Well, lots of things experts say. Everything from how the crab meat is prepared–the blue crabs in Maryland are typically steamed, not boiled–down to the diet that makes this beautiful swimming crustacean with bright silvery blue claws and an olive green shell the most recognizable species in the Chesapeake Bay.
Experts say, it is the brackish waters of the Chesapeake Bay that make the crabs not only colorful but delicate and sweet. Here they feed on razor clams and soft shell clams, and the icy cold temperatures in the fall lull the crabs into a kind of hibernation, where they store up all of that delicious fat.
The typical blue crab seasons starts around May and runs through September, and fish markets across the eastern seaboard often clamor to get their hands on genuine blue crab once the season starts as mislabeling is rampant.
But according to one Washington Post food writer, the fall-season blue crabs are considered some of the best Maryland has to offer.
Looking for a summer road trip? The Daily Meal offers a best-of list for Maryland crab houses with atmospheres that run the gamut from beachfront elegance to a rowdy, rollicking good time. As diverse as the Chesapeake seafare.
Scott MacKerron, who grew up in Maryland, offers a few suggestions here for how to dig into your first crab, if you’ve never had one.
And in all seriousness, what’s not to love about a meal that makes it socially acceptable to wear a bib and get down and dirty with your food?