What are the five best Baltimore food experiences?

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As the largest independent city in the country and biggest cultural hub in Maryland, you have to expect that Baltimore offers some great food experiences. In fact, Charm City offers some of the most unique cuisine you’ll ever encounter. Here’s our list of the five best Baltimore food experiences:

1. Lexington Market. Sprawled over two blocks, this centuries-old roofed market has more than 150 stalls and vendors offering fresh vegetables, seafood, meats, baked goods and prepared foods. With some of the best crab cakes known to man and outstanding shrimp salad sandwiches, a trip to Lexington Market is a must — even if it’s just for the culture. Sure there are plenty of events at the market throughout the year, but the most anticipated is Lunch with the Elephants. Every March, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus elephants parade up Eutaw Street only to arrive at the market with 1,100 oranges, 1,000 apples, 500 heads of lettuce, 700 bananas, 400 pears and 500 carrots waiting to be inhaled.

2. Maryland blue crabs. These sweet-tasting crustaceans are probably Maryland’s greatest contribution to the culinary world. To try them, partake in a crab feast. It's quite the affair: Tables are topped with newspaper and steamed Maryland blue crabs are placed on top, filling the air with the spicy aroma of Old Bay seasoning. Though you’ll have to get a lesson on how to pick one of these suckers (a skill that’s instilled in Marylanders from day one), it’s definitely worth the work.

3. Crab cakes. Remember the line from Wedding Crashers: "Crab cakes and football. That’s what Maryland does"? Well, it’s true. You haven’t had a real crab cake until you taste one without all the bread filling. The sweet meat of the backfin in the Maryland blue crab is held together with eggs, a teensy bit of breadcrumbs and, yes, more crabmeat.

4. Berger Cookies. A Baltimore tradition, Berger Cookies are an experience in their own. The German cookie — vanilla wafer covered with a thick chocolate ganache — has become one of the biggest cultural hits in Baltimore. Surprise, surprise: A German family brought the recipe over to America in the mid-1800s. One bite of a Berger Cookie and you will become a devotee. Our mouths are watering just thinking about it.

5. Ballpark fare. Sure, you can get ballpark fare in just about any city, but Baltimore goes beyond the usual substandard hot dogs and peanuts. Considering Camden Yards is one of the most beautiful baseball stadiums in the world, it’s only right that it serves some unique food. Make your way below the bleachers to Boog’s BBQ and order up a pit beef sandwich, a regional specialty. Add in a locally brewed National Bohemian — or Natty Boh, as Marylanders call it — and you’ve got yourself a delicious game-time meal.

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