Photo Journal: Maryland Crab Feast

Let it be said: we’re fiercely proud of North Carolina, we’re here by choice, and we’re here to stay.

But a lesser-known fact about This Paper Ship is that while Ashley was born a Tarheel, Joel grew up in Maryland. Furthermore, as (at least) a 6th-generation Chesapeake Bay native, he is no stranger to eating crabs. Last weekend we were up in St. Mary’s County to shoot his cousin’s senior portraits and his one request was to have a good, old-fashioned Maryland crab feast.

Some background: the Atlantic blue crab is indigenous to the entire East Coast of the U.S., ranging from Nova Scotia to Argentina, but it’s most famously known in the Chesapeake. Marylanders are as protective of crabs as Texans are of barbecue, and in their opinion, there’s really only one way to enjoy them: delivered live in a bushel that day, steamed with copious amount of Old Bay seasoning (as author Myla Goldberg said, “This stuff is what Maryland tastes like”), dumped fresh out of the pot onto a picnic table, picked apart hot, and dipped in melted butter. (If you’ve got room afterwards,  you can always fill in the cracks with corn on the cob, baked beans, and coleslaw.)

Everyone’s got their own crab-picking preferences; as this was Ashley’s first time, she had three generations of Selbys training her on slightly different techniques. In the end, though, it’s all about extracting the glorious white meat from each sunset-orange shell. The genus of the blue crab, Callinectes, comes from the Greek for “beautiful swimmer,” and we’re inclined to agree.


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