smile at you knowing you're not from around these parts and get back to eating our crabs the correct way...steamed gently with rock salt, occasionally some beer, and tons of this on them....

Old Bay! Yep...and if you're like us, in the dead of winter when you're longing for the taste of summer, you find that you flip this can off your spice shelf and put it on chicken or potatoes, or anything else that will hold up under its bold and flavorful self! You have to try this if you like spice and warmth in your cooking!

Along the Eastern Shore, over the Bay Bridge headed toward Ocean City, you pass so many small towns. They used to be sleepy, picturesque places when I was a kid, but now they're growing and becoming a bit too metropolitan to my taste. Still, I'd live there if I could.

You see the beautiful state flag flying proudly next to the American flag. Flapped by the stiff breezes that blow across the water. Boats anchored bobbing in the wind.

I love that flag! It's so medieval, isn't it? That Lord Calvert was quite the courtly gentleman! Did you know that Maryland's state sport is jousting? Yeah! Let's here it for the old ways! The Queen of The Universe is very pleased!

We start them young in Maryland...that love of the crab...the crack of the mallet...

It's all about the socialization that happens over the long time that has to be invested to pick a crab clean of its sweet goodness. You talk. You laugh. You drink beer or soda. You get dirty as you eat and eat until you're too full. And, don't worry that you don't know how to pick a crab. It's our duty as Marylanders to help you learn the ways of getting down to business. We love showing first timers how to do it!

But, don't take my word for it...here's a great article from The New York Times: http://travel.nytimes.com/2009/07/12/travel/12crab.html?hpw and read about how good summer can be...Summers in Maryland....along the Chesapeake Bay or the ocean areas.

Summers in The Land of Pleasant Living- Ahhh! I truly miss it and it's never far from my thoughts. Really, I can't believe that summer can be better any place else on earth. But, I'm willing to try. Because life is about finding the best in all situations and locations.

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka I'm From Baltimore, Hon!
All images today courtesy of the Internet

19 comments:

QueenBee said...

Ah, summer living...isn't it just the best? I've never had Maryland fare, but I'd certainly love to. One of the best things about traveling to other places is trying out the local cuisine. Okay, I just really love to eat. Thanks for sharing, I got hungry just looking!

anne h said...

That looks wonderful...party city!

Kathleen Krucoff said...

You are making my mouth water and it's morning for goodness sake!!!! Great post. And yes, Old Bay works all year round in our book.

Hope you had a wonderful birthday.

Hugs!

Sara said...

What a lovely place to spend a Summer. I felt as if I were there. xx

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Your Maryland maritime lifestyle sounds so exotic to this land-locked prairie girl and yes, what a great flag!

Chester said...

Mom's gonna have to admit she has never had a blue crab. She's only learned to eat shrimpers in the last couple of years. And she liked crab rangoon and didn't even know there was crab in them. (I know, she's weird!)
Now me-I could crack a crab if I got the chance. I know I could.
You sure do make them sound good.
Just lets more for you crab-lovers to eat!
Chester and weird Mom

Genie Sea said...

I fell in love with Maruyland when I visited a few years ago. The ocean was a given attraction as was the seafood. But what really got me was how friendly and warm and welcoming everybody was. And the houses looked like something from a storybook.

Big Pissy said...

I've never been to maryland, but now I want to go!!!! Great post! :)

joyce said...

I'm glad I was able to get on today...and I thank-you for answering my question...I have been considering Firefox. In the meantime, I enjoyed reading about your crab...and your oh so evident praise & love of your home state. I must connfess I'm not a big seafood eater, I have never tried crab or lobster (which to me are exchangeable...don't shoot me!!). Give me fresh panfried rainbow trout. I must say I do like your flag though....medieval is the word for it. And i do like the way you arrange the platter on the table..surrounded by..what are they...newspapers?

Eileen said...

Holly Hon ... said so well and truly the wooden mallet is too much for the old-timers who use the back of a knife and fingers only ... throw in some corn on the cob ... have plenty of paper towels (napkins just can't hold up)and it's Mmmm Mmmm Good! Would you like to come for a visit Labor Day or soon thereafter?

Kavindra said...

Oh you really took me back! Going over Bay Bridge in the summers and those wonderful sleepy towns. (Funny I am ashamed to say I never noticed that groovy old flag...)Sitting at a long table with a mallet and a red and white checked table cloth, and everyone laughing. Yep, that's good eatin and good fun indeed!

Not So Glamorous Housewife said...

I love old bay. So good.

Joanna Jenkins said...

Oh! My! Gawd! I need to plan a trip to Baltimore in late summer or early fall..... I am drooling over the blue crab and I don't think i've ever had it-- or at last not hat it "right". It sounds like perfection.

Thanks for another great (mouth-watering) story Holly. It's easy to see why you get homesick :-)

xo

cinner said...

Holly I like the idea of beating a crab with a mallot with you. It all looks very interesting to me, and I would have been one of the ones putting butter on it. Damn now I am hungry!

Mel said...

While I can certainly appreciate the beauty of your home-town - I do love the ocean from any coast..I'm gonna have to skip the invitation to eat the crabs.....

...I have this aversion to eating things (of the non-vegetable variety) that appear on my plate looking the same as they did while they were alive....crabs, lobsters, fish with its head still on...:(

But I"m sure if you like that sort of thing, the Maryland ones are the best...;)

beth said...

I have never eaten a crab.....can you believe it ?

crab cakes....yes
spring rolls with crab...yes
crab on top of my fish.....yes

but the whole hammer, messy, pulling apart thing...not me, ever....

does that make me lazy ?

Ann Marie said...

Oohh..steamed crabs! Makes me jealous! The first time I had them--almost 40 years ago--I thought they were dirty and washed the "sand" off with the backyard hose. I've learned!

Life With Dogs said...

I spent a number of summers on the the Chesapeake bay (in Calvert County) as a child - my father owned a house there. Every other day we would pull up half a dozen crab pots, load up the picnic table and invite the neighbors. We provided crabs, they supplied the rest. Great fun and food.

Yesterday, we visited a neighbor in Vermont and I noticed a can of Old Bay spice on the counter. I was slack-jawed. In twenty years of living in New England, I had not seen the stuff anywhere. Great flashback moment.

Now I'm stuck with a craving I can't cure. Gee, thanks! :)

Cam said...

I'm with Mel on this...

It totally weirds me out to eat something that still looks like it might get up off my plate and take off. It's silly I know, but it's just this 'ewww' factor with me. However, if you want to crack a few for me, I'd be happy to reap the rewards!

I feel the same way about Georgia peaches. They are so much juicer here. I promise!

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