30 November 2008

Heresy Of The Crab Cake

The scent of nonbelief is in the air, brothers and sisters, oh yes it is. I can feel it. What’s more I have SEEN it. I have proof that there are those who have strayed from the PATH OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, yes sir, TESTIMONY out there. I bring it to you now, avert your eyes if ye not have the stomach for it. Look here:

Yes, yes, I know. You weep do you not? “Brother Gumbo, how could this be? How could they carry such nonsense in their hearts?” The Big (Wo)Man upstairs does indeed work in mysterious ways. (S)He tests us, I know, in ways subtle and grand.

Now, I know there are those of you out there who are wondering what is all the fuss? You ask me “Brother Gumbo, why do you bang your head on the ground, why do you weep and gnash your teeth? Why are your eyes sore? And for God’s sake man, stop scratching your junk!” Sorry, my friends. Let me compose myself. Let me try and explain. Take another look at the picture. Go on, look. Read it real careful now. I’ll wait.

(whistling The Battle Hymn of The Republic)

Finished? Still not sure? This is crab cake recipe offered by a reputable Midwestern company whose holiday catalog I recently received. Part of the annual deluge of catalogs I get every year. I won’t say the name because 1) they offer some tasty looking sausages and bacon I would like to try and 2) I don’t want to get sued. So it’s crab cakes, big deal.

These crab cakes contain champagne. Champagne. I’ll give you a moment to let that sink in.

For anyone who isn’t from Maryland or at least the Mid-Atlantic east coast, this may not seem a reason to howl and track down the perps of such a travesty, sorry, have a polite discussion with the creators of said recipe. For those of us who are citizens of the Free State and its neighbors, this is tantamount to HERESY. Pagans, infidels! Feel the wrath!

Sorry, let me take a breath. Crab cakes, to be sure, are best and proper when made simply. A good crab cake doesn’t need or want a lot of frills. Even the bell pepper and such is a bit suspect. What you need is good lump crab, some (but not too much) bread crumbs or crushed Saltines, a little mayo or beaten egg for binding, salt and pepper. There are a few other additions allowed (like Worcestershire sauce or dry mustard), but even those will get you into an argument with folks here in Baltimore and over on the Eastern Shore.

I’m a transplanted Virginian, so I may be a little outside the fold, but even a convert like me knows this: Champagne does not belong in a crab cake. Not if you want to sleep well at night. An ingredient like that misses the point: make crab cakes about the CRAB. I know the folks who thought this up meant well. I don’t hold that against them; it is pretty obvious they did not grow up with crabs and crab cakes. I’m am willing to bet they could teach us Easterners quite a few things about the fine art of making bratwursts (you wouldn’t put Champagne in those, would you?). I will even go so far as to say that this crab-Champagne thing might taste pretty good. Just don’t call it a crab cake. Around here, that sort of thing could get you beat up, or at least garner some dirty looks.

As for me, I’ll stick to the real thing. Champagne is good, but it belongs in a glass.



  1. I love crab cakes. But I've never had the pleasure of having one made from someone who knows what they're doing. Sigh....

  2. How do I confess that the only crab cakes I've ever had have contained imitation crab meat?

    I feel a New Year's resolution/mandate coming on...


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...