A Maryland crab feast is an event
...not a quick dinner, often enjoyed over the course of an afternoon. As a kid, during the summer, our family gatherings always included crabs, corn on the cob, oysters in half shell, and whatever else people brought...and of course some chilled beverages. Friends, family, neighbors, would gather for the feast in the early afternoon and leave late after sitting around the picnic table for hours...picking crab, chatting, and just enjoying each others company.
Yes, seasonings is on the shell, yes your fingers get the seasoning on them, your lips will burn from the seasonings, your fingers will smell like crabs for hours after, you will drink many beverages...not much is better than a crab feast in Maryland...much like a crayfish boil in NOLA, a Lobster boil in New England (and they cook their lobster in the sand, OMG!) , or BBQ in Kansas City...local traditions and preparations that are often misunderstood or misrepresented.
BTW...crabs in the Chesapeake are doing well, some of the best numbers have been in the past few years, although I think predictions for the coming 2012 season are down slighlty http://chesapeakebay.noaa.gov/fish-facts/blue-crab
. Yes, a lot of canned and pasteurized crab is coming from South America and Indonesia.
In my opinion, some of the best food is eaten with your fingers....fried chicken, ribs, corn, crabs, tacos, and many dishes from cuisines like Indian and Ethiopian are traditionally eaten with your hands