5 Reasons Baltimore’s Food Culture is One of Americas Hidden Gems
Baltimore, also known as Charm City, is known for a lot of different things. Outsiders may identify Baltimore because of their sports teams such as the Baltimore Ravens or the Baltimore Orioles. You may have heard about Baltimore for various reasons, but have you heard about its food culture. I will show you why Baltimore’s food culture is one of America’s hidden gems.
Maryland has there own type of seasoning when it comes to its food. Baltimore uses one of those seasons in particular. One of the condiments that you can probably find on almost every dish in Baltimore is Old Bay. Baltimoreans pronounce Old Bay like Ol’Bay. This salty seasoning has been a tradition for food flavoring in Baltimore for around 75 years.
Citizens of Baltimore put this seasoning on everything. Whether its fries, fish, crabs chicken, beef, pork, and sometimes vegetables, Old bay will be seasoned on that food. In 1939 a German refugee named Gustav Brunn invented this 18 spice blend. The name of the product comes from a ship line in the Chesapeake Bay. Old bay is a better version of the regular seasoning salt that you can find in many dishes throughout the world. If you ever come to Baltimore, you have to get a meal that has Old Bay in it to experience the flavor of Baltimore. This product is only distributed in Maryland areas. There is almost no one Baltimore Marylander who doesn’t have this season in their cupboard.
2. Blue Crabs
The Blue crab has a considerable population in the Chesapeake Bay. Citizens of Baltimore have been taking advantage of that vast population by mastering cooking these tasty sea creatures. Baltimore has become one of the biggest ports in the crab industry. All across Baltimore in restaurants and taverns, they specialize in the cooking of steamed blue crabs. When eating these blue crabs like a Baltimoreans, don’t expect to keep your hands clean. It’s a tradition to serve these crabs in a bushel. Restaurants and small dining areas would throw a pile of steamed blue crabs in the middle of your dining table covered in newspaper and give you a hammer and some napkins to dine. Breaking the crab down piece by piece in search of the meat is the best part. Most Baltimoreans have participated in this tradition at an early age. I remember breaking down my first crab at the age of five. The crabs are most likely seasoned heavy with Old Bay seasoning.
Just be careful of the part of the crab known as the dead men, and everything else is suitable for sucking and eating. Some of the most known destinations to partake in eating these delicious crabs are Captain James Crab House, Nick’s Fish House, and L. P. Steamers. The blue crab is a delightful dish that is precisely Baltimore’s culture.
3. Amazing Dine-in Experiences at the Inner Harbor.
One of Baltimore’s best attractions is the inner harbor. The harbor is home to many attractions such as hotels, historical monuments, shopping establishments, the National Aquarium, street performers, clubs, and fine dining, and local sports teams. When it comes to dining, the harbor has done a great job with infusing the beauty of mother nature. At the same time, people eat popular dishes from their food establishments. It’s a beautiful site to eat near the harbor as the Sun goes down over the beautiful waterfront. There are many restaurants to draw anybody’s interest, but a couple of establishments stand out more than the rest.
4. The Capital Grille and Miss Shirley’s Café
This steakhouse and wine bar is located directly across the street from the waterfront. Capital Grille is a chain restaurant that didn’t become established in Baltimore. Ever since this place came to Baltimore, Baltimoreans has made this place one of there own. The restaurant has many pictures of Baltimore’s favorite personalities all over the walls. While on Saturdays, you will see many tourists in this restaurant. Still, during workdays, citizens all come to dine regularly. Capital Grille is a very prestigious dine-in experience, so be sure to dress to impress. This restaurant is one of Baltimore’s best places to get a great steak.
This restaurant is also home to many different types of great aged wines. Sitting on the outside dining area and enjoying a steak and drinking with smooth old wine, while the Sun goes down is a Baltimore thing. The essence of fine dines Baltimore has to offer.
Miss Shirley Cafe has an establishment located directly next to the harbor but also has two other chain restaurants throughout Baltimore. This establishment has been voted Maryland Favorite restaurant by the Restaurant Association of Maryland multiple times. Miss Shirley’s Café has also been a recurring restaurant on the Food Network. Miss Shirley’s Café specializes in breakfast food but has food for any time of the day. This restaurant offers many healthy dinner specialties. With so many people changing the way they eat and trying to become more healthier people, this restaurant is the place for you. Some of there most known specialties are the Fall Harvest Apple Steel-Cut Oatmeal, and Breakfast Banna Split. Miss Shirley’s is the perfect brunch restaurant to eat at and experience the culture of Baltimore.
5. The Chicken Box
What is a Chicken Box? A chicken box is fried chicken wings and fries. This quick dish is everything for Baltimoreans. An establishment that serves chicken boxes can are seen on almost every corner in Baltimore city. Most Baltimoreans are always on the go because the city never quiets down, so a chicken box is quick fast and so delicious. This dish may seem very basic, but I have lived in multiple places throughout the United States, and there have been no comparisons that I have found. Stop by Sunnys or Stokos and experience a chicken box for yourself.
These places elude Baltimore’s food culture. There were so many places to choose from because Baltimore has a rich tradition of dinning. With these five places, you will be able to experience the culture as a true Baltimorean does every day.
Have you ever been to Baltimore? What foods do you think shows Baltimore’s food culture? Leave a comment below!
Morgan State University Alumni. Military veteran.