Rhode Island Considers Making Calamari The Official State Appetizer

The Ocean State's Assembly is weighing their appetizer options.

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Dining in Rhode Island? Hold the blooming onions and the Oysters Rockefeller because the state Assembly is considering making Rhode Island-style calamari the official state appetizer.

Rhode Island-style calamari is made by breading, then frying or sautéeing squid and serving with hot peppers. It’s a staple along the Eastern seaboard, but is it good enough to bear the imprimatur of the state? Local Rep. Joseph McNamara, D-Warwick, thinks so. Last month he submitted a bill proposing that deep-fried squid become the state’s official appetizer, the Providence Journal reported this week.

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McNamara, who is the Chairman of the Health, Education and Welfare Committee proposed the bill, as a way to help to promote his state’s fishing, hospitality, and tourism industries. “We are in fact the calamari capital last year. 7 million pounds of squid were consumed, and we supply 54% of the squid sold along the east coast,” he said, also noting that “Rhode Island has the largest squid fishing fleet on the East Coast.”

Such official food designations are not entirely out of the ordinary for Rhode Island. The state already has an official drink (coffee milk), an official state fruit (the Rhode Island greening apple) and even an official state shell (the quahog).

As the bill works its way through committee, hungry Rhode Islanders just have to wait to see if another state representative will introduce a rival bill to make Clams Casino the official state appetizer, after all the dish reportedly originated in a casino in Narragansett.

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