Baltimore Orioles: Feast Week
Admittedly, Thanksgiving week is one of my favorite times of the year – mainly because Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I can’t really put my finger on why it’s my favorite holiday, but it just is. I suspect it’s due to the fact that it’s truly the great American holiday in the sense that it brings together people of all cultural backgrounds, religions, etc. Perhaps it’s strange for a man who loves spring and summer so much to consider an autumn holiday his favorite, but I digress.
Thanksgiving week is also called “Feast Week” by ESPN and others, due to the flurry of college basketball games on across the country. I’m a huge fan of tournaments such as the Maui Invitational, because there are literally games on all day. But again, I digress. With this being Feast Week, it’s also a reminder of the fact that baseball (and Baltimore Orioles baseball at that) is a sports known by it’s food as much as anything else.
Of course you have the traditional hot dogs, pizza, burgers, etc. at all ballparks. But what are some staples at Oriole Park at Camden Yards that you can’t find elsewhere? Anything crab-related for sure. (I’m told that Washington also sells crab cakes, but let’s be real – it’s a Baltimore thing.) Camden Yards also has several Pollock Johnny’s locations throughout the park, which of course is a Baltimore favorite. Going back to the point about crabs, not only do they sell crab cakes, but also crabby fries, nachos, pretzels, and a few other things I’m probably missing.
The Baltimore area of course is also the home of quite a few different brews, and thus Camden Yards is the only park in the league where you can buy National Bohemian. For me personally, that’s a beer that’s fairly iconic in the sense that my parents drank it – I used to open up the fridge as a kid and see Mr. Boh looking right back at me! However the Heavy Seas beers are also local to Baltimore, and of course Flying Dog is made in Frederick, MD. Both are sold at various stands throughout Camden Yards.
Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
One thing I’ve noticed in several parks across the league is that there’s more of an emphasis on local foods and drinks. (Every park has Bud/Miller/Coors, but where else can you find Natty Boh?!) Personally I think that’s a great thing; I firmly believe that every city and area has added something to our national culture, and culinary aspects of those places should be on display in those home ballparks. If you go down the pike to Washington you’ll find Hard Time’s Chili and Ben’s Chili Bowl. (And if I can make a recommendation…try the nachos at Hard Times – pretty unbelievable!) Cleveland has beer on tap from the Great Lakes Brewing Company, Boston has clam chowder, Texas and Kansas City have BBQ, etc.
As I said, baseball is identified by it’s foods and beverages as much as anything else. Atlanta is probably the only ballpark in which you can go where one could literally say that Coke is a local thing. The same is true with Denver and Coors. Milwaukee can say the same with Miller, along with some pretty amazing local bratwursts. And of course St. Louis with Budweiser.
Nevertheless, baseball is so identified with it’s food that baseball-fare has trickled down to the other sports. What do most people do before football games?…at most tailgates we see hot dogs out on the grill. And hot dogs were originally identified with baseball and the Fourth of July (which as much about baseball as Thanksgiving is about football). I would submit that at sporting events across the country, there’s no more purchased item tham a hot dog. That’s due to baseball.
Incidentally, I think that Maryland overall does a great job in terms of keeping local foods and brands at their sporting events. The Ravens also have a great array of crab-oriented items, and both the O’s and Ravens serve exclusively Esskay hot dogs. If you head down to Byrd Stadium or the newly renamed Xfinity Center at the University of Maryland, you’ll see Ledo Pizza locations throughout both venues. If you want food and beverages that say MARYLAND, look no further than crab cakes, Esskay hot dogs, Ledo Pizza, and National Bohemian beer!