One of the first places I got to see in Washington DC during my visit last year was the Wharf on Maine. I’d left all my gear back at the apartment I was staying in, because I was helping my friend run a few errands before the 4th of July fireworks and wasn’t expecting to do any sightseeing, but when we whipped round into the waterfront fish market, I was kicking myself for not bringing my camera. Instead, I nabbed my friend’s camera phone and snapped a few shots of this fascinating place.
The market was teeming with people buying last minute goodies for their Independence Day barbeques, and the air was distinctly pungent. The Maine Avenue Fish Market, commonly referred to as ‘The Wharf’, is over 200 years old and one of the few extant open-air seafood markets on the eastern seaboard. It feels like a carnival and is a foodie destination extraordinaire. I don’t know how many tourists make it out this way, but it’s not far from the Waterfront Metro station and is definitely worth a visit.
There were stacks of shells piled high, fish neatly arranged over shaved ice and some of the largest shrimp I have ever seen.
But what I found truly eye-catching were the Maryland Blue Crabs. There were piles of them for sale, steamed and ready to snack on, and live ones in baskets which people would wheel around the corner and get them freshly steamed. Staring at the baskets, which were basking in the 105 degree sunshine, I had to fight the urge to open the lids and give the crabs a chance to dash for the water.
My friend also gave me a DC education in blue crab gender recognition. She showed me the underside of the crabs and explained that the ones that resembled the Capitol building were female, and the ones that resembled the Washington Monument were male.
You live and learn!