Confessions of a Transplant: Foodie Fodder (1)

Who started the term: ‘foodie’?

Really. Maybe I’m to lazy to look it up on Google or Wickedpidia and if that is the case, then I don’t really want to know. As a self-admitted word-nerd, what ever happened to being a gourmet, gourmand or epicurean? Lovely words gone to dust with word that means nothing sounding way to close to my ear as fuddy-duddy. Which means, ‘why are you wearing that it makes you look old?” or in more contemporary vernacular: old fart.

One time after watching an ad for Church’s Chicken I asked my husband if he’s eaten at Church’s. And he said yes. So I asked “Why haven’t you taken me there with you?” and he said that I was a food snob. OUCH!

It has now become a joke between us. But I did start thinking about my relationship with food. And, well, no, I’m not much into fried chicken from anywhere because it doesn’t sit well in my gut. The grease. . .with one exception.

Flo’s in Portsmouth, RI. Island Park to be specific, for those reading may know the area. Flo’s is what ;most would call a clam shack. To me (and my siblings) it is a a taste of heaven. It sits across the street from the Sakonnet River, where it widens on its way to the Atlantic.  We could walk there from our grandmother’s summer house for fish and chip and clam cakes.

Let me explain that a clam cake in that part of the world is a  about the size of a tennis ball, savory fried dough that is filled with bits of clam. New Orleans has beignets, the Southwest has sopapillas, Rhode Island has clam cakes.  (You may have been thinking of a stuffed clam: spicy clam and sausage, bread crumbs filling a big old clam shell, but no, those are different).

When I was older and had moved to Fall River with my mother, every now and then my grandmother would ask to go for a ride to get “a nice piece of fish”. This meant driving to Flo’s and we’d get one order of fish and chips and one order of just fish. Thick white fish, cod or pollock, thin crispy batter fried and moist, perfect. She’d sprinkle malt vinegar and salt on hers, and three generations of women would eat in the car, licking fingers.  When my son was old enough to eat such delicacies, another generation joined in the shoreline feasting.

All this goes to say, I’m just picky about my fried foods, which may mean I’m a food snob.  I don’t like saying I’m a foodie. I’d rather be a snob, a connoisseur, especially of fish, shell or finned, cooked or raw, cooking or savoring.

This pondering rant all started by an off chance conversation while waiting for a cup of coffee here in Austin. A women behind me had a Trader Joe’s bag, and I said to her, “Oh you must be from the East coast or the West coast!” And she said no, she lives in Austin but spends time in San Fransisco. . . and like many here in Austin, she said, “Trader Joe’s is opening here!” I shrugged, cynically replied: “Ill believe it when I see it” and she ooh and gushed she knew it and they bought the property and blah, blah, blah and Wholefoods has been the main reason . . . I stopped listening. I’ll believe it when I see it. And that I’m not a fan of Wholefoods. She then said, “Well I’m a bit of a foodie. . . I want to buy ethically treated meats. . .” Abrupt me, boarding on rude, said: “Oh did the pig ask to be dead?” Which flustered her entirely. . .I was playing hard ball with her. . . all because she ‘knows the owner’ and ‘is a foodie”.

Not my shining moment but the barista grinned handing me my regular cup of joe.

More later, I need to stir my soup. Before I go, on last thing. When I was horribly sick from chemo, I’d plan in my mind a trip to Flo’s.  When we were done with all the trips to Houston, we did just that: a road trip to New England where I filled up on love and loving.



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