John Shields, Gertrudes Chesapeake Kitchen

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The Final Weeks of Snowball Season in Baltimore

When you ask a Baltimorean about their favorite summertime food memories, you will likely hear tales of crab feasts from throughout their lives, and maybe about the time Aunt Josie alone ate two dozen crabs while polishing off her own pitcher of beer. But if you dig just a little deeper beyond the crab seasoning, then you will undoubtedly hear us locals wonderfully rhapsodizing about our snowballs, that very-Baltimore summer delicacy of ice enjoyed on the hot, humid evenings of summer.

For those unfamiliar with snowballs, they are sweet treats of shaved ice–not crushed, packed ice as found in snow cones–drenched with a plethora of flavored sugary syrups and all sorts of optional condiments. Snowballs are sold from snowball stands, of course, and these stands can run from an elaborate shed-like building adorned with colored lights, to a simple folding table covered with a plastic tablecloth. All stands feature the essential shaved ice machine poised and ready to conquer big chunks of ice, as well as the numerous bottles of flavored syrups. Regardless of the surroundings the results are usually the same: a delightful and refreshing icy treat slathered with your favorite flavoring and toppings.

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