Eighty-six the calamari.
As you are most likely aware, Rhode Island is still without an official state appetizer. Calamari, fried up tender and served with spicy pepperoncini, appeared to be on the fast track to fame as the Ocean State’s culinary standard-bearer.
A handful of restaurants around the state had jumped on the bandwagon and had been promoting their version of the popular dish as “Rhode Island’s State Appetizer” not long after Rep. Joseph McNamara, D-Warwick, introduced House Bill No.5654 way back in February.
The legislation cited that among other things, “squid is to Rhode Island what lobster is to Maine and cod is to Massachusetts.” On March 27, the Health, Education and Welfare Committee recommended the measure be held for further study. To use a restaurant analogy, at that point the bill was on the warming table in the kitchen waiting for a server to bring it to the table but that server had a big party to wait on and would not get to it for a long while.
The bill was not dead yet. As the contentious 2013 General Assembly session reached its end, the calamari bill was still up for a vote. At the 11th hour of the last day of the session on July 3, the legislation was one of the last items on the Senate’s calendar. But alas, the Senate adjourned without voting on it.
McNamara’s bitter disappointment was clear in his comments to the media that night. He described the action – or lack thereof – as a “symbolic insult to the state’s fishing industry,” and “petty politics at its worst.”
We won’t starve officially, however. There is the state fruit, the greening apple, or perhaps the state bird, the Rhode Island Red or the state fish, the striped bass.
Lucky for us, we still have lasagna, even if we have to share it with the rest of the nation. July 29 is National Lasagna Day and there is a local celebration: Angelo’s Civita Farnese on Providence’s Federal Hill will be celebrating National Lasagna Day with the rest of the nation.