Rhode Island Food Glossary and Pronunciation Guide

Sunday, August 13, 2006

· Cabinet: When a Rhode Islander ("Row-Die-Lundah") asks for a coffee cabinet, he's not ordering a kitchen cupboard but a dense shake made with ice cream and coffee syrup. Called a frappe in Massachusetts and a milkshake elsewhere, a cabinet comes in all the usual flavors, but coffee's like the official state flavuh.

· Chourico ("shoo-reese"): A spicy Portuguese sausage served grilled like a hot dog, sauteed with green peppers, scrambled with eggs or sliced into seafood chowder. Its milder cousin is linguica ("lingweese").

· Chowda: Okay, chowder. Three versions of that primordial soup with the tang of the sea are offered here. All typically contain chopped clams and clam juice, potato cubes, onion and herbs. Purists divide between New England (creamy) and Rhode Island's unthickened version, which may be called plain, natural or broth. The third version, Manhattan-style, is for those whose curious notion it is that chowder should contain tomatoes. The first New England chowder recipe was published in 1751; tomatoes didn't begin creeping in until the 1830s and still haven't made it far north of Connecticut.

· Clam cakes: No kin to the crab cake, the clam cake is a fritter. Minced clams are mixed in dough and deep-fried. Variables include spices, frying oil and the quantity of clams. The cost of clams now makes them widely scattered in some cakes.

· Coffee milk: A mixture of milk with sweet coffee syrup. It was named the Official State Drink in 1993, barely beating out Del's Frozen Lemonade.

· Del's Frozen Lemonade: A slushy summertime drink sold from a fleet of trucks that roll up to beaches, parks and event venues throughout the Rhode Island summer. From an Italian family recipe using fresh lemon juice, Del's has been synonymous with Rhode Island summers for nearly 60 years.

· Doughboy: No relation to the Pillsbury softy, the Rhode Island doughboy is typically a big square of pizza dough that's deep-fried and dusted with sugar.

· Fish and chips: Fish and chips came to Rhode Island during the Industrial Revolution when English and Irish mill workers brought their appetite for hot fried fish with them. They ate the accompanying potatoes with vinegar; Rhode Islanders still do.

· Grinder ("grinda"): Elsewhere, a sub, torpedo, hero or hoagie.

· Jonnycake: A traditional cornmeal-based pancake served for breakfast at some shoreline diners. ("The Sopranos" got it wrong by locating breakfast jonnycakes in New Hampshire. In northern New England, a johnnycake is singular, a sort of cornbread, and spelled with an "h.")

· Quahog ("co-hog"): A large clam whose shells live on as ashtrays in summer rentals. Their tough meat is chopped or ground for chowda or 'cakes.

· Schrod ("scrod"): In Rhode Island it is usually understood as small codfish, delicious when broiled and served with lemon and butter or Dijon sauce.

· Stuffie: A stuffed quahog. The stuffing includes bread, chopped clams and other ingredients such as green peppers, potatoes, eggs, garlic, onions, spices and sometimes chourico -- but not corn. It is heaped on a quahog shell and baked.

· Zuppa: In Italian, soup. In Rhode Island, zuppa is a light marinara sauce served with seafood over linguine.

-- Carol McCabe

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