Anyone that knows me knows that I like to eat. So, I was pretty excited to come to the JMM and learn that there was going to be a food exhibit opening in September. The museum is collecting food stories as part of the exhibit. That got me to thinking about food and my experiences with food here in Baltimore.
When I moved to Baltimore for the summer, I was excited to try the new food around me. Everyone whom I told I was going to Baltimore for the summer said, “you have to get a crab cake.” Challenge accepted! The second day I was here, I went to eat with my mom and I had my very first Baltimore Crab Cake. It was quite good! Now that I had that covered, I was ready to take on the rest of Baltimore’s food choices. Working at the JMM there are several delis near by. Ryan and I decided to check out Attman’s during our second week. What an experience. The line, the long counter, the staff yelling your order, it was great. I also started to talk to the lady behind me and she told me about Attman’s and her childhood. She remembers the people outside Attman’s selling chickens and slaughtering them for you. She also told me that I should get the hot dog and the corn beef. She said, “You eat the hog dog first, so your stomach is prepared for the corn beef sandwich. But its bad for you, so only get it once a week!” Truer word of wisdom I have never heard. I did not get the hot dog, but I did get the corn beef Ruben. It was delicious!
Working at the JMM I spend a great deal of time working on food related projects. One of these is the JMM Brews and Schmooze First Thursday programs. We had been talking about the December program, which will feature the amazing Esther cooking her famous Latkes. That day we listened to Candlelight by the Maccabeats in the West Wing several times. After work, I went to Giant to get some groceries. I passed by some latkes mix. Well I had to try it, I still had “throw my Latkes in the air sometimes.” stuck in my head. I went home and made the mix. They turned out pretty good. The next day I told the West Wing and a few others at lunch that I had made latkes last night out of a box. They looked at me as if I had just made the biggest faux pas in the world. It was funny. I was told that was no way to eat latkes and that I had to make them from scratch. The things you learn during an internship: one is never touch anything with white gloves and the other is never make latkes out of a box.
Old Bay is something that I was not that familiar with. I live in a landlocked state so we don’t have the need to put Old Bay on everything. Upon hearing that I had never had Old Bay, Ryan about died. I was informed that in order to have the true Baltimore experience I was going to have to get some Old Bay. This got me to thinking about the empty space that we had in the August Brews and Schmooze calendar. It was then that Oy Bay was created! This was going to be a program that showcased that favorite spice that Baltimoreans put on everything. I never thought I would work this hard on researching a spice. But it has been interesting. The story of Old Bays creation to why people put seasoning on crabs was something that was very cool to learn about. I am excited to put on this program!
To end with I wanted to say a little bit about food and my family. Food and family are a big concept in the Chosen Food exhibit. After reading some of the stories from the exhibit about food, memories it made me think about my own memories. I have just acquired some new food memories in Baltimore, which I am looking forward to telling my family about, but I wondered about all the memories with my family and friends. Being a southerner food is a big part of my life. We eat a lot. Growing up holidays was always a time for gathering around my grandmother’s table and sitting down to eat. Its funny how something that is so repetitive like eating at a family members house every holiday can bring back some of the best memories, some that you have to think about to really remember the details. My favorite food memory is the time my Beagle, Digger, ate the blackberry cobbler. I was about ten and I came in from watching the Fourth of July fireworks outside to see Digger with his head in the blackberry cobbler (it was in the middle of the dinning room table, I might add). The memory of that goofy dog and the laughing adults will always be with me. No one was mad at the loss of a good dessert, but rather enjoyed the picture of Digger covered in cobbler. You will always remember where you were the day something big happens. But I believe that it will be the conversations, hugs, and good ole Chess Pie that I will remember the most. Food is something that transcends borders and nationalities.
A blog post by summer intern Morgan Byrn.