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Saturday, June 12, 2010

"It's all that and a bag of chips"

Preferably salt & vinegar chips.  My previous post about the Maine Italian sandwich resulted in a lot of comments about people's favorite versions and places to get it, which has sparked in yours truly the thought of discussing what might be the most traditional take-out Maine lunch.
Requirements:  A traditional Maine take-out lunch must include an entree, a side, a beverage and a little dessert; and all of the elements must be, if not uniquely Maine in origin, at least foods that have become iconic Maine delicacies.  So while lobster may not be exclusive to Maine, a Maine lobster roll most certainly is; ditto the hotdog.  A great hotdog can be found in every corner of this country but a red casing hotdog in a toasted traditional Maine hotdog roll is unique to The Pine Tree State. 
While I do love Italian sandwiches, by the third mention of Richie's Pizza, my memory was suddenly jogged regarding the sandwich that I most often ordered there, the hot ham, cheese & bacon.  Now, you might want to suggest that's just a hoagie by another name but I would counter and ask if you've ever had a sandwich outside of Maine that truly made you think it comparable to a ham, cheese & bacon, hot with mayo.  What makes it different?  I don't know exactly since the ingredients are as straightforward as the words ham, cheese and bacon.  I do know I've never had a sandwich anywhere else in the country on a foot-long hotdog roll.  There's my nominee for the entree.

As for a side dish, I would proffer it must be a bag of salt & vinegar chips, preferably Humpty Dumpty brand, if your tongue can last to the bottom of the bag.  While salt & vinegar chips are now relatively common in many parts of the US, I can tell you that 30 years ago when I left Maine the only way to get them was to have your mom mail you some.  In fact, just mentioning them to people from anywhere else in the country would elicit a very strange look and quite often a sound of disgust. (sadly, no link is included since Canadians bought Humpty Dumpty a few years ago and by looking at their website, you wouldn't know the chips still exist, unless you go to any corner store in Maine)
On to a choice of beverage:  Is there really any debate on this one?  While it might be generous to say Moxie is an acquired taste, pretty much only Mainers have acquired a taste for it.  Go to the Moxie Festival in Lisbon Falls and see for yourself what makes it uniquely Maine.
Finally, it's time for dessert.  That long pause you hear is the list of nominees following the mention of whoopie pies.  Hearing no dissent, the whoopie pie it is.  Here's a nice history lesson on the whoopie pie.  By the way, my wife makes the best version I've ever had and I've had several.  My friends from Virginia ask when I'm coming back with more.
So there you have it, folks, a lunch that would bring both Paul Bunyan (speaking of Maine icons) and his ox to their knees -- plenty of sugar, spice, nitrates, carbs and no veggies in site.
You didn't think he got that big by eating veggies, did you?
Chew on that for a while and tell us what would be your nominee for the ultimate Maine lunch.

(This one's for you, Bro, since you like the saying "She's all that and a bag of chips" so much, but you'll definitely need some tummy aides.)


deb said...

I don't know if this counts as a "take out" but there's nothing like a Maine seafood platter, deepfried, with tartare sauce. I've had wonderful seafood in lots of countries, but I still crave those deepfried clams.

Zebster said...

Oh I think that very much counts and probably trumps mine, except you need to round it out.

ocbananagirl said...

damn- the first thing I thought about was fried clams, I have been to alot of areas that have great seafood but the fried clam is just a strip, it is like rubber, only in Maine do you get the "whole clam", including the juicy belly which is the best part. My favorite place to get fried clams was the Log Cabin In Newport, classic Maine, picnic tables, vinegar on the tables for your french fries, and the best coleslaw. That is my favorite Maine meal. The dessert would be blueberry pie.

Anonymous said...

well, there are so many unique to Maine meals to choose from...but I have to agree with deb on this one, the Maine seafood platter. My favorite place to get it now is Anglers in Searsport. There is an Anglers located at the old Log Cabin in East Newport. On the menu you'll find a Fisherman's platter or a Junior Platter which is a smaller, more manageable version of the BIG one. I'll take mine with french fries and a Sam Adams Heifenwizer beer. Desert, if you have room, would be pie from their extensive list of pies. Mine would be Lemon Meringue.
I can also tell you the best place to get a lobster roll, but then I'd have to hurt ya...I'm taking Deb there when she comes to Maine.

Zebster said...

I guess I'm going to have to go to E Newport, for nostaligia sake and the grub.
Heidi, no doubt the whole clam or don't bother. And blueberry pie is a nice call for a Maine dessert, though I don't care for cooked blueberries.
Alisa, better than Red's?!
Restaurant near us called LaFluer's in Jay has an all-you-can-eat buffett the first Friday of every month, which includes deep fried seafood.

Anonymous said...

I am all about the lobster roll...something so distinctively delicious about getting one at home, I never order one elsewhere.

Ok, so I know this is a vegetable...and is not really take-out, but what about fiddleheads? Nobody seems to know about them outside of Maine. They are so yummy with lots of vinegar and butter.