Fresh Maryland steamed crabs, served by the dozen at a restaurant on the Chesapeake Bay
Maryland’s long history, diverse inhabitants, varied landscapes, and of course, the Chesapeake Bay have contributed to a delicious cornucopia of foods and culinary traditions. In a lively and engaging overview, Christine Rai explores the state’s signature flavors, both familiar and unique, from the Appalachians of western Maryland to the Chesapeake’s Eastern Shore. Delve into the history and cultural roots of beloved Old Bay seasoning, Smith Island cake, “Natty Boh” beer, and other distinctive food and drink that locals (and fans from around the country) can’t get enough of.
Uncover unusual food items like shad roe, ramps, and muskrat, and explore how Marylanders both indigenous and immigrant, historic and recent, have evolved the delicious foodways of the “Land of Pleasant Living.” And look to what the future of Maryland cuisine may hold and how this legacy could be shaped by natural and human forces.
Rai, a professor at Frederick Community College, has a passion for food studies, culture, and folklore.
Crab cakes are a revered Maryland food tradition. But will rising temperatures in the Chesapeake Bay and a more acidic ocean spell trouble for its iconic crabs, oysters, and fish? Smithsonian magazine investigates.
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