Crabby US senators pay off Super Bowl wager

US Senator Dianne Feinstein may have started a cross-country food feud with lawmakers from crab-crazed Maryland on Thursday when she honored a Super Bowl bet with "real crab" from her native California.

Feinstein and fellow Democratic California Senator Barbara Boxer paid their friendly wager with a feast of Dungeness crab, Napa Valley wine, sourdough bread and some California cheeses after their San Francisco 49ers lost to the Baltimore Ravens in Sunday's American football championship game.

"It is the vanquished coming to a meeting with the victors," Feinstein grinned in an elegant US Capitol meeting room where she and Boxer laid out their debt to Maryland's two US Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin, also Democrats, who were decked out in their team's purple-and-black colors.

"This is 'real crab,'" a cheeky Feinstein emphasized as she held up a dish of the tasty California crustacean.

Maryland's crabs from the sprawling Chesapeake Bay are world famous.

Mikulski lifted one of the crabs into the air, but when one of her California colleagues offered tips on how to crack it open, the longest-serving woman in the history of Congress offered some senatorial ribbing of her own.

"I know how to eat it," she quipped, cracking the crab in half with a firm break of her wrists. "We in Maryland are expert in crabs."

And when Feinstein urged Mikulski to rinse the seafood before eating it, Cardin deadpanned: "Is that because of the water?"

Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, told AFP afterward that her crabby mood was a harmless "effort to just rub it in."

"Professional sports means so much to cities, and you see how it brought people together in Baltimore," she said, shortly before chairing a confirmation hearing for the next CIA director.