Everyone who thinks of Maine food thinks of lobsters and blueberries. But there are other things we think you’d enjoy that are equally Maine to the taste buds.

Here are five Maine foods you may want to try (or if you’re a local, get your visiting friends to try) for the full Maine experience.

Moxie

This Maine drink is very polarizing. Some don’t like it. Some swear by it. Some swear Mainers only like it because it is from Maine.

The gentian root (often confused as ginseng for the similar pronunciation) is what helps give the drink its unique flavor–and supposed medicinal values as Moxie got its start as a cure-all medicine back in the late 1800s. The inventor of Moxie, Dr. Augustin Thompson, boasted that Moxie could cure everything from paralysis to stupidity. He asserted Moxie “cured drunkards by the thousands, effectively too; made more homes happy; cured more nervous, prostrated, overworked people; prevented more crime and suffering in New England than all other agencies combined.”

It sure worked for Red Sox slugger Ted Williams who endorsed Moxie and was later inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame (we’ll let you decide if correlation or causation).

Now gentian root does have medicinal properties according to many herbalists and homeopaths–just not necessarily to the extent that Dr. Thompson might claimed.

Wrinkles

Move over, Paris. Mainers also have a palette sophisticated enough to enjoy snails. But they aren’t land snails. These are rock snails and they feast on seaweed. And algae. And other very small things. And we eat them (at least some of us do).

Their full name is periwinkle, but Mainers simple call them wrinkles. Those who harvest them (collect them by hand on rocks or other seafood) are called wrinklers. Those who eat them are called sophisticated (at least in this blog–other places they might be called something else).

How does one prepare a wrinkle? Some pickle them–there is even a popular restaurant in Downeast Maine called The Pickled Wrinkle. But pickling takes time of course–and sometimes your taste buds just can’t wait, so some people sautée them in garlic over pasta.

Where can you get wrinkles? The Pickled Wrinkle does serve them and some local grocery stores also carry them. You can also get them from DownEast Whelks.


Fiddleheads

Before Maine was called Maine, Native Americans here were harvesting these green furled fronds of ostrich ferns.

The height of fiddlehead season is late spring, a great time to enjoy the antioxidants fiddleheads offer. Most people use them as you would kale: sauteed in butter (and maybe some pork fat!), roasted, or in a quiche, but there are lots of recipes to try. The key is to clean them well. Multiple washes in fresh water are often needed to get the bits out, even when you buy them!

You can find fiddleheads near freshwater (think swamps and riverbanks) and pick them fresh yourself sometime or you may find them commonly sold off the bed of a truck parked roadside (local grocery stores also carry them in season).

Whoopie Pies

The whoopie pie seemed on the path to being named the official Maine State Dessert but the powerful Blueberry Pie Lobby (simply lovers of blueberry pie–not the actually blueberry industry itself who was rather passive in this debate) stepped in along with health-conscious politicians and helped push out whoopie pies in favor of the healthier blueberry pie for the official Maine State Dessert.  In the great compromise of this great Maine food fight, whoopie pies were awarded the consolatory title of being the official Maine State Treat.

Though other states like Vermont, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Massachusetts try to lay claim to the being the birthplace of whoopie pies, Maine is an important place for this dessert.

The classic whoopie pie is chocolate but other flavors gingerbread, maple, and red velvet.  The pie that tied for first place as the best-flavored pie at the 2018 Maine Whoopie Pie Festival in Dover-Foxcroft was the Thin Mint Whoopie Pie by Grant’s Bakery of Lewiston. You can make whoopie pies yourself (we aren’t going to link to a particular recipe as people definitely have strong opinions about things like the ‘right’ frosting!) or you can buy them at most Maine grocery stores and gas stations.

Needhams (And Potatoes)

Needhams are chocolate candies that originated in Maine. Made with potatoes (we know), they are mixed with sugar (and other things) and then covered in chocolate.

Most people don’t know that northern Maine is the second largest producer of potatoes in the United States after Idaho. In the summer, Fort Farfield has the Potato Blossom Festival celebrating the crop. Some local schools start classes in mid-August to give students a break in September/October to help with the harvest (though since hand picking is mostly gone there aren’t many jobs in the fields working on the harvesters).

In other words, whether you are going to eat a fresh potato from a bag you bought off a road side stand in Northern Maine (or at the local grocery store), or enjoy Maine potatoes in Needhams form (sold at some local Maine specialty shops like Reny’s and grocery stores), Maine potatoes are a special food you should add to your list.

As you see, Maine has a rich culinary heritage beyond the lobsters and blueberries you see listed everywhere. Give one of these a try and let us know if you agree!


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