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After moving to Washington, D.C., I went to a bar called Sign of the Whale for a beer and to revel in my new city. I also ordered some fries to snack on. The waitress asked me if I wanted Old Bay on my fries. I, being a humble Kansan, tilted my head like a golden retriever and asked what, praytell, is Old Bay.

The question tripped her up in the same way that it would come to trip me up. She answered, “It’s… seasoning. It tastes like… I don’t know,” and then with finality, “It’s Old Bay.”

Having someone describe a seasoning to me by repeating its name with an if you don’t know, then you just don’t know tone was all I needed to hear. I now know that Old Bay tastes like salt, paprika, and rust.

Here is the incomplete and growing list of things I have seasoned with Old Bay since moving out of the DMV.



Brussel sprouts





Mac n cheese

A bullet wound that needed to be cauterized

Fish and chips after I made a waitress at a hotel restaurant in Ilwaco, Washington rummage around the dry storage for it

Coffee, because I thought it was cinnamon

Dennis William

Dennis is an aspiring English teacher and still listens to ska music. He lives in Portland, Oregon, which is fine, just not in the same way that DC is fine.

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