You’ll hate me for saying this but, “I like imitation crab meat.” Yep, the fake stuff. Painted red with food color, containing all types of minced fish, lots of additives, a smidgen of unnatural things, formed into a tube-shaped or flaky, edible mass . . . so sweet and tasty. Mmmmm. It’s great with pasta and salads; low calories, low fat and quite filling. What more could a person want?

Yeah, Marylanders are fuming while reading this. How could a Maryland boy like fake crab? That’s sacrilegious. You think farcical crab is peasant fish. A little-known historical fact was recently revealed in Crab History Revisionist’s Digest. Apparently, during the French Revolution one of the Palace Guards exclaimed to Marie Antoinette, “Your Majesty, the Peasants are revolting!” To which she retorted, “Yes, they are extremely revolting. So, what’s their problem?” The Guard filled her in, “The city is out of fresh crab meat and the people have no crab cakes.” The Queen proclaimed, “Let them eat fake cake.” This was the world’s introduction to imitation crab meat. Sacrebleu. In Maryland, when we’re born, they feed us crab meat and beer shooters right after the delivery to prepare us for future feasts. When our diapers are changed, we’re powdered with Old Bay. The very mention of imitation crab meat is like the cat crapped in your oatmeal.

The Maryland Crabasm Ritual takes place at hundreds of venues, thousands of times a year. Crabs cannot be priced beyond demand. Crab meat is awesome. I could eat it at every meal. Crab soup, crab cakes, crab balls, crab quiche, crab dip, crab, crab, crab. But picking the meat is downright tedious. They are really terrific, but a couple of things are troubling.

First of all, whichever establishment sells you ready-to-eat crabs, competes with all the other crabmongers for the right to be known as “Over-Seasoner of the Year.” Is it just me, or does the crunchy layer of seasoning indicate a bit of an overload? I’m not preparing to eat the shell, so the spice is kind of unnecessary and fighting through 11 inches of colon-cleansing crust is annoying. And I always end up using the seasoning as eye shadow.

Secondly, it seems like a never-ending fight to get to a slight morsel of meat when picking through the suckers. I know the argument of it being a social thing, where those gathered have a few suds, chatting with ground crab meat dribbling out of everyone’s mouth (and the small piece sitting on the side of their face that is driving you crazy, but you don’t have the heart to tell them), sweating and sniffling from the heat of the seasoning, eyes watering from spice contamination, slurring their words from the beer, while cutting their fingers incessantly. “Look at me, I got a big gob!” It’s a fun thing. It’s a feast. Then why do you leave hungry?

Give me a plastic bag filled with fake, chemical-laden, artificially sweetened, red-dyed, chunks of mystery fish anytime. I’ll walk away with clean fingers and clear eyes and my belly will be filled.

Oops, my fake cake just fell apart. Now, I’ll have to make soup.

With Love,

Bake My Fish

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