Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of three posts from Lexi, our summer intern here in the Alumni Communications office, about her experiences as a new-to-Baltimore student.
Even though everyone on the East Coast eats relatively the same things – meat, seafood, corn, potatoes – there are two foods that are incredibly underestimated by those not from the Delmarva and Pennsylvania area: Old Bay and scrapple.
I grew up with Old Bay as a seasoning for anything and everything crab. Crab bisque, steamed crabs, crab cakes, even on some sushi that had crab in it. You could say I liked it. I didn’t have an obsession with it, but I thought it tasted good on crab dishes. Then I came to Maryland, land of crabs and Old Bay. I soon found Old Bay on my potato chips, in my burgers, and on my french fries. I didn’t complain; I thought, Maybe this was just a Baltimore thing. They gotta live up to the “Crab Capital of the World” standard. Sure, it’s good, but I didn’t see the need to put Old Bay on every meal I ate. Until one day, not too long ago, I was feeling creative, and put Old Bay in my mac ‘n cheese.
Holy crab, I have never been more pleased with my cooking. It was salty, yet refreshing. Spicy, yet savory. The cheese and Old Bay mixed perfectly. I’ve been missing THIS? I thought to myself. I finally understood. It was amazing, and after that fateful dinner, I never looked back. I keep a small shaker of Old Bay in my purse now for special occasions. Don’t judge me, I’m sure some of you do it, too.
But there was a small curve ball to some of my more foreign friends: scrapple.
One of my roommates is from Massachusetts. They have similar seafood, meat, and vegetables to us here in the mid-atlantic, but she had never heard of scrapple. I take it some of those reading this won’t know what it is, either. Well I’m not going to tell you, and I would suggest you don’t ask. Scrapple is meat, and that’s all you need to know.
For Easter during my sophomore year, my roommate came home with me to Delaware soshe didn’t have to stay at school for the holiday. My mom is an excellent cook, which no one who has eaten anything she’s ever made can deny. So when she put down a plate of scrapple in front of us for breakfast, in all its square, brown, squishy, burnt-looking glory, my Bostonian roommate was very skeptical. She poked it, picked one up, and put it on her plate. I did the same, but took three slices. I love scrapple. She asked what it was after dissecting it. I just smirked. I tried to tell her gently that it tastes really good, but if you know what’s in it, you won’t want it.
I think she had decided she didn’t like scrapple before she even tried. The instant it touched her tongue, her face turned green and she spit it back out onto her plate. I’ll admit, depending on how it’s cooked, scrapple can have a pretty weird texture to it. But put a little dab of syrup or a dollop of ketchup on it, and that’s one of the best breakfast sides you can make. Heck, even a scrapple sandwich is good (a specialty of the Delaware State Fair).
When we got back to school, I was still a little shocked my roommate had never heard of scrapple before. So, I asked around. Turns out, scrapple is very much a Delaware and Pennsylvania thing, and isn’t common in Maryland. A lot of people are missing out on this loosely-dubbed delicacy.
In one short year, my food world had been nearly turned upside-down. Old Bay goes with anything, not just crab-related foods. Scrapple is either considered gross and disgusting or simply isn’t offered. In a few short months, my culinary mind had been fried. I bet if someone put Old Bay on scrapple, more people in Maryland would eat it.