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July 15, 2009

Hell Point Seafood, Marconi's chopped salad and Top 10 Wednesday

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My Table Talk column in today's Taste section featured the new Hell Point Seafood in Annapolis.

Veteran chef and owner Robert Kinkead's eponymous restaurant is such a fixture in DC that I'm sure people will flock to it.

In the same column I listed some more steamed crab prices, this time in the Dundalk/Essex area. ...

I was also interested to see that Recipe Finder published a chopped salad recipe inspired by the now-closed Maison Marconi's version. (We've talked about it here before.) I don't remember all those hard-boiled eggs in the original chopped salad, but that was a long time ago.

As for Top 10, this was my Top 10 Things to Expect When Dining Out With a Restaurant Critic plus comments from last week. It was a lot of fun to write, and I wish I could come up with more topics like it to vary the 10 Best Crab Cakes, 10 Best Romantic Restaurants, etc. model.

(Tasha Treadwell/Sun photographer)

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 5:10 PM | | Comments (20)
        

Comments

Why are female crabs cheaper than male crabs?

Regularly I see a listing in the Most Recent Comments box for a long ago topic. How about a Top 10 Topics That Will Not Die?

RiE--I like it!

Great idea RiE!

Why are female crabs cheaper than male crabs?

Sounds like a question for Sotomayor.

ummm...fewer moving parts?

I prefer female crabs so I'm glad they're cheaper.

that really IS a good question, Lissa. If the females were all thrown back and only the males were harvested, then the crab harvest would be replenished much faster. I don't know how many "baby" crabs come from one female, but judging by the number of eggs I've seen in there it could be a lot!

So, using that logic, the females really ought to be much more expensive if harvested at all...

Do they taste differently? Do females sometimes have tasty roe? Do the males spend more time in the gym?

I guess it depends upon whether you prefer crab roe or crab penis.

The roe is a key ingredient in she-crab soup.

Why are female crabs cheaper than male crabs?

Because they drink less?

Zevonista, you obviously never went on a date with me in my young and wild days.

I was also interested to see that Recipe Finder published a chopped salad recipe inspired by the now-closed Maison Marconi's version. (We've talked about it here before.) I don't remember all those hard-boiled eggs in the original chopped salad, but that was a long time ago.
================

It was a long time for me as well, but I don't remember that many anchovies & wasn't there some blue cheese in it as well?

Lissa, female crabs are usually smaller on average (the largest males are almost always larger than the largest females) because they don't moult as often. Number 1's (the largest crabs) are always exclusively male.
Crabs only grow in size after moulting - and once female crabs become sexually mature, they moult less frequently than male crabs. Researchers are not sure exactly why, but they theorize that the females prefer to reserve the energy that it would take to moult for the generation of eggs. Plus gravid females don't moult at all during their gestation period(s), so that's another growth handicap.
On the other hand, crabs are at their lightest (emptiest) right after moulting, so the more infrequent the moult, the fuller/heavier the crab. After moulting, the old crab weighs the same, but is in a slightly larger shell. Since what should matter to an eater is not the size of the shell, but the amount of meat inside - females that go longer between moults are likely to be heavier and so _more_ rewarding to the diner.
I'm pretty sure it's illegal to take gravid females anywhere in the Bay (PA, MD, or VA), so it's not like you can get one carrying roe legally. It used to be legal in the Carolinas, but I'm not even sure about that anymore. Most modern Carolina she-crab soup recipes (which traditionally use the roe as a flavoring/coloring ingredient) now suggest using hard boiled chicken egg yolk as a substitute.
See the Pulitzer-winning "Beautiful Swimmers" by William Warner for anything more you'd want to know about blue crabs.

Plus, as a kid I always was told that the females are more difficult to clean. More work for the eater, in other words. We always bought whatever was cheaper, so it was never an issue for me, but some people are picky (no pun intended.)

EL, I have a Top 10 idea - Employers who offer free or low cost dining options.

Thank you, JeffS. That is exactly the kind of information I was looking for. I'll look for that book.

You're welcome, Lissa. I'll leave you with my favorite Baltimore/crab story.
1. The technical term for moulting is 'ecdysis'.
2. In the mid-30's, the well-known burlesque dancer Georgia Sothern wrote to Baltimorean and crab lover HL Mencken, asking him if he could come up with a more sophisticated label for her profession than 'strip-tease artist'.
3. He suggested 'ecdysiast', as in her performances she was 'one who molts'.
4. She embraced the term and used it in her publicity for quite some time thereafter. And several years later, in London, the first strippers' labor association was formed -- the Society of Ecdysiasts.
The only problem with knowing this story is that now whenever I order crabs, I inevitably think of strippers -- and vice-versa.

Well, I suppose crabs and other ecdysiasts could go together well.

At least there is a sense of humour about that, unlike things like "sanitation engineer" and "Multimedia Specialist."

JeffS wrote: now whenever I order crabs, I inevitably think of strippers -- and vice-versa.

And just how often do you order strippers?

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.
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