Saturday, June 7, 2014

Eating In Maine: A Book Review w/ A Touch Of Homesickness

Right about now I am feeling pretty homesick for Maine. Maybe it is the fact that it has been two years since I made a brief summer visit to the town where I grew up. Perhaps it is because we have another, much longer Maine trip looming on the horizon. Or perhaps it is the decidedly non- summer weather we have been experiencing here in Belgium that makes me crave a warm Maine summer day--the type that is cool and crisp in the morning and evening with just the right amount of heat in the middle of the day. Actually, I think it is the combination of all of the above. Add in the recent arrival of my long awaited Eating In Maine book by Maine food bloggers Jillian and Malcolm Bedell and I just can't wait to "go home." But that trip is still weeks away so in the meantime I've been fulfilling my Maine cravings with their book and enjoying every minute of it.

Now this isn't your ordinary cookbook; part travel guide and part restaurant reviews with 115 recipes (hence the cookbook part) and lots of personal commentary, it is everything I would expect from these two great bloggers. The unknowing might be surprised to learn that Maine has a burgeoning foodie scene but it does. I remember spending a considerable amount of time in Portland a few years ago and being surprised myself at the number of great, innovative restaurants that were available. (Hot Suppa was my go to lunch option during the month Sidney was in the hospital there). And the options aren't just limited to Portland. The Bedells capture these places in their book but also focus on the small, out of your way or casual (this picnic table) eateries that are Maine institutions.

In many respects reading this book (OK, drooling over the photographs) was a type of homecoming for me. Malcolm grew up in the same area as I did only a decade later. But his references to the Maine dining institutions brought all of the memories back for me. Pies at Moody's Diner (do you only get to choose one type?) and hot dogs cooked in peanut oil from Wasses Hot Dogs, (Glenn thought he had died and gone to heaven when I introduced him to this hot dog stand and to this day it is the first place we stop when we hit the Mid Coast area) are an important part of my childhood memories. And then you have Dysart's, the truck stop in Bangor, Maine where nothing tasted better than a hot open faced turkey sandwich after spending a week backpacking in Baxter State Park. These places aren't fancy and would probably be looked down upon by more sophisticated appetites but they are a part of my Maine experience. And then there are the recipes for whoopie pies and dishes that include Moxie. It really doesn't get more Maine than this.

This book not only leaves my feeling hungry but it has me wanting to both cook and eat out at the restaurants they recommend. I don't particularly care for lobster (I know, call me a bad Mainer) but the pictures, recipes and restaurant reviews have me craving a fresh lobster roll.  As for my other meals, I'm still undecided but the options really are limitless. In fact, in this day and age of e-readers, I'm going to allot some of my precious luggage weight to bringing this book to Maine with me. It may be too soon to start packing for the trip but I can certainly start planning my Maine meals and begin cooking my way through their recipes.

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