First time I met a crab cake, or for that matter a crab, was in Maryland in 1960. I was in a tavern in Perryville, MD and featured on the menu was something called deviled crab cake sandwiches. I was 18 and my seafood experience was limited to Mrs. Paul’s fish sticks and the occasional skillet fried blue gill from a local farm pond.
Immediately I took a shine to crab cakes and haven’t passed up too many opportunities to enjoy them since those days of being stationed along the Chesapeake Bay. About five or six years ago I had what remains the best crab cake experience of my life along those same waters. A cousin who lives in Maryland took us to a local crab shack and we had lump meat crab cakes. They consisted mostly of pure lumps of blue crab meat with just enough egg and bread crumbs to bind them together. Perfectly fried, I suspect in butter, they were crunchy, succulent, and sweet.
In April of this year, as I’ve already reported, I enjoyed the freshest crab eating experience ever. Hanging out with some Vietnamese-Americans on a pier in Tampa Bay and enjoying beer steamed blue crabs just plucked from the waters of the bay. That will be an experience to remember forever.
Over the Memorial Day weekend we stopped in a Kroger store and while passing the seafood department I noticed they had “Maryland crab cakes” on sale for $1 each. So, I had the clerk wrap up a couple along with half a pound of cooked shrimp. Plan was to have a quick evening meal that wouldn’t require too much heat to prepare, given the expected daytime temperatures.
I asked the clerk if these were made from fresh crab and after looking at the label he reported back, “…imitation crab.” Well, last time I checked they didn’t catch many imitation crabs in Chesapeake Bay so I assumed Mr. Kroger was really saying these cakes were in the style of Maryland.
Memorial Day evening, with the ambient temperature hovering north of 90 degrees, I heated up a little canola oil and put some crisp on those cakes. While they were mostly filler and made from imitation crab I can report they were in the style of the deviled crab cakes I first experienced over 50 years ago. Thanks Mr. K for providing me with an inexpensive and quick treat that evoked memories of long ago.