Dock of the Bay

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Vol. 8, No. 22
June 1-7, 2000
     
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New from The Crabbiest Man on the Bay: Chesapeake Bay Crabbiest Cookbook

No matter how much you think you know about crabs, you’ll probably take a back seat to Whitey Schmidt, lately of Rosehaven and now Crisfield. That’s because what many dream of, Whitey did.
He moved to Chesapeake Country and got caught by a crab. That was 20 years ago.

Ever since, the affable, laid-back, platinum-haired and bearded Schmidt has made crabs his business. Consuming and chronicling crabs, he’s scoured every back road in Chesapeake Country, from where the Bay begins above Baltimore to down where it meets the ocean beyond Cape Charles. From Ocean City to the rising mountains, he’s been there.

“I love what I’m doing. I wouldn’t want to do anything else,” says Schmidt.

You might have called Whitey a crab bum, were it not for Marian Hartnett Press. Under the good influence of his mother, after whom the publishing house dedicated to his work is named, Whitey has mined his rich experience of crabs in book after book.

At the top of Whitey’s agenda was crab houses. The legendary fellow who never saw a crab house he didn’t stop at, Whitey ate — and drank — in 250 of them for his first book, published in 1985, The Official Chesapeake Bay Crab Eater’s Guide.

Next, for eaters who want plates under their food, came his Chesapeake Bay Dining Guide. By the time he reprised that guide — bringing the number of eateries up to 212 — in 1997, Whitey had eaten his way through 20,000 miles of Chesapeake Country.

Along the way, Whitey picked up more than a few — albeit a very few — pounds. When he liked a dish, he haunted its cook for a recipe. When he heard a story, he wrote it down. When he visited a place, he took notes. When he saw a crabby scene or sign, he snapped a picture.

He harvested that experience in a couple of cookbooks — The Crab Cookbook in 1990 and in 1994, The Flavor of Chesapeake Bay, this one richly illustrated with photos lent by Bay photographer Marion Warren — and in two travel guides to Chesapeake Country, one Bay Tripper for the Eastern Shore and a second for the Western.

His 10th book, planned to coincide with the millennium, would be his masterpiece. In it, he’d combine over 200 recipes — never before published but tested, some “many times” — with 225 photos collected in his two decades of travels. He’d spice it with tales and tips. He’d put it all between hardcovers beneath a glossy, full-color cover.

In this book, Whitey dreamed, he’d “capture the unique Chesapeake Bay crab culture in whimsical roadhouse signs, succulent crab dishes, seaside crabhouse buildings, crab tattoos and crabbers at work. Even Elvis Presley would make an appearance.”

It almost didn’t happen. As the century ended, 20 years of dedicated eating and drinking caught up with Whitey. In December, 1999, his heart failed. Repairing the damage required what he calls “four covered bridges” on a coronary artery.

“If they’d wanted me to cook in heaven, they’d have taken me in December. I guess they have a good crab cook right now,” reflects Schmidt.

The reformed millennial Whitey eats his crabs without beer.

“I don’t like it,” he says, “but I’ve passed the true test: sticking to iced tea when I’m sitting around with old friends who are drinking beer.”

He’s given up butter and — except in crab cakes — mayonnaise.

As you’ll see in his just-published The Chesapeake Bay Crabbiest Cookbook. Here are crabs fat and thin, in the shell, in soufflé, in bourride, in bread and in butter. Just about any way you can cook a crab is here and many, those of us about Whitey’s age are glad to see, are happily heart healthy.

Consider, for example, Brushwood Crab-Cantaloupe Salad, in which halved cantaloupes, brushed with lemon juice, are filled with crabmeat and red raspberries tossed in vanilla yogurt and topped with toasted pecans.

Just as satisfying as the recipes are the photos. Many are Whitey’s own, gathered over two decades of chasing crabs throughout Chesapeake Country. A few more are classics, borrowed from classic Bay photographers Marion Warren and Aubrey Bodine. A delectable full-color eight-page center section was shot by professional photographer Vince Lupo.

Twenty years, and that crab hasn’t let go yet. Reprieved, Schmidt says he still has three or four books left in him.

In addition to The Chesapeake Bay Crabbiest Cookbook (240 pages: $29.95), three more of Schmidt’s books are in print. Get The Crab Cookbook, The Flavor of Chesapeake Bay or Chesapeake Bay Waterside Dining Guide at your bookstore or from the author at 888/876-3767 • www.bluecrabguru.com.

—SOM


Don’t Get Lost on Chesapeake: Find Your Way with Maryland Cruising Guide

In this corner — measuring in at 11 by 16 inches, with crisp lettering, bold heading, wearing a plastic, water-repellent cover — is Maryland’s reigning champion of chart books: the 2000 Maryland Cruising Guide.

For nearly 40 years, this boater’s must-have has helped make life on the water safe and sound.
As the local favorite, Maryland Cruising Guide bobs and weaves through the world’s mightiest estuary at a scale of 1:80,000, providing fists full of essential nautical info.

But if Maryland Cruising Guide has historically delivered knockout editions, why do you need a new one?

Because the Bay, formidable force that it is, is forever changing.

Channel markers, buoys, depths and landmarks, colors, numbers, ports and shorelines are all susceptible to the changing powers of both man and nature.

For instance, many mid-Bay boaters have long relied on the towers at Greenbury Point as a landmark for the Annapolis area.

This year, most of the towers have been removed, leaving only three. Especially at night, the reduction could be disorienting.

On the natural side, depths around Smith and Deal islands rise and fall from constant shoaling, creating a ground-running hazard.

Maryland Cruising Guide keeps you up with both types of changes.

Keeping up is no pleasure cruise for 17-year-editor Mickey Courtney of Shady Side. He tackles most of this arduous task himself.

“A small change in a Bay navigational aid usually means changing two or three charts in the book,” said Courtney. That’s because many of the book’s 20 charts overlap.

Courtney also has to contend with the U.S. Coast Guard’s “Local Notice to Mariners” publication, which tracks changes in the nation’s waterways.

“Sometimes you find information in the Notices that doesn’t match with the chart readings, so you update the chart to match the notice,” said Courtney. Then may come a second, superseding Coast Guard notice requiring another chart change.

“I like to say the Coast Guard goes out there with a Global Positioning System, gets a position du jour and publishes it in here,” joked Courtney, waving the latest Local Notice.

What do these changes all mean for you?

Not knowing what awaits you on the Bay could cost you your vessel, or worse, your life. The last place you want to be surprised by navigational changes is on the water.

Maryland Cruising Guide can help prevent surprises. It’ll tell you where you are, where you’re going and what to do in case of an emergency.

But it can only keep you safe, dry and oriented if you know what’s inside it.

“Boaters need to learn how to use the guide before setting out into the water,” Courtney said, pointing to the “Using This Guide” instructions on page two. To get what’s inside the book inside your head, you’ll need to go beyond page two, practicing the principles on the chart of the part of the Bay you frequent. That’s not just once but before each trip.

“If you have a boat, you’re going to need charts,” warned Courtney.

Boating safety instructions, a list of assistance firms and good boating practices all appear in the guide’s user friendly pages.

Get your millennial copy of this nautical prizefighter at most marine supply stores or order by phone from Nautical Enterprises at 410/867-4152.

—Matt Pugh


From Soup to Sights, Serving Bay Bounty

Katie Moose would make a good name for a storybook. In fact, she’s an author in search of a good story. A lover of both cooking and history, she’s found a bounty to write about combing Chesapeake Country and other ports along the Atlantic coast.

When the Annapolitan discovered a guidebook had not been published about Maryland’s Capital city since 1984, she set out to set people straight with a guide that “not only presents a complete description of the town and its history, but side trips in the Western and Eastern shores as well.”
Moose says her Annapolis: The Guidebook 1999 is the “most detailed and only guidebook,” with “everything you ever wanted to know about Annapolis.”

That’s the way Katie Moose does things. Between her volunteer work and sponsoring Naval Academy midshipmen, she manages to publish a book a year, working on several at the same time. With books combining gourmet cooking, fine wines, history, sailing, genealogy, theology and travel, Moose might well be the Martha Stuart of Annapolis.

Chesapeake’s Bounty: Cooking with Regional Favorites is the latest work out of Moose’s own small publishing house, Conduit Press. A first printing of 1,000 copies was gone in three weeks.

An introduction of historical facts on Chesapeake Country makes a fitting appetizer for the regional bounty to follow. There is nothing so comforting in cooking as the familiar, which you’ll find in recipes stretching from crabs to coleslaw, including oysters frittered and scalloped. Others may not be so familiar — venison two ways, stewed and wined; peanut lace cookies; and plum pudding — but still use ingredients abundant in Maryland.

Moose calls recipes in Chesapeake Bounty “easy, but elegant.” Some were contributed by family members, some collected on the Eastern Shore by husband George, who owned two restaurants and who also took photos for the book and designed the cover with an enticing plate of raw oysters and a skipjack backdrop.

Sister Lili’s Beef Burgandy may not be spelled the way we’d spell the famous red wine, but you can’t argue with the simplicity.

Suggested menus — for New Year’s Eve spiked Fish House Punch, a cold winter’s night perked up with Ruthie’s Mexican Dip or an easy dinner party finishing up with Apple Brown Betty — may not make for earth-shattering culinary news. But they’re as likely to be favorites around your house as they are at Katie Moose’s. Besides, when you want to go “elegant” there’s always Lili’s Eggplant Caponata or Lady Baltimore Cake — baked right here in Maryland since the 1800s and noted for its sweet walnut filling.

Born in Baltimore, Moose says she lived “in many of the U.S.’s great culinary, architectural, historical and waterside gems,” including Annapolis. Currently, she’s working on a book about Maryland’s Western Shore, from Havre de Grace to St. Mary’s, and a cookbook about Nantucket, where she summers.

Find Katie Moose in print at local bookstores or by writing the author at 111 Conduit St., Annapolis • kamoose@erols.com.

—M.L. Faunce


Way Downstream …

In New Hampshire, the annual jumping frog contest in the town of Rye may proceed in the spirit of Mark Twain’s story, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.” Kids persuaded local officials, who had called it off, that they will be careful handling the contestants …

In Cincinnati, they’re taking an artistic cue from “Cows on Parade,” the statues that adorned Chicago last year. But instead of cows, it will be “The Big Pig Gig.” And rumor has it that Washington state plans to erect statues of eight-foot long fish in the Pacific Northwest. They’d call it “Soul Salmon”…

Idaho may be sending a land-wrecker to Congress. His name is ‘Butch’ Otter, he’s the lieutenant governor who won the GOP primary last week, and he’s been fined $80,000 for illegally and repeatedly excavating wetlands on his property. Otter insists that since they’re his wetlands, he can destroy them …

Our Creature Feature this week comes from Canada, where a new corps of border guards aren’t the Royal Mounted Police. They’re 600 chickens, who will live in cages this summer along the 1,550-mile border and act as “sentinels” to provide an early warning system against West Nile virus, the mosquito-borne virus that killed seven people in New York last year.


Copyright 2000
Bay Weekly