Calamari: RI's 'official' state appetizer?
STATE HOUSE – Rhode Island-style calamari is on menus of restaurants far and wide, as Rep. Joseph M. McNamara recently discovered during a visit to New Hampshire. It’s been found on the menus of restaurants in southern California.
“Rhode Island style” means the crispy fried rings and tentacles are tossed with thin loops of pickled hot peppers.
The fact that “Rhode Island style” calamari has such broad appeal may be interesting, but it shouldn’t be surprising that squid caught in Rhode Island, however it is prepared, is immensely popular – Rhode Island has the largest squid-fishing fleet on the East Coast. And with a take of nearly 7 million pounds a year, Rhode Island accounts for about 54 percent of squid landings in the Northeast.
Squid is to Rhode Island what lobster is to Maine, or cod to Massachusetts.
“Some much of what we hear or read about Rhode Island is negative,” said Representative McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston). “We need to start promoting the good and wonderful things about our state. And while squid may make some people squeamish, we should be boasting about the fact that Rhode Island is the east coast capital of squid, and that our style of preparing it is being used by chef across the country. Even Guy Fieri has a recipe for it.”
To promote the fact that the fishing, hospitality and tourism industries are crucial to the economy of the state and the fact that Rhode Island has some of the finest restaurants in the nation, Representative McNamara has introduced legislation to declare calamari the “official state appetizer.”
If approved, calamari would join the ranks of other “official” Rhode Island items such as coffee milk as the official state drink, the Rhode Island greening apple as the official state fruit, and the quahog as the official state shell.
“For those who might say this is frivolous,” said Representative McNamara, “I can only say that it’s important for our state to boast about its strengths, to market its many positives. In fact, a study done by Cornell University a few years ago found that 72 percent of Rhode Island commercial fishermen would welcome a state seafood marketing campaign.”
Being the squid capital of the Northeast and having a Rhode Island-style edible based on that catch “is a perfect combination,” said Representative McNamara “and a perfect way to recognize the importance of the squid fishing industry to our economy and the unique and delicious Rhode Island-style appetizer.”
The legislation, (2013-H5654), has been referred to the House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare. It is co-sponsored by Rep. Teresa Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, Narragansett, South Kingstown), Rep. Donna M. Walsh (D-Dist. 36, Charlestown, New Shoreham, South Kingstown, Westerly), Rep. Deborah Ruggiero (D-Dist. 74, Jamestown, Middletown) and Rep. Gregory J. Costantino (D-Dist. 44, Lincoln, Johnston, Smithfield).
For more information, contact:
Randall T. Szyba, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903