Yankee, Go Home
Midwestern Exposure is writing from New England this week — this Yankee is home for a visit! The Midwestern Gentleman has spent time in Boston and New York before, but he has never visited the portion of New England that lies between: the teensy states, Rhode Island and Connecticut. Currently, we are enjoying the historic fishing village vibe of Mystic, CT, where my Mom lives. I am also trying to eat as much seafood as I possibly can. I’ve really missed the ocean, both for its culinary bounty and for its moody, dark blues and grays this time of year.
During Lent, the Portuguese Holy Ghost Society holds a weekly Friday fish fry at their club in Stonington Borough. Locals line up — the line sometimes extending down the block — as they wait to order fish and chips, fried calamari, fried whole belly clams, fried scallops, or chowder (and $3 beers!) The generous platters are eaten in a cafeteria-style dining area, at long tables with strangers sitting side by side and sharing friendly conversation.
On our way to the Portuguese Club, we stopped to see Connecticut’s only remaining fishing fleet, the source of the seafood for the fish fry. Everything is purchased fresh the day of the event.
For dinner, my mom ordered the fish and chips. The battered cod was flaky and tender, with a fresh, light flavor. The Midwestern Gentleman opted for the fried scallops. They were cooked perfectly, to a tender texture and surprising sweetness. I couldn’t resist the fried whole belly clams, which are one of the foods I miss most living in Iowa. They were tender, juicy, and flavorful. The platter came piled with so many clams that I couldn’t waste any valuable stomach real estate on the french fries, but for a larger appetite they would have been a great addition to the deep-fried meal.
Stonington Borough’s picturesque, tightly spaced streets lined with historic homes made a lovely backdrop for a post-dinner stroll. In spite of the fried-food coma that hit us all after we got home, this was a wonderful way to spend a Friday evening in Connecticut. It’s good to be home, if only for a visit.