Two great cookbooks that showcase the stuff of Maine
Maine Bicentennial Community Cookbook
(Islandport Press, June 2020)
This cookbook includes over 200 recipes submitted by residents from every county in the state from Aroostook all the way south to York. The recipes that made the cut range from Senator Margaret Chase Smith’s Blueberry Muffins and Stephen King’s Lunchtime Gloop to Grandmother Hamden’s Chicken Pie and Nana Johnson’s Fried Lobster. Editors Margaret Hathaway and Karl Schatz worked with cookbook historian Don Lindgren of Rabelais Books, who also wrote the book’s foreword, to collect and compile recipes, stories, family photos (there are no food photos in this book), and historic ephemera.
While the recipes are as interesting as they are varied, the true treasures in this crowdfunded compilation to commemorate Maine’s becoming a state lie in the stories behind the recipes as told by the Mainers who submitted them. Together, these recorded memories weave a tapestry of community connections facilitated by food. Two dollars of the purchase price of every book will be donated to help fight hunger in Maine.
Classic Diners of Maine by Sarah Walker Caron
(American Palate, a division of The History Press, June 2020)
Equal parts history book and a food lover’s ode to her many options for corned beef hash, Bangor Daily News features editor Sarah Walker Caron takes readers to all of Maine’s diners, both working ones and long-gone ones. Diners here have a rich history that mirrors some of the state's history, says Caron.
“Though we love them now for being our go-to stop on road trips or a beloved breakfast spot, many diners [in Maine] got their start because of their proximity to mills and a workforce that needed good food at good prices at unusual times.”
Caron’s research gave her a better understanding of how diners use locally sourced ingredients in their American classic meals. “Before farm-to-table was a buzzword, some of Maine's most beloved diners were focusing on locally grown produce to make their dishes better,” says Caron. The Maine Diner in Wells has a garden that has supplied vegetables and herbs used in diner dishes for decades. And the A1 Diner in Gardiner has a long-standing tradition of buying from local farmers.
In case you’re wondering, Caron considers the hash at Becky's Diner and the Miss Portland Diner to be among the best as it’s made fresh, on site, in both Portland locations. But she also admits to being partial to the Fried Chicken Sandwich at the Palace Diner in Biddeford, the She-Crab Soup at the Maine Diner, and the Irish Benedict at the Miss Portland Diner in Portland.