|Photo: image415, flickr
Rhode Island is like a gourmet Galapagos, a tiny patch of water-hemmed land that's evolved a separate culture from its surroundings. There are state-specific brands like Del's Lemonade and Autocrat Coffee Syrup, Rhody recipes for jonnycakes and stuffies and even localized tweaks on American staples; only in Rhode Island could clear clam chowder come with an add-to-taste jug of heavy cream to placate visiting Bostonians.
Given locals' culinary passion, it's no wonder this is where the diner was invented by Walter Scott in 1872, who piled up a horse-drawn wagon with pies and sandwiches and stationed it in front of the Providence Journal offices.
How did the smallest state in the union -- barely 1,000 square miles of land -- develop such aggressive, idiosyncratic tastes? In part, thanks to its origins.
"We have this very independent spirit; it's historic, going right back to Williams," explains Linda Beaulieu, author of "The Providence and Rhode Island Cookbook." Indeed, Roger Williams founded the outpost as a rebellion against the Massachusetts Bay Colony's hardline conformism, and that rebellious independence has ricocheted down through Rhode Island's history -- and menus. "Chain restaurants don't do well here at all. In fact a year or two ago, the Red Lobster closed -- people just didn't support it."
Stuffies and quahogs, anyone? Explore more of Rhode Island's culinary offerings after the jump.