Sunday, August 7, 2011

Maryland Crabs!

Yesterday we planned to go to Hershey Park, land of chocolate, water slides, and roller coasters; basically, paradise. We made the plans back in March, and we'd spent months looking forward to it. As the special day approached though, things started looking grim. First, three of our group had to cancel, and we were down from seven to four. Then, there was the weather. All week long, we checked but the forecast religiously. I even changed my location to Hershey, PA on my phone's weather app. But the forecast never changed, and called for thunderstorms all day. We felt so let down, like little kids. I told my BFFs Shannon and Kelsey that we could do something else instead, an indoor activity
[Me, Shan, Kels, Spring 2010]

But none of us could think of anything fun to do indoors. I swear, there's something about the summer that makes staying inside sound like torture. Unless there's a 120F heat index, that is. Gross

Anyway, one of us suggested crabs, and after that, there was no other option. We had to get crabs. The end. Joe suggested Sue Island Dock Bar in Essex, MD, and within 5 minutes, we'd made a reservation.

We ate out on the dock, under a pavilion filled with picnic tables. It stormed a little while we were out there, but we didn't get too wet, and the breeze off of the water was really nice.

We ordered 3 dozen large males, a couple buckets of beer, and some corn. That's 9 crabs each! Waiting for crabs is torture, but we had beer and live music to entertain us!

[Me and Kels]

[Shan and Joe]

And they came out soon enough, steaming hot, spicy, sweet, salty, and delicious.

We dug right in, and ate until we couldn't eat anymore. And then, we ate more anyway, because you don't waste crabs! Sacrilege! 





We were there for about 3 hours, enjoying the food, the atmosphere, the music, and each others' company. By the end, the table was quite messy, just as it should be. And as for us? We were just as messy as the table. I didn't quite make it to my 9 crabs, but I came close, eating eight, plus an ear of corn and two beers. 

I know they eat crabs all over the world, but nowhere does it like good old Maryland. There are a couple of ways to get crabs around here. You can go crabbing, catch the crabs yourself, steam them at home, and eat them on a picnic table in your back yard. This is probably the most authentic MD experience, but you have to have a lot of knowledge, skills and supplies to do this. You have to know how to swim, how to drive a boat, know a good spot, know how to actually catch the crabs, and how to cook 'em. You need the supplies, like licencing, the boat, the crabbing supplies, bushels for your loot, crab pots, mallets, etc. It's a big commitment and investment to be a crabber, and most people don't do this.

A little lower down on the crab status totem pole is buying crabs on the side of the road. Yes, the side of the road. A local commercial crabber will set up his truck on the side of the road with hand painted signs telling you that he's there, what he has, and how much the cheapest crabs cost. You'll see something like, "live crabs, $10," which probably refers to a dozen small females. But, you'll probably walk away spending 30 per dozen on large males. It's just how it is. For this, you only need cooking and eating skills and supplies.
[Summer 2010, Roadside crabs, live in the crab pot]

Then there's the seafood huts. You order crabs at these places, pick them up freshly steamed, and take them home to eat. You just need eating supplies and skills for this option.

Lastly, there are the crab shacks, one of which we went to last night. These are great because you don't need any supplies or skills at all. Except money, cause boy are they pricey! I'd say these are the most popular way to eat crabs, because they do all of the work for you.

If you like seafood, you have to come to the old line state and go to a crab house. It's something truly local and unique, and an experience you won't get sitting in a fancy sit-down seafood joint downtown. By the end of it, you'll have a full belly, you'll smell like The Bay for at least 48 hours, you'll have prune-y fingers and Old Bay in your hair, and you'll love every bit of it.

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