Lawmaker wants calamari to be official state appetizer

Dee DeQuattro

Should calamari be the official state appetizer?

If one lawmaker gets his way it will be. Representative Joseph McNamara said that in his travels he has seen “Rhode-Island” style calamari on menus from New Hampshire to California.

If you don't know what “Rhode-Island” style is, it is crispy fried ringlets and tentacles tossed with hot pepper rings.

Squid is actually Rhode Island's top fishing export and Rhode Island has the largest squid-fishing fleet on the East Coast, attributing for 54% of squid landings in the North East and taking in 7 million pounds of squid a year.

“Some much of what we hear or read about Rhode Island is negative,” said McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston). “We need to start promoting the good and wonderful things about our state. And while squid may make some people squeamish, we should be boasting about the fact that Rhode Island is the east coast capital of squid, and that our style of preparing it is being used by chef across the country. Even Guy Fieri has a recipe for it.”

While some may say the legislation is frivolous, McNamara disagrees. “For those who might say this is frivolous,” said McNamara, “I can only say that it's important for our state to boast about its strengths, to market its many positives. In fact, a study done by Cornell University a few years ago found that 72 percent of Rhode Island commercial fishermen would welcome a state seafood marketing campaign.”

Others argue that the state “appetizer” should be a “stuffie” or a stuffed quahog, while others a rooting for clam cakes.