120th St. & Coastal Hwy
1911 Coastal Hwy.
Ocean City, Maryland 21842
June 22, 2012
The drive to the beach turned out to be long – 4 hours – and through crazy downpours. As I got to Ocean City, I kept having an internal debate: Should I get crabs? I found myself then debating whether I should try Rippons? Years ago, the crabs there didn’t agree with me. But my gut told me to try again.
Before I realized it, I had driven to Rippons, a stand-alone brick building on 120th Street bayside, next to the Ocean City Square Shopping Center. It’s been there since 1985.
The friendly guy behind the counter spelled out the options for me and recommended the local crabs, calling them “decent.” The choice would be $25 a dozen for mediums (5- to 5 ½ inches), $35 a dozen for medium-large (5 ½- to 6-inch) or $60 a dozen for large (6- to 6 ½-inch). The medium-larges, he told me, would be full, but the selling point – the fact the crabs came out of Chesapeake Bay waters, some from Crisfield and some from near Hooper’s Island – sold me. OK, I also wasn’t willing to shell out (pun intended) $60 for North Carolina crabs.
I managed to get to Rippons just before the early Friday dinner crowd, and as I waited, the popularity of the place became obvious. At least a half dozen people ordered as I waited for my crabs. One regular who came for shrimp joked that he wanted to sit in front of the fresh seafood counter so he could “drool on the food.”
I must admit the fresh seafood, Maryland-packed Wind Mizz crab meat and homemade crab soup looked tempting. Everything looked tempting. I was hungry. Rather than add more food to my order, I did kick in an extra $6.99 for a 1-pound container of seasoning. The counter worker told me seasoning was the same type used to steam the crabs, a mix of the commercial brand JO2 and other spices Rippons used.
The heavy bag of crabs I was handed told me I’d made a good choice. I cracked it open the bag in the car and let the steam rise up, fogging up my glasses as my finger swiped a taste of the seasoning.
With the Coastal Fisherman newspaper laid out on the table, I poured out the crabs. I picked out one of the bigger crabs, a completely full one. I let my tongue enjoy the first claw, holding it in my mouth to really taste it. My reaction: I hope the rest taste as sweet. My mouth was on fire, and I couldn’t stop licking my fingers. For me, that’s always a good sign.
A quick count revealed I received 13 crabs. The crabs all met the minimum size requirement. A couple actually measured 6 ½ inches. Some were right on the verge of being the next size, and I’d call three light. With it being early in the season, I couldn’t argue with a few being light. But two, sadly, qualified as mushy, a bit overcooked.
As I worked my way through the baker’s dozen, another internal debate started, only this time it was the good wife/bad wife dilemma. Should I eat all of them? Should I save the biggest of them for my husband? The answer: The good wife saved him three. The bad wife just couldn’t hold out. She ate the biggest one.