By John Thorne

During this selection of essays, John Thorne units out to discover the origins of his id as a prepare dinner, going “here” (the Maine coast, the place he’d summered as a baby and again as an grownup for a decade’s sojourn), “there” (southern Louisiana, the place he used to be captivated via Creole and Cajun cooking), and “everywhere” (where he presents a sympathetic examining of such nationwide culinary icons because the hamburger, white bread, and American cheese, and sits right down to an incredible bowl of Texas red). those clever, looking essays are a passionate meditation on meals, personality, and place.

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They convey a complete small loaf of bread to you, whether you’re consuming by myself, and so they heap such a lot of French fries in your plate that they spill off onto the desk. Supper choices like roast crammed chook with cranberry sauce communicate of Sunday dinner, yet they’re priced just a little above a lunch at McDonald’s. inside of those guidance, there's a lot to love at Duffy’s. The menu has a enormously yet thoroughly unself-conscious nearby consider, within the feel that “Italian pasta”—shells full of meat sauce and cheese—served with an aspect of coleslaw is as a lot a Maine dish because the sorts of chowder, fish and clam, that the menu additionally bargains. (The undeniable fact that the fish chowder expenses greater than the clam chowder is one other clue that this isn’t a vacationer position. ) The greens, except the coleslaw, are—to the Maine taste—all out of a can, and comprise such favorites as boiled onions, pickled beets, and applesauce. The coleslaw is do-it-yourself and sprightly. The baked beans come from an outdated relations recipe, and the seasons are marked with dishes like strawberry shortcake and apple crisp. rather than regularly occurring fried “fish,” Duffy’s serves you a beneficiant component to stable haddock. The mashed potatoes are the true factor. At breakfast you may get an omelet choked with actual Cheddar cheese or a plate of flapjacks: 3 substantial ones, crisp and brown with no and fluffy and light-weight inside of. regardless of all this, the cooking at Duffy’s, like its tables, is shot via with fracture strains. these flapjacks arrive on the desk with a single-serving plastic box of Kraft syrup, a dull-flavored corn-syrup combination and not using a drop of the genuine maple stuff jumbled in. The baked beans include a slice of insipid ham reduce from a daisy roll. The fried haddock is served with prepackaged Kraft tartar sauce. And once we moved up the coast and went to devour at Chase’s, in wintry weather Harbor, we have been served mini-loaves of “home-baked” bread just like these dropped at our desk at Duffy’s. evidently an identical provider of frozen bread dough, laced with dough conditioner, visits them either. All this in a spot the place local community nonetheless produce maple syrup, smoke and therapy nation hams, and lift natural greens, lamb, pork, and free-range chickens. Duffy’s buyers be aware of this stuff and lots of be aware of their flavor, yet in addition they understand that, this day, none of them comes reasonable. such things as maple syrup that have been as soon as unfastened or just about it are actually expensive and for this reason now not used. Maine vernacular eating places zig and zag in this issue—many serve actual butter with their biscuits and genuine cream with their coffee—but whereas frugality and generosity are primary constants, those locations at the moment are gun-shy approximately being concept too specific. If it’s in any respect glaring, their consumers are “agin” it. therefore the absence of lobster at the menu. local Mainers—including lobstermen themselves—are, at top, ambivalent concerning the beast, image of the profession military of out-of-staters, they usually hardly ever, if ever, consume it. “Too expensive,” they are saying, shooting in that tart word the fissure that cuts the country in : the outdated Maine on one part, the remainder of us at the different.

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