Marsh rabbit? Oh, it's an acquired taste

The Baltimore Sun

Nobody asked me, but I'm pretty sure I saw raccoon for sale at Faidley's in Lexington Market the other day.

I checked back with Bill Devine, the owner of the famous seafood stand, and he verified it: Raccoons are $19.98 each, and the marsh rabbit - muskrat - is selling for $7 each.

It's the season for such victuals, and Devine still has customers for it, though not as many as he used to.

"People who grew up eatin' it on the Eastern Shore," he says, describing the market for raccoon. "Or people who grew up in the Carolinas or Virginia."

Devine says he had a legal fight with the city some 30 years ago over whether he could sell raccoon in the market, and he won. These days, Faidley's gets its raccoon from hunters in Pennsylvania, and it's not road kill. The muskrat comes from the Eastern Shore.

"The availability depends on the [market for] pelts," Devine says. "There's still a market for the 'rats but not liked it used to be. The Maryland Club used to have a muskrat dinner, but some of those old dudes who appreciated it have died off."

Nobody asked me, but I'm willing to bet that Mon Ami Roger, the new boulangerie-patisserie in Lexington Market, is the first place to ever sell French bread and pastries there - or, at least, it's the first place in the 207-year-old market with a French guy selling French goods.

If I'm wrong, you can tie me to the statue of Lafayette and beat me with a stale baguette.

Nobody asked me, but:

* Michael Phelps needs to separate his friends from back-stabbing creeps who try to pass themselves off as his friends.

He might want to lay off the mind-altering substances for a little while, too.

Ditto the beer pong.

* The Maryland Jockey Club wants to create a "new way to party" by banning outside beverages on the Preakness infield and bringing in the band ZZ Top. And what about cloggers? What about Up With People? I mean, if you're gonna go for it, go for it.

If we're going to do away with a rowdy, degenerate infield at Pimlico, where are rowdy, degenerate people supposed to go? Why isn't there a relocation plan?

I smell lawsuit.

* If A-Rod felt he was forced to take performance-enhancing steroids because of the pressures of being baseball's highest-paid player, he should have just taken a salary cut. If he had settled for only, say, $15 million a year instead of $25 million, I'm sure we wouldn't even be talking about this today.

* If you ran out to Play It Again Sports this winter to buy ice skates for skating on the frozen ponds and coves, please be advised: The ice melted! Go to an ice rink instead! The ice there is actually ... ice.

* Life is better here with the smoking bans in Baltimore bars.

* Robert J. Brugger's Maryland: A Middle Temperament, 1634-1980, remains one of the most useful and well-written references on state history.

* Cuba Gooding Jr. was terrific as Dr. Ben Carson in Gifted Hands, but this man needs to be in bigger, better movies.

* Baltimore has many faults, for sure, but you can at least find parking meters here that take nickels and dimes. And some take credit cards!

* It's great that Mayor Dixon wants to get people in better shape with the Fit Baltimore initiative, but that's an uphill battle against a mountain of fried chicken, fried lake trout, and french fries with gravy - not to mention the notorious fried crabcake fluff. Good luck with all that.

Nobody asked me but:

* The Senator Theatre is bigger and more important than any one man.

* So are the Baltimore Ravens, with the possible exception of Ray Lewis. (I added that second part 'cuz I don't want Ray to hit me.)

* If you do not like ice hockey, fine. But if you like sports and appreciate artistic genius, you are obliged to see Alexander Ovechkin play for the Caps at least once this season - No. 8 on his uniform, No. 1 in goals in the NHL.

And, while you're at it, check out Mike Green. He's No. 52 and the best offensive defenseman I've seen since the world was young.

* With 37 pitchers headed to spring training with the Orioles, Dave Trembley is going to need a depth chart. Or maybe he can have the each guy write his first name on a piece of tape and stick it on his hat.

* The state might raise the charge for E-ZPass, but I'll pay it. E-ZPass is the greatest invention since the Weed Whacker.

* A reader, upset with my praise for David Cordish's proposal for a billion-dollar slots casino and entertainment complex at Arundel Mills, writes: "If you think slots at a mall is such a good idea, put them in a mall near you."

Sorry, pal, I don't live near a mall, and if I did, I'd move.

Willie Sutton is often misquoted as saying he robbed banks "because that's where the money is." Cordish wants to put his casino at Arundel Mills because that's where the people are - about 14 million visitors a year, and he's betting a whole bunch might pass up buying another pair of shoes for a roll through his slots parlor.

It's the most interesting plan on the table so far.

* If I had a topcoat and shoes to match, I'd order one of those hats Aretha Franklin wore at the Obama inauguration.

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