From the Culinary Capital of Maine
And beyond–Maine is one foodie destination you won’t want to miss. Portland boasts over 300 food establishments all on its own. You’ll find all the best in this book that explores Portland, Maine’s foodie flare.
I’m actually more familiar than most Southerners with the cuisine of Maine. My father-in-law was raised on a farm there in the Thirties and Forties and eventually my Texan mother-in-law learned how to make a few of his favorite dishes. Maine Cuisine consists of local ingredients and the comfort of the old-style English cooking.
Maine Cuisine and Where to Eat It:
Moxie Soda Pop
Moxie is a regional soda that was originally created as a patent medicine in 1876 by Dr. Augustin Thompson in Lowell, Massachuesetts. He claimed that it contained an unnamed South American plant, and was effective against paralysis and softening of the brain among other things. The actual secret ingredient in moxie was gentian root, which is reputed to have medicinal qualities. Moxie is the official soft drink of Maine.
As a result of its strong ad campaign the brand name “moxie” has become a part of our American vocabulary, meaning “courage, daring, or spirit.”
I’ve actually had this stuff because my husband’s father was from Maine and my husband had heard about it all his life. When we saw it at a grocery store it was a must. A lot of people don’t like it, but personally I thought it was refreshingly less sweet than modern sodas.
Stop at a Market Basket grocery store (a Maine and New Hampshire chain that was also started in Lowell, Massachusetts), and pick up a bottle.
New England Boiled Dinner at Spurwick Country Kitchen:
A New England boiled dinner is just whats is sounds like, corned beef (or a ham) with cabbage and vegetable items such as potato, rutabaga, parsnip, carrot, white turnip, and onion.
Located on Route 77 south of Portland, they offer classic Maine country cooking–including New England boiled dinner.
Lobster Dinner at Young’s Lobster Pound:
A lobster dinner is traditional boiled in seawater and usually served hot with a baked potato, chips, or vegetables, and rolls.
Young’s Lobster Pound in Belfast, Maine is a family run business now on its fourth generation. You can pick out your own lobster 30,000 lb. capacity aquarium. Dine in or take out (your lobster either dead or alive). Enjoy your lobster outside on the deck while watching the sun go down over Penobscot Bay.
American Chop Suey at Nicky’s Crusin’ Diner:
Believe it or not, my Southern husband grew up eating this dish, and we still eat it today at least once a month at his mother’s house. It was one of my father-in-law’s favorite dishes and she learned how to cook it one winter when they stayed in Maine.
Imagine my surprise when researching this article and it popped up as one of the major dishes of the area–and it was actually really called chop suey–we had always thought it was some weird name that my husband’s grandmother had made up.
Chop suey consists of elbow macaroni, ground beef, onions and green peppers in a tomato-based sauce. It is cooked on the stove, not on the oven like most casseroles. It is know as chop suey because of it’s sometimes haphazard mix of meat, vegetables, and Italian seasonings.
Nicky’s Cruisin’ Diner has been around since the 1970s. Every Wednesday night June through September people bring out their classic cars and enjoy the good comfort food of Maine.
Blueberry Crisp at Brown’s Wharf Restaurant:
Maine produces 25% of the United States blueberry harvest, so it would be a crime to leave Maine without trying a blueberry dessert.
The blueberry crisp at Brown’s Wharf Restaurant is said to be the best in Maine. Brown Brothers has been a part of the Boothbay Harbor waterfront for over five decades. They have a large collection of nautical artifacts to intrigue patients while they are dining.
If you can’t make it to Boothbay Harbor, why not try the recipe for blueberry pudding on this old sampler I found!
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