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Each with its own culinary tradition


American chestnuts live (!) on Maryland Eastern Shore

The American chestnut, once king of the Eastern forest, was pretty much obliterated by a lethal fungus in the 1950s. A few stragglers made it through, but nearly 4 billion trees were killed. This fall, I found two survivors on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. I have expressed my appreciation by spending two weekends, tearing up my …

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The shaved-ice man brought endless summer

  Every summer of my childhood, the same ritual repeated itself. Scott Styer, the local shaved-ice man, would turn his truck down the sloping drive of my neighborhood pool in Potomac, Md., and switch on “The Banana Boat Song” over the loudspeaker mounted to the roof rack of his Toyota truck. Scott ran a seasonal …

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Stillwater Gose and Md. crab soup a trip to the shore

I have always been attracted to in-between things — amorphous, ambiguous areas where no single identity dominates. That’s how I see Maryland. Somewhat Southern, somewhat Northern, the state’s 12,407 square miles mash up historic urban centers, quaint college towns, winding country roads and bucolic shoreline. And that’s how I also see Maryland’s brewing culture. It …

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Rhubarb and soft-shell crabs bookend the seasons

This week we said goodbye to spring and hello to summer at the dinner table. Our first soft-shell crabs of the season (summer) were followed by a rhubarb upside down cake (spring) for dessert. Rhubarb is considered a niche item as far south as Washington, D.C. It grows fine until the heat sets in but …

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The Kitchen Sink: Coddies redux

On Jan. 1, we posted a video, recipe and short story about Baltimore coddies. In the 10 months since, we’ve gotten about one comment a week on the deep-fried balls of codfish and potato that were sold in every corner store in Baltimore through the 1960s. They were served between two saltine crackers with a dab …

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Stalking the wild persimmon

I was walking through the woods on Maryland’s Eastern Shore when I stepped on something squishy and slippery. The bottom of my shoe was covered in orange pulp and the ground was littered with what looked like tiny apricots. They were persimmons – native American Diospyros virginiana – now my favorite wild fruit. The little …

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Cioppino, pit beef square off at Super Bowl dinner

In each calendar year, I give myself a few days to eat with wanton disregard for my personal health. Thanksgiving is one of those days. The day we take the kids to the state fair is another. But, my favorite day of pure gluttony is Super Bowl Sunday. In what has become a tradition in …

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The little Berger cookie that could

  Ellen McKay had just enough time for a Berger cookie run before getting her son, Will, to his plane. He was headed back to college in California after a visit with family in Baltimore, Md. She got three extra boxes to freeze for a future care package. Will grew up in Connecticut, but his …

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Baltimore brothers remember coddies

  Full disclosure. Michael Levy, co-star of the coddie video, is my husband. I have been listening to him and his brother, Stevan, talk about coddies for several decades. It sounded too strange to be true, but I’ve found independent verification. On their way home from elementary school in downtown Baltimore in the 1960s, they …

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