As the state’s most important urban center, Baltimore has long been shaped by both its rich cultural heritage and its proximity to the Chesapeake Bay.
Blue crabs, both soft-shelled and otherwise, are virtually a food group unto themselves in these parts, whether you prefer crab cakes, she-crab soup, crab fluff, crab imperial, crab claws or some other spin on a similar theme. Fresh fish also makes for a popular entree, notably rockfish and Lake Trout (the latter neither real trout, nor from a lake but rather the mysteriously nicknamed whiting aka Silver hake), the latter frequently featured as a fried fish sandwich. Codfish forms the basis for “coddies”, cakes of Codfish and potatoes, but there are also oysters in abundance both in Baltimore and down the coast at large, steamed, stewed, frittered, grilled, raw and so forth.
Forgo the seafood for an afternoon though and lunch instead on a pit beef sandwich somewhere along the Pulaski Highway for a taste of the city’s own twist on barbecue: think thin slices of top round beef grilled on the outside, rare on the inside, served over a kaiser roll with white onions and an abundance of horseradish. You won’t find it in high end restaurants but die-hard fans will argue happily about its superiority to the Philly Cheesesteak.
Complement the feast with a drink also crafted locally, like a pint of Resurrection at the Brewers Art in Central Baltimore or a 3 Lions Ale at The Wharf Rat, just up from the Inner Harbor.
Daring travelers with an appetite for the unusual won’t want to cross state borders without a detour down to southern Maryland, where the local specialty in St. Mary’s County is stuffed ham, served, hot, cold, spicy and less so, depending on where one finds it. Bon appetit!