1. All Old Bay Everything
Here’s the thing about Old Bay: Once you have a taste for it, much like some kind of horrible drug, you will never be able to get enough of it. You will be constantly finding new things to sprinkle it on, getting more and more audacious in your choices. My personal favorites are: crabs (obviously), french fries, popcorn, V8 (or its slutty cousin, the bloody mary), chicken, and baked potatoes. It’s just so good, so complex and familiar and warm and FLAWLESS. It is the One Spice To Rule Them All.
2. Cream of Crab Soup
If your cream of crab does not contain two things (or, in my opinion, three), it is deeply wrong: It needs Old Bay, sherry, and some liberal ass chunks of jumbo lump meat. I don’t want any of that lame backfin confetti that is mostly bones littering my delicious creaminess. I want the real stuff.
3. Good BBQ
If you think that Maryland doesn’t have its barbecue game finely tuned, you are so wrong. And I feel badly for you.
4. Smith Island Cake
Do you dream of a cake that is perfectly layered, that stays moist as hell and provides a satisfying cake-to-frosting ratio with each bite? Of course you do, that is the Ultimate Human Quest. Well, if you haven’t tried a Smith Island Cake — our state dessert — you are missing out. They come in a range of flavors, are distinctly delicious, and come in HUGE slices with sides of whipped cream and strawberries. Every good meal should end with one of these.
5. Crab Dip
Crabbbbb dipppppp. The rich, cheesy, hot, chunkily-crabbed masterpiece. Tearing off a piece of warm baguette and dipping it in a fresh-out-of-the-oven dish of crab dip is one of life’s truly great pleasure, and stumbling on a jagged morsel of crustacean is like finding buried treasure. Just make sure to hold no loyalties when it comes to who gets the last piece of bread — every man for himself.
I have to be honest — I hate oysters. But I can already hear the indignant cries of my friends from home if I post this article without highlighting the briny, endangered importance of the Chesapeake oyster. Whether they’re being consumed by the dozen with just a squeeze of lemon, or being tossed back in a shot glass with some cocktail sauce, Maryland means oysters. Even if I, personally, will be abstaining.
Utz are Maryland’s state chip, they are delicious, and they come in Old Bay flavor. That’s about all you need to know.
8. Natty Boh
The Rolls Royce of shitty beers, Boh is an institution in Maryland. Everyone knows Mr. Boh (WHO IS NOT THE PRINGLES GUY), and that he once proposed to the Utz girl. Everyone has tried a Bohtini (Natty Boh served in a martini glass with Old Bay and lemon on the rim). Everyone knows the beer you can bring to the party with absolutely zero notice. Boh is like water.
9. Full-On Crabs
I’m about to lose some serious #ChesapeakeCred here and admit that I am terrible at crab feasts. I didn’t move to Maryland until I was in fifth grade, so I didn’t have that crucial mallet-and-knife training that starts when you’re essentially a toddler. Hardcore Marylanders know how to open and clean a crab before they know how to write their own names, and this was not my case. I almost always need someone to help me open it, clean out the guts, and get me the divine meat, but it’s still the best experience. Your hands are caked with Old Bay, everyone is drinking a six-pack of Natty Boh each (at least), and you basically just spend four hours sitting around a table laughing and talking and breaking apart sea creatures. It’s amazing, and everyone deserves to live it at least once.