Summer Crabs, A Delmarva Tradition

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crabsEven before opening Meding’s Seafood in 1983, the Meding family has been searching the country for the perfect crab. During the summer they stay close to their phones as crab fishermen call in to report how the season is going. For many natives and visitors to Delmarva, hard shell crabs are a staple to the summer diet. With crabs sold by size, quantity and quality, buying crabs can be a confusing venture if you do not know what you are looking for.

“Over the years I have learned to get a variety of crabs from Texas, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland and Delaware,” said Rob Meding, owner of Meding’s Seafood.”We are looking for fat, full crabs, fresh caught and handled property.”

Just as important as size and weight of the crab, Meding states that how the crab is treated during capture, shipping and at market makes a difference in how it tastes. He recommends buying crabs from fishermen who use pots in deeper water or trotlines. This process makes sure that crabs are not sitting in the sun or shallow water in the pots which can cause too much stress on the creatures before they reach market.

Medings makes it their responsibility during the summer to partner with crab fishermen that have the same philosophy when it comes to catching crabs. For the consumer, Meding says that taste, seasoning, size and atmosphere are all part of an educated decision when deciding where to buy crabs for the family. They sell by the crab, dozen, half and full bushel, live or cooked, dine in or take out.

Crabs range in size from small, around 5 1/2 inches across, to jumbo or colossal, larger than 7 inches, with sizes medium and large between the extremes. Crab are typicaly listed as No. 1, 2 and 3. No. 1 crabs are defined as the largest, heaviest males, No. 2s are smaller males and lighter crabs and No. 3s are the smallest crabs, including females.

Maybe most important when deciding where to eat crabs, is the atmosphere and company at the table when the hot crabs are placed on the table. Meding himself recommends eating crabs with friends, family and live music. He also recommends that to make the crabs last longer, people should not forget to enjoy their crabs with other sides such as fries, fried clams, steamed shrimp and vegetables.

“Eating crabs is an event, like going out to a ballgame,” said Meding. “It is an entire experience that you should enjoy with friends and family.”

Even just eating hard shell crabs can be a mystery to rookies at the table but Meding states that his staff and he are available to show individuals how to get the most meat out of their crabs. Crabs are now in their highest demand for the year as personal and commercial crab fishermen are out on the water every day. Residents and visitors of Delaware alike should not miss the opportunity to enjoy an evening that has served as a yearly tradition in many Delmarva households.