This year's Super Bowl pits Baltimore's Ravens against San Francisco's 49ers, which means two of the country's most prolific sources of crab are set to clash in New Orleans, which is one of the world's best seafood towns.
It's a battle of the bays on the bayou.
We can't control who will win, but we can control what we eat while we watch. I always like to draw inspiration from the cities represented.
Baltimore and San Francisco share a love affair with crab, but that's where the culinary common ground halts.
San Francisco boasts one of the country's most diverse and enlightened cultures and a history of producing beautiful Dungeness crab. Baltimore is a blue-collar town with a blue-collar history, in the kingdom of blue crab.
The teams share equally contrasting histories. The 49ers are among the National Football League's most-celebrated franchises with five Super Bowl titles and a list of Hall of Famers such as Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Ronnie Lott, Steve Young and head coach Bill Walsh. The Ravens didn't exist until 1996 when the Browns were whisked away from Cleveland by owner Art Modell and named after a famous poem by Edgar Allan Poe, who is buried in Baltimore. The Ravens did win a Super Bowl in 2000.
If you're planning a watch party for this Sunday's fixture, do it with a crab theme. Set up a Baltimore table and a San Francisco table, with dishes representing both cities — but make sure crab is the centerpiece of each. And since the host city for the game is New Orleans, feel free to interject some Cajun and/or Creole flavors.
One striking similarity between the combatants is between the coaches, who are both named Harbaugh. That's right, the teams are coached by brothers: San Francisco's Jim Harbaugh and Baltimore's John Harbaugh. Their folks live in Wisconsin, so you might add a little cheese to the table for their excellence in parenting.
On the San Francisco side, I recommend Crab Louie sandwiches; on the Baltimore side classic Maryland crabcakes.
Any crab will do for the Louie, but Dungeness is preferred as it is the crab native to San Francisco. For Maryland crabcakes, Chesapeake Bay blue crab is preferred. But if you can't find it, only true Marylanders will be able to tell — and they'll all be too nervous to notice.