Bushels of Fun

You can't really enjoy Maryland without knowing how to pick a crab.

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You can't go to Maryland without enjoying the Blue crab. If it's your first time, you may feel overwhelmed by the picking process, but don't wimp out and go with everyday fare like burgers! Follow these simple steps and you'll soon be enjoying your bushel like a local.

This is a messy business but nothing good is ever easy. Spread some newspaper or cut open brown paper grocery bags to cover your tabletop. Have a big bowl, a pot, or a trashcan nearby for the shells. A wooden mallet and a steak knife are essential and you'll probably want some icy cold beer to make your work worthwhile.

Break off the big claws set and aside. Remove the hind legs with a twisting motion. If there's some small meat there, enjoy.

Pull off the other legs, crack them, and eat the meat there.

Turn the crab over, insert the tip of the knife in the part of the shell that looks like a tab, pulling it up and back to detach the top shell.

Flip the crab back over and remove the top shell.

Take out the gills and yellow parts and anything else that looks spongy or icky.

The remaining crab is ready to eat. Pick it up, snap it in half, and dig in, using your knife to get at the parts that are hiding. It takes some effort, but the small bits you get from the body of the crab are considered the sweetest part.

Now it's time for those satisfying claws. Put the sharp edge of the knife in the middle of one of the claw's two meaty sections. Gently tap the dull side of the knife with the mallet until the shell breaks. Peel the exposed meat off with your fingers-or go ahead and use your teeth. It's a socially-acceptable part of enjoying Maryland Blue Crab.

To really master the picking process, though, you'll need to develop the right laidback mindset. Patience is a must, and good friends to share the beer and conversation. And when it's all over, simply roll up the paper and throw all that mess out. Delicious!