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A Rhode Island Primer

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Mark Patinkin: In R.I., delegates would feast on stuffies and coffee milk

Thursday, September 2, 2004

The New York Times the other day decided to explain to Republican conventioneers about Manhattan quirks, such as narrow supermarket aisles and all-night bistros. It got me thinking we could use such a primer in Rhode Island to help visitors avoid local culture shock.

Herewith:

Welcome to Rhode Island, and if it's politics that brings you our way, you'll be interested to hear there are still one-party states left in the developed world, and we're one. When we say this is the Democratic republic of Rhode Island, it's with a capital D. We do have a Republican governor, but he doesn't have enough party members in the State House to sustain a veto without help from across the aisle; believe me, they've tried.

Meanwhile, the state's entire congressional delegation is Democratic, including Congressman-for-Life Patrick Kennedy, and Sen. Lincoln Chafee, who is a Democrat in disguise.

As conventioneers, you may expect to attend various political fundraisers in Rhode Island, but that's not what they're called here. They're "times." As in, "We're having a time for the mayor." When you get there, don't expect a speech. We prefer to roast.

Speaking of mayors, another Rhode Island distinction is that our most well-known politician is currently outside our borders serving a five-year term in the aftermath of multiple four-year terms in City Hall, but that's a longer story.

Moving on, you may find yourself thrown by the local food. It's, well, different.

Take Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots. I know, it's geographically in Massachusetts, but we consider it part of Rhode Island, in the same way we consider Seekonk, Mass., part of us because we shop there. When your whole state is only 40 by 60 miles -- the size of a Texas ranch, a Georgia county or a breakaway Arctic iceberg -- you tend to claim any features that are in your orbit.

So Gillette is spiritually part of Rhode Island, and the proof is that in addition to the usual burgers and dogs sold there, you can get fried clam strips and lobster rolls. Try ordering those while watching a Titans game at The Coliseum in Nashville. The good Lord probably did not intend for football fans to be eating clam strips while watching an NFL kickoff, but this is Rhode Island, so get used to it.

Speaking of clams, you know how Eskimos have about 30 words for snow? We're just as serious about clams. You don't just order them; you have to specify what kind: Littlenecks, cherrystones, quahogs, stuffies, steamers, the list goes on. We're big on cakes, too. Griddle cakes, cheesecakes, jonnycakes and clam cakes. Actually, clam cakes aren't cakes at all, they're fritters, but we like to refer to things as cakes.

We're so serious about local food we even name our edifices after it, such as Providence's main amphitheater. It's not called the Bank of America Center, or the GTECH Center, or the CVS Center. It's the Dunkin' Donuts Center; "The Dunk," for short.

This is not happenstance. People in Rhode Island take their doughnuts seriously. There are doughnut shops in every neighborhood, and demographers predict that by 2025, there will be four at every Rhode Island intersection, one per corner. One theory is that people in this state don't like to drive more than five minutes for necessities, and a chocolate-glazed qualifies.

Or maybe it's coffee that's the necessity. If you want to fit in to Rhode Island, you have to be constantly lugging around a large. No, not a grande -- you go to Seattle for that. Here, except for Brown students from Westchester County who indeed go to Starbucks, it's a Dunkin' Donuts large.

At the same time, if you want to truly embrace local custom, you don't order milk with your coffee. You order coffee with your milk. But that's the kind of Rhode Island sophistication you won't be ready for until you start dipping your fries in vinegar instead of ketchup, and pronouncing vinegar without the "r." We drop R's from the end of all words, chiefly because we need extras to add to the end of words that don't have them, like parka and pasta. Don't ask me why.

Which reminds me: Despite what you've heard about Rhode Island being a center of Italian cuisine, you don't get pasta sauce here. It's gravy. Though grammatically, it needs an "article" before the word, as in: "I'm going to make a gravy."

And don't forget to try our most unique Rhode Island hot dog. Just ask for the brand named after New York.

Before you leave, don't overlook Newport Grand and Lincoln Park, which we particularly want you to patronize since much of our state budget is funded by slots.

Finally, we encourage you to take in the local sights, such as our version of Mount Rushmore, which happens to be an enormous blue termite.

If you get lost and confused while driving, be assured no Rhode Islander will ever honk at you, as we prefer hand gestures.

It was great having you.

Enjoy the highway construction on your way out.

From The Providence Journal

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no? *ducks and hides*

Part of the clam shack trinity (stuffies, clam cakes, chowder). A stuffie is bread stuffing (bread crumbs, onions, spices) mixed with chopped clams and baked in a clam shell. They can range from relatively spicy to kind of bland. The closest purveyor in our neighborhood would probably be Carrie's on the corner of Douglas and Branch Aves. Almost any place that serves Friday Fish and Chips would serve stuffies. In addition, many bar and tavern type place will offer them as an app.

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Part of the clam shack trinity (stuffies, clam cakes, chowder). A stuffie is bread stuffing (bread crumbs, onions, spices) mixed with chopped clams and baked in a clam shell. They can range from relatively spicy to kind of bland. The closest purveyor in our neighborhood would probably be Carrie's on the corner of Douglas and Branch Aves. Almost any place that serves Friday Fish and Chips would serve stuffies. In addition, many bar and tavern type place will offer them as an app.

oh yeah... i knew that (and forgot it). it's called a stuffed clam where i come from. :P

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it's called a stuffed clam where i come from. :P

It's called a stuffed quahog where I come from.

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Okay I need some lingo help from some RI gurus.

I know about the whole "extra extra" thing at DD and it irritates the hell out of me for its sheer linguistic laziness.

I was stumped yesterday as I heard this being brought to a new level. A woman behind me in the drive thru asked for the following:

Two medium coffees. One "Extrah Sugah, Regulah Cream, Extra Extra" One "Regulah Sugah, Extrah Cream, Extrah Extrah"

Now, I was simply stumped by the "Extrah Extrahs" attached to the end of this order. What are those referring to seeing as she specified the amount of sugar and cream previosuly in the order?

The lady at the other end of the speaker did not seem to have a problem understanding it but she may not have registered it anyway.

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Okay I need some lingo help from some RI gurus.

I know about the whole "extra extra" thing at DD and it irritates the hell out of me for its sheer linguistic laziness.

I was stumped yesterday as I heard this being brought to a new level. A woman behind me in the drive thru asked for the following:

Two medium coffees. One "Extrah Sugah, Regulah Cream, Extra Extra" One "Regulah Sugah, Extrah Cream, Extrah Extrah"

Now, I was simply stumped by the "Extrah Extrahs" attached to the end of this order. What are those referring to seeing as she specified the amount of sugar and cream previosuly in the order?

The lady at the other end of the speaker did not seem to have a problem understanding it but she may not have registered it anyway.

Perhaps it was some sort of Rho-D'island specific form of tourettes?

EXTRAH!!

I briefly worked counter at a Honey Dew, and that order would have thrown me for a loop...

Liam

EXTRAH!!

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Okay I need some lingo help from some RI gurus.

I know about the whole "extra extra" thing at DD and it irritates the hell out of me for its sheer linguistic laziness.

I was stumped yesterday as I heard this being brought to a new level. A woman behind me in the drive thru asked for the following:

Two medium coffees. One "Extrah Sugah, Regulah Cream, Extra Extra" One "Regulah Sugah, Extrah Cream, Extrah Extrah"

Now, I was simply stumped by the "Extrah Extrahs" attached to the end of this order. What are those referring to seeing as she specified the amount of sugar and cream previosuly in the order?

The lady at the other end of the speaker did not seem to have a problem understanding it but she may not have registered it anyway.

what is extra extra? extra cream, extra sugar?

my fiancee usually has a problem when she orders coffee and they don't give her enough... maybe she should just order it "extra extra"...

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what is extra extra? extra cream, extra sugar?

my fiancee usually has a problem when she orders coffee and they don't give her enough... maybe she should just order it "extra extra"...

yep, extra cream, extra sugar.

Dont have her order it that way! You are only encouraging the dumbing down of speech. :)

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yep, extra cream, extra sugar.

Dont have her order it that way! You are only encouraging the dumbing down of speech. :)

she's gotta learn to be a rhode islandah

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She probly wanted a sh!tload of cream or something. I'm surprised some people don't just skip the whole coffee part and just order a cup of cream mixed with sugar.

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She probly wanted a sh!tload of cream or something. I'm surprised some people don't just skip the whole coffee part and just order a cup of cream mixed with sugar.

that's the best when they do that with the coolata. lots of cream and sugar and a little coffee... mmmmmm.. :w00t:

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She probly wanted a sh!tload of cream or something. I'm surprised some people don't just skip the whole coffee part and just order a cup of cream mixed with sugar.

Heh, thats what my wife said. "Does she actually think she is drinking a coffee?"

Have a little coffee with your cream/sugar!

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Weird, what's the point if you're putting all that stuff in it? I like to actually taste my coffee, no additives please. The lady should just pop a caffeine pill and drink a glass of half & half.

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Weird, what's the point if you're putting all that stuff in it? I like to actually taste my coffee, no additives please. The lady should just pop a caffeine pill and drink a glass of half & half.

i'm not a fan of coffee, but i like it super light and super sweet (kind of like coffee ice cream).

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Tim Horton's medium milk & 2 splenda......I'm now addicted...way better coffee than DD and cheaper...they also stir their contents...now if they can only open one up where I'm moving to...It figures that I'm leaving and the one on Douglas just opened up...

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Black. No sugar. Otherwise, it just isn't coffee.

That's how I see it. I'm weird in that I like to taste what I'm eating. I rarely add butter, salt, pepper to dishes where my father adds those almost like a reflex. He'll do it before he even tasted it, very bizarre.

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I'm so happy to be back in New England and be able to just order a regulah. Dunkin Donuts was the worst part of living in New York (I actually avoided DD like the plague in New York). New Yorkers by and large drink coffee with milk and sugar, so I couldn't order a regulah. I'm not so lazy that I had a problem saying "cream and sugar" but more than half the time when I said "cream and sugar" they'd still make it with milk. And the people in Dunkin Dounts in New York could not brew or cream and sugar an ice coffee to save their lives. Especially the ones in Flushing, you haven't seen Extrah Extrah until you've ordered an ice coffee with cream and sugar in Flushing.

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