The Dabney restaurant features dishes cooked in a hearth that is modeled after those used in the 19th century (Photo: Andrew Cebulka)
From Chesapeake crab cakes to Manhattan clam chowder, shoo-fly pie to Smith Island cake, the culinary landscape of the Mid-Atlantic has always been a rich and varied one.
It’s been shaped by the region’s geography, cultural history, agriculture, and the widely diverse traditions of the peoples who settled here in the earliest days of the nation and those drawn here over the following centuries.
Mid-Atlantic cuisine is now in the midst of rediscovery and revival by chefs from Brooklyn to Nashville. One of them is Jeremiah Langhorne, a Charlottesville native who spent years researching regional ingredients and culinary traditions before opening his Shaw restaurant, The Dabney, late last year. Much of his inspiration came from Housekeeping in Old Virginia, a cookbook first published in 1897. The Dabney features dishes cooked in a hearth modeled after those used in the 19th century, and prepared with ingredients native to the area like cured Virginia ham and Chesapeake oysters, among others. Chef Spike Gjerde’s offerings at Baltimore’s Woodberry Kitchen also reflect local sourcing and the regional influences of the Chesapeake. Tilghman island hot pot, fried oyster chopped salad, and Pikesville honey pie are among them.
Gjerde and Langhorne join moderator Joe Yonan, food and dining editor of the Washington Post, to discuss the culinary history of the Mid-Atlantic, how it influences their work as chefs, and why it’s seeing a boost in popularity. They also talk about the trends that might be ahead on the regional dining horizon.
In 2004, the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival celebrated the culture and heritage of America’s Mid-Atlantic region. Learn more about Mid-Atlantic maritime cooking, and try your hand at some classic recipes like Chesapeake rockfish imperial and creamed cornbread.