Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather!
I was certain that the state food of Maine had to be lobster, but I was wrong! According to all sources, it’s the blueberry, as in “wild blueberry,” which was officially designated thestate fruit in 1991. It is also the “state dessert,” so proclaimed in 2011, more specifically “Blueberry pie made with wild Maine blueberries.”
So, where does that leave the lobster?
Well, as much as I like blueberries and wild blueberry pie, I believe I’d opt for lobster any day. There are many ways and many places to enjoy lobster in Maine, some of them renowned, some far off the beaten track — all of them good!
This summer, during a much anticipated, multi-week sojourn in this seacoast state, I did my best to sample as many of those places and ways as possible, often with an ample measure of other seafood added in for variety.
I have to confess I turned down a spoonful of “lobstah ice cream,” but I may have to go back for a sample, just to say I did. (Somehow, I just can’t imagine it — in the same way that I cannot imagine fried clam, jalapeno or barbecued chicken ice cream!)
Keeping It Simple
In Maine, especially in the summer, it’s hard to escape lobster specials. There are 2 and 3-lobster dinners with all the trimmings served by uniformed waiters at fine restaurants. And there are lobster rolls at Red’s Eats in Wiscasset, with long lines and periodic traffic jams at all hours, no matter what the weather. A person can buy lobsters from friendly vendors along the road who will steam them so you can take them home and add the sides yourself, your choice.
In Maine, McDonald’s even serves lobster. For a quick bite, it’s not at all bad! Honest.
But the best way? Again, it’s personal choice, of course, but lobster fresh off the boat and straight from the tank, eaten at a picnic table on a pier overlooking a local working harbor is really about as close to “wonderful” as it gets. At most of the local lobster piers, it’s perfectly acceptable to pack a picnic basket with your own favorite appetizers, sides and beverages and make an afternoon or an evening of it.
In Midcoast Maine, locals have their own preferences; co-ops and waterside restaurants do a brisk business even when the tourist trade is off. Some of the local hangouts serve lobster, steamers (clams) and corn only. Others have a full menu that might include burgers, coleslaw and potato salad, grilled cheese sandwiches, clams, mussels, scallops, shrimp, crab and haddock. French fries and onion rings tempt adults and children alike. And then there’s dessert. Ice cream stands are at least as popular as lobster shacks!
All About Food
About that state food — there really is no officially designated “state food” in Maine. That would take an action by the state legislature, and we’ll just trust that these days they have better things to do! However, just in case you’re interested, Moxie is the official state drink and the whoopie pie is the “state treat.” Don’t know about whoopie pies? Ask any Mainer!
There are other people, by the way, who think lobster should be Maine’s special food. There are at least several lists, and that crusty little crustacean is on every one I found, in one form or another.
Maybe we should start lobbying for that “official” designation after all! It’ll get my vote!