Memorial Day weekend offers chance to shake up summer crab recipes

‘People are ready for some crabs’: Summer season kicks off

For lots of Washingtonians, summer begins on Memorial Day, and that calls for a bushel of steamed crabs piled high at backyard gatherings with family and friends.

The Thursday before Memorial Day, customers were already making trips to D.C.’s Wharf to select their blue crabs from Jessie Taylor Seafood.

“It’s the time of year — people are ready for some crabs,” Stan Kiser, a manager at Jessie Taylor, told WTOP.

If customers want a crab with lots of meat, they’ll opt for the male crabs, which are easily identified by the “Washington Monument” outline on their apron — the white underside of the crab.

By contrast, the females have an outline that looks very much like the U.S. Capitol. Flipping one over to show the difference, Kiser said, “Crazy how that worked out, isn’t it?”

“We always ate males (growing up). We never did eat females,” Kiser said.

The difference will show up in price too.

“Right now, a holiday weekend, the extra-large males, they’re $104 for a dozen. The extra-large females are $79,” Kaiser said. “So, it’s quite a bit of difference.”

Asked how customers like their crabs, he said steamed crabs are the norm.

“They definitely want spice on them,” he said. “We use a company out of Baltimore, J.O. Spice. We’ve been dealing with them for years. They make a special blend just for us.”

One customer, who identified himself only as Polo, told WTOP: “You gotta get them steamed, with a little bit of spice.”

Asked what he likes to drink alongside a pile of steamed crabs, Polo said just about anything he’s got on hand in the house. And perhaps harking back to childhood memories, he said, “There used to be some good Kool-Aid,” on the table. Asked what flavor, he thought for a moment, and said, “Oh, you gotta go for the blue one!”

One woman stood considering her options at the counter where piles of crabs for sale skittered over one another. Elon Kamara, from Delaware, said she enjoys crabs and the process of picking them in the summer, but when asked for the best way to prepare them, she said, “I have no idea! I guess to boil them in a crab boil?”

But like Kiser said, the spice is critical as well.

“I like my crabs pretty seasoned, shall I say.”

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Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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