On Eating in Maine
By Kathleen Fleury
Created Mar 10 2008 - 3:36pm
I used to be a picky eater. As a child, I clung to my staples of macaroni and cheese, chicken fingers, and Lipton's beef rice with the same fervor I employed to cling to my mother's side. I suffered from homesickness and think that my tastes (or lack thereof) in food suffered from a similar proclivity towards the familiar, the un-exotic: I was a comfort food child.
After traveling across Europe and finding myself living in New York City, those tastes expanded. They did not change altogether, but rather I could enjoy the sushi at Nobu, or the wild boar at Babbo with the same gusto as the absurdly delicious grilled cheese (I would sometimes splurge for the accompanying slice of tomato if feeling adventurous) at Old Town Bar. And another thing happened in the City. I learned to cook.
When the forces collided to present the option of moving back to Maine, I suddenly became preemptively homesick for the food in New York that I was about to leave. I weighed whether the scenery and the work could in fact compete with Trader Joe's next door. Would fresh seafood caught down the street but cooked and eaten alone beat the succulent lobster roll shared with friends at The Mermaid Inn? Would anything compare to having the choice of delicious Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Ethiopian, or pizza delivered to my door on any given night?
I had known from visits home (and the media) that Portland was a "food destination." But what does that mean? Moving from a block littered with more than ten dining options in a 250-foot stretch to a small town with no take out and maybe ten restaurants total, how could it be true that Maine's food could really compete with a culinary metropolis like New York?
I've been back for a few months, now, and I'm convinced that Maine can compete. It's just a bit more difficult to find the good stuff (which, by the way, is often the raw products top New York City chefs are using anyways). And that's what this blog is dedicated to: finding the great, local food and the people behind it that make Maine one of the best places to eat in the country. I'll travel from fork to farm and back again, exploring everything from Maine cheeses and wines, to lobsters and clams, to the top-notch meats grazing Maine farms (and the plates of Maine's premier restaurants). My hope is that you will join me in my journey and together we will create a dialogue that will serve as not only a source of entertainment but also as a culinary resource for all things food in Maine.