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Maryland "Style" Crabcakes - Not the real thing

Crab picking houseI recently toured a crab picking house on the eastern shore of VA where watermen drop off fresh catches of blue crabs. As I was waiting in the office several customers arrived with small coolers to collect crabmeat. It made me think of the crabcakes my mom and aunt used to make when I was kid. Fried or broiled, I loved them. Unfortunately, picking houses like these (and the crabcakes I ate as a kid) are declining in number, in part due to the import of crabmeat from outside the Chesapeake. Evidence of this can be seen at seafood restaurants around the region that have on their menu "Maryland Style" crabcakes. Be assured, the style has to do with how they are breaded and seasoned and not where the meat comes from. 

I am concerned that imported crabmeat, among other combining factors, is unfairly placing our local crab industry at risk. I am certain that we can "Save the Bay." However, I want to work towards saving our crabbing economy as well. It's an industry that produces signifcant revenue and jobs and should not be outsourced. So when I go to restaurants I ask the waiter, "What does it mean by Maryland-Style?" You'd be surprised how many servers have no idea where the meat comes from. I then try and order something locally caught, if available.

And the next time I go to the eastern shore I am taking a cooler and visiting that crabhouse. Then maybe I will invite my Mom over for dinner. Crabcakes will be on the menu.

Joe Lerch is a senior land planner in CBF's Virginia office.


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A. M. Foley

I'm glad someone's parsing this term. A product demonstrator serving sample Phillips "Maryland-Style" crabcakes in an Eastern Shore supermarket was shocked when a customer pointed out small print on the demo box with the country of origin.

Around Elliotts Island here in Dorchester Co., MD, waterman trotline, landing crabs caught kicking-fresh and hungry. If your Eastern Shore crabmeat tastes like menhaden ("L-Ys"), it's spent time caught in a crabpot. But if you can't learn where the meat was caught, you're not likely to learn how.


We will not buy any Phillips products or dine in their restaurants -- and we have not since we have found out that they import their crabmeat -- which to me is VERY wrong!


Philips is a sham. They should not be allowed to use the name Maryland in any of their products, they should be called Philips Taiwanese Crabhouse.

Bonni Jones

I remember my Aunt Cacky and Great Aunt Suzie sitting out in their crab picking shack when I was a little girl. They could zip through those crabs in no time at all and made the best cakes I ever tasted. Nowadays its hard to get crabcakes that authentic.

Mary Allen

As you are enjoying the palatable crabs served on your table, be aware that the imported crab meat, among other combining factors, is unfairly placing our local crab industry at risk.

mary anne

I love crabs... but crab cakes? wow! cant imagine how this will taste but im sure im going to love it.

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