Saving the Chesapeake may be tough to swallow


Want to test your commitment to saving the bay? Eat a nutria. Eat a big, fat marsh rat. Lay off the crabs. Don't even look at Chesapeake oysters - if you can find them - and chow down on a dish of nutria, the 15-pound cousin of the muskrat. That's the message from the Maryland Conservation Council. You won't see crabs (except in the soup) at its annual crab feast tomorrow at Mayo Beach, south of Annapolis. Instead, you'll see Nick "Mad Dog" Carter serving nutria (head, feet and buckteeth removed).

Quick, before you gag, some background: Nutrias are root-eating rodents. Their numbers are growing throughout the Chesapeake, and they're gobbling up precious wetlands. The value of their pelts has fallen to virtually nothing; the only market left is the meat market. That's where Nick Carter comes in. A biologist with the Department of Natural Resources, he's been trying to get the public to try nutria. And save the bay! Carter stewed some nutria for taste-testers last winter. "Definitely better than muskrat," reported Sun columnist Tom Horton. "Fine texture, light in color, not greasy at all." Look for Carter and Horton at tomorrow's feast. (Vegetarian dishes, barbecued chicken and nutria-less desserts also will be offered.) The save-the-crab fest runs from noon 'til 5. For information, call 448-2362. Et bon appetit.

Weasel words

Also tomorrow: The Baltimore Ferret Club sponsors its second annual show at the Annapolis Armory. More than 200 ferrets plan to attend. (There haven't been that many weasels in Annapolis since the General Assembly was in session.) . . . Over the next three weeks, Giants Stadium in New Jersey will be visited by the Saints (John Paul II celebrates Mass on Oct. 5) and the Cardinals (Oct. 8). . . . By next Thursday night, there will be new lights on the Bromo Seltzer Tower. But what I wanna know is: When do we get a new blue bottle on top? . . . I hear a very lofty individual in the Baltimore Police Department had a little problem with the criminal element at his home 'bout a week ago. Someone smashed the window of the lofty one's vehicle and took his cellular phone.

Senator in the suburbs

Tom Kiefaber, who operates the grand Senator Theater in Baltimore, is now promoting movies in the suburbs. "The Madness of King George" and "Little Odessa" splashed across the new 40-foot screen at the Gordon Center for the Performing Arts in Owings Mills this week, marking the launch of a series called "Movies at the Gordon" being presented "in affiliation with the Senator Theater." ("Dr. Zhivago" plays the Gordon this weekend.) According to an announcement from the Senator, the idea is to "provide high quality film fare for discerning movie lovers, a 'big screen' alternative to the commercial multiplexes and home video." Which was always the Senator's exclusive appeal. So why create competition for yourself? "Better me than someone else," says Kiefaber, who was approached by the Gordon to present and promote the series. The Gordon won't be showing first-run films, but will feature the kind of award-winning movies - "Zhivago," for instance - we're used to seeing on the Senator's North Govans marquee from time to time. Maybe the Gordon series will give suburbanites a jones for the "big screen experience," and send them to the Senator. That would be a good thing.

'Legends' falls short

Just saw "Legends of the Fall" on video - a shame, I know, because it deserved big-screen treatment. But I'm all thumbs down. Even Anthony Hopkins couldn't save this one. It's "The Thornbirds" meets "A River Runs Through It" without the fly-fishing. And will somebody tell Julia Ormond to get the angst out of her eyes? Geesh.

Food poisoning

Barbara Aylesworth of Baltimore came across some interesting menu items over the summer: "Lemon moose" at the St. Mary's College cafeteria (tasted just like chicken); "Cream Dement" (or was it Dream Cement?) at a snowball stand on Belair Road; and "Main lobster" (as opposed to secondary lobster) at Ding How in Fells Point. . . . Charlie Merkle of Burtonsville had trouble swallowing some turkey breast. Anna, his ever-loving wife of 62 years, said: "Do you think it would help if I gave you the hemlock maneuver?" That certainly would have ended Charlie's discomfort.

Ways of life

John Sherwood's fine book, "Maryland's Vanishing Lives" (photos by Edwin H. Remsberg), appears in softcover next month and "CBS Sunday Morning" has been working on a feature report about it. Reporter Bill Geist was in Baltimore this week to tape, among others, Marguerite Schertle, the legendary 94-year-old waitress of the Woman's Industrial Exchange. "Sunday Morning" is the perfect place for a report about disappearing crafts and ways of life. Charles Kuralt was the program's original host. Kuralt's work for the "CBS Evening News" inspired Sherwood, a feature reporter for The Evening Sun and the Washington Star, to go "on the road" to profile the forgotten, the overlooked, the eccentric. The report should air Sunday, Oct. 1.

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