Shiny Metal Tiger

Experiences in Baltimore, MD

Baltimore crab

with 2 comments

Last weekend my mom came to visit me in Baltimore, and among other pleasant pastimes we partook in a Baltimore style crustacean feast.

Maryland has long been known for its crabs, and although I’m told that most of the crabs served nowadays are from the Gulf, the tradition is still strong.

Aside from the Chesapeake blue crab, the main characteristic of Maryland crab houses is the way food is served. If you can manage to ignore the telltale state of the other diners’ tables, you might be surprised to sit down at a rather austere table:

Two hammers, two knives and a brown paper tablecloth

No keeping up appearances here, but then a lack of attention to decor often means that the quality of food is enough to keep people coming back. Then, more expectedly, comes the ordering. This particularly place (Bill’s Terrace Inn, supposed to be one of the better ones) had some standard items on the menu: fries, salads, few different kinds of seafood, but none of it was particularly appealing. We were here for crabs, after all, and crabs we would have. In this regard, the waitress will give you a choice of normal, large or jumbo crabs, all at daily rates. We ordered half a dozen large crabs, which came to a very modest $31. After a reasonable wait someone will be around to launch an avalanche of crabs and Old Bay spice right onto your paper tablecloth, and then, as they say, it’s on!

At that point, the purpose of the hammer was rather obvious, though I was rather puzzled as to a use for the knife. So I went with the crude but effective method of ripping things apart and pulling out the meat with my fingers, applying the hammer where necessary.

Honestly, I thought there was rather too much salt in the spice mix, or perhaps too much spice mix on the crabs. You really had to try and eat around it to maximize your enjoyment of the meal. The crabs were very good, though, as they are wont to be if not mishandled. And half a dozen was just right. When the dust settled, our table looked thus:

Total Annihilation

Sometimes when enjoying local cuisine, you wonder whether you look like a complete tourist. In this case I wasn’t very much in doubt, given that 90% of the patrons were black, and none of them had to ask whether one could order less than a whole dozen crabs. Even ignoring these giveaways, we noticed one party in particular who obviously had way more know-how in the field of crab houses:

Don't want no stinky crabs on our fingers...

Written by Martin

2010/06/29 at 21:03

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. Is it possible to order without the Old Bay spice or can you have it “ON THE SIDE”?


    2010/06/29 at 22:33

    • Not sure actually, but I don’t see why not. It’s not Louisiana style where they boil it with the spice, so though you might be frowned upon I’m sure you could ask them to tone it down.
      I’ll have to try some other crab houses and see how their spicing is.


      2010/06/30 at 10:54

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