I can’t recall the specific moment in my life where I discovered this amalgam of spices, but I’m pretty certain it was my father who made the introduction. Since that imperceptible moment in my childhood, Old Bay has been a flavor central to my love and perception of Baltimore and the taste of home. Every time I have moved somewhere far away, Old Bay has been a co-pilot. Everywhere I have traveled for any length of time, Old Bay has been a friendly companion. During my sojourn in Sweden, Old Bay was a quiet comfort– a taste of home in what sometimes felt like a surreal, parallel universe. It is an element that helps me define home regardless of language, culture or postal code.
To see this unusual flavor highlighted in a national newspaper is, if nothing else, a novel boost. I’ve been back in Baltimore a few short weeks after many, many years away; seeing a hometown favorite is terribly reassuring– a confirmation that, yes, I belong here. Jane Black’s article in the Post does an excellent job of outlining the history of the spice and its cult status among some of the locals of the Mid-Atlantic. I will admit to my membership in the brotherhood of the Bay, just don’t expect me to share our secret handshake.
How about you, dear readers? Are you Old Bay aficionados? Or is it a flavor you’ve not yet sampled? What condiment, spice or flavor do you use in a cultish or obsessive way?
Image: The Perfect Pantry