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Soft Shell Crab state sandwich bill is another Eastern Shore power grab

January 02, 2013|By TIM ROWLAND | timr@herald-mail.com

If you weren’t excited about the upcoming session of the Maryland General Assembly you will be now:

One of the bills to be filed would designate “Soft Shell Crab” as the official Maryland state sandwich.

According to the Washington Post, Sen. Richard F. Colburn, R-Old Bay, believes that awarding official status to “a Maryland delicacy” will boost restaurant business and help troubled watermen.

Maybe it will, although I have never eaten a Baltimore Oriole specifically because it is the Maryland State Bird.

Colburn says, with some legitimacy, that we might as well have a Maryland State Sandwich, because “we’ve got a Maryland everything else.”

You have to admit he has a point. Along with the traditional state tree, state flower and state bird, we also have a state exercise (walking), state dessert (Smith Island cake), state reptile (terrapin) and state dinosaur (astrodon johnstoni, for some reason).

I’m a little reluctant to ridicule this proposal, because the last time I did — when the General Assembly took decisive action to designate “calico” as the State Cat — it turned out the effort was initiated by a class of second-grade school children out in Garrett County, or someplace. After my screed they all became disillusioned with the system and grew up to be corporate lobbyists.

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Nor, I have learned, do you try to get in the way of any sundry group of people who are determined to have their particular pet pursuit denied a piece of Maryland glory.

Back in the ’90s — true story — a group of duckpin bowlers marched on the state capital and tried to wrest the mantle of State Sport from jousting. This unleashed a white-hot rage from Maryland’s jousters — there being more of them than you would think.

They all testified seriously before legislative committees, citing actual statistics and sporting relevance to Maryland, and they all showed up in their native garb so that for about a week Annapolis looked like a cross between the Honeymooners and the Chronicles of Froissart.

I would, however, take some issue with designating soft-shell crab as the state sandwich for two reasons:

One, the blue crab is already represented by being the state crustacean. And second, I don’t like soft-shell crabs.

They remind me of the Monty Python skit about the unconventional candy maker who sells a confection called “Crunchy Frog.” After determining the chocolate does contain an actual frog, the incredulous health inspector asks, “Don’t you even take the bones out?” and the candy maker replies, “If we took the bones out it wouldn’t be crunchy, would it?”

Because soft shell really isn’t soft and that kind of oogs me out, it’s like eating the tip of a chicken wing. I know I’m sounding like a true Western Marylander here — if it’s not mushy, I don’t want to expend the effort it would take to chew — but I can’t help it.

The other problem is that Maryland is once again demonstrating its Eastern bias with this officially blessed menagerie. Crab, soft shell crab, rockfish, Smith Island cake, terrapin (state reptile) and bay retriever (state dog).

Where is our sorry, do-nothing Western Maryland delegation through all this? Are they just sitting around passing meaningful legislation while the rest of the state is off commandeering the Maryland State Gem (Patuxent River stone)?

I say it’s time to take back our state. I spit on your soft shell crab! I want to see Western Maryland represented! Make the steamer the state sandwich. Or the Onion and Mayonnaise With Some Heavily Processed Purple Meat That You Can’t Quite Put Your Finger On Sub.

Hey, I want to feel as if I’m at least getting something for my taxes.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 6997, or via email at timr@herald-mail.com.


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