Cuisine of New England

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The American lobster, a favorite ingredient in New England cuisine.

New England cuisine is an American cuisine which originated in the northeastern region of the United States known as New England. It is characterized by extensive use of seafood and dairy products, which results from its historical reliance on its seaports and fishing industry, as well as extensive dairy farming in inland regions. Many of New England's earliest Puritan settlers were from eastern England, where baking foods such as pies, beans, and turkey were more common than frying as was the tradition elsewhere.[1] Two prominent characteristic foodstuffs native to New England are maple syrup and cranberries. The traditional standard starch is potato, though rice has a somewhat increased popularity in modern cooking. Although known for limited spices aside from ground black pepper, parsley and sage are common, with a few Caribbean additions like nutmeg. Due to the reliance on dairy, creams are standard. The favored cooking techniques are stewing and baking.


Union Oyster House (1826) in Boston is the oldest continuously operating restaurant in America

Native American foods and cooking methods such as corn meal johnny cakes, oysters, clam chowder, and New England clam bakes were adopted by early immigrants to New England. Many of New England's earliest Puritan settlers were from eastern England and also brought with them traditions of dairy products and baking pies and other foods. Baked beans, apple pies, baked turkey, and pease porridge became common Yankee dishes, and some are now common nationally during Thanksgiving dinners.[1]

Due to New England's involvement in the Triangle Trade in the 18th century, molasses and rum were common in New England cuisine.[citation needed] Well into the 19th century, molasses from the Caribbean and honey were staple sweeteners for all but the upper class.[citation needed] Prior to Prohibition, some of the finest rum distilleries were located in New England.[citation needed]

Many herbs were uncommon, particularly Mediterranean herbs, which are not hardy in much of New England away from the coast. As a result, most New England dishes do not have much strong seasoning aside from salt and ground black pepper, nor are there many particularly spicy staple items.[citation needed]

Even today, traditional cuisine remains a strong part of New England's identity. Some of its plates are now enjoyed by the entire United States, including clam chowder, baked beans, and homemade ice cream.[citation needed] In the past two centuries, New England cooking was strongly influenced and transformed by Irish Americans, the Portuguese fishermen of coastal New England, and Italian Americans.[citation needed]

The oldest operating restaurant in the United States, the Union Oyster House (1826), is located in Boston.[citation needed]

State dishes and staples[edit]

Connecticut is known for its apizza (particularly the white clam pie), shad and shadbakes, grinders (including the state-based Subway chain), and New Haven's claim as the birthplace of the hamburger sandwich at Louis' Lunch in 1900.[citation needed] Italian-inspired cuisine is dominant in the New Haven area, while southeastern Connecticut relies heavily on the fishing industry.[citation needed] Irish American influences are common in the interior portions of the state, including the Hartford area. Hasty pudding is sometimes found in rural communities, particularly around Thanksgiving.[citation needed]

Maine is known for its lobster. Relatively inexpensive lobster rolls (lobster meat mixed with mayonnaise and other ingredients, served in a grilled hot dog roll) are often available in the summer, particularly on the coast. Northern Maine produces potato crops, second only to Idaho in the United States.[citation needed] Moxie, America's first mass-produced soft drink and the official state soft drink,[citation needed] is known for its strong aftertaste and is found throughout New England.[citation needed] Although originally from New Jersey, wax-wrapped salt water taffy is a popular item sold in tourist areas.[citation needed] Wild blueberries are a common ingredient or garnish, and blueberry pie (when made with wild Maine blueberries) is the official state dessert.[citation needed] Red snappers — natural casing frankfurters colored bright red — are considered the most popular type of hot dog in Maine.[citation needed] The whoopie pie is the official state treat.[citation needed] Finally, the Italian sandwich is popular in Portland and southern Maine—Portland restaurant Amato's claims to have invented the Italian sandwich (specifically, a submarine sandwich made with ham, cheese, tomato, raw peppers, pickles and cheese, served with or without oil, salt and pepper) in 1902. The city of Portland, Maine, known for its numerous nationally renowned restaurants, was ranked as Bon Appétit magazine's "America's Foodiest Small Town" in 2009.[2]

Coastal Massachusetts is known for its clams, haddock, and cranberries, and previously cod.[citation needed] Boston is known for, among other things, baked beans (hence the nickname "Beantown"), bulkie rolls, and various pastries. Hot roast beef sandwiches served with a sweet barbecue sauce and usually on an onion roll is popular in Boston's surrounding area. The North Shore area is locally known for its roast beef establishments, which slice tender roast beef extremely thin. Apples are grown commercially throughout the Commonwealth.[3] Because of the landlocked, hilly terrain[4] common plant foods in Massachusetts are similar to those of interior northern New England- including potatoes,[5] maple syrup,[6] and wild blueberries. Dairy production is also prominent in this central and western area.[7] Cuisine in western Massachusetts had similar immigrant influences as the coastal regions, though historically strong Eastern European populations instilled kielbasa and pierogi as common dishes.[8][9]

Southern New Hampshire cuisine is similar to that of the Boston area, featuring fish, shellfish and local apples. As with Maine and Vermont, French-Canadian dishes are popular, including tourtière, which is traditionally served on Christmas Eve, and poutine. Corn chowder, which is similar to clam chowder but with corn and bacon replacing the clams, is also common. Portsmouth is known for its orange cake.[10][11]

Rhode Island and bordering Bristol County, Massachusetts are known for Rhode Island clam chowder (clear chowder), quahog (hard clams), johnny cakes, coffee milk, celery salt, milkshakes known as "cabinets" (called "frappes[disambiguation needed]" elsewhere in New England), grinders, pizza strips, clam cakes, the chow mein sandwich, and Del's Frozen Lemonade. Another food item popular in Rhode Island and southern Massachusetts is called a "hot wiener" or "New York System wiener," although it is unknown in New York (including Coney Island).[citation needed] This food consists of a wiener (similar to a hot dog but skinnier and more orange in color) on a steamed roll with meat sauce and, often, mustard and raw onions ("all the way") Also celery salt.[clarification needed] Portuguese influences are becoming increasingly popular in the region, with Italian cooking already long established.[citation needed] The coastal communities and islands, including Block Island, offer more colonial New England fare than the more recent immigrant-influenced varieties found around the Providence area.[citation needed]

Vermont produces Cheddar cheese and other dairy products. It is known in and outside of New England for its maple syrup. Maple syrup is used as an ingredient in some Vermont dishes, including baked beans. Rhubarb pie is a common dessert and has been combined with strawberries in late spring.

Typical foods[edit]

New England also has its own food language. In New England, hot and cold sandwiches in elongated rolls are called subs or grinders, and in still some sections of Greater Boston as Spukkies.[citation needed] This is opposed to the appellations hoagies or heroes in other sections of the country. Sub is short for submarine sandwich, for which Boston, Massachusetts is one of three main claimants for inventing.[14] In Maine, the Italian sandwich—a variation specifically made up of ham or salami, cheese, peppers, pickles, tomatoes and optional oil—is popular, though usually kept distinct from other subs.

New England hot dog rolls are split on top instead of on the side, and have a more rectangular shape. While overall smaller, when separated they have a larger soft surface area because of the way they are baked which allows for buttering and toasting, which are also commonly used for convenient serving of seafood like lobster or fried clams. Regional bread makers often differentiate between these and the more traditional-style American hot dog rolls by referring to the New England variation as "Frankfurt Rolls" on packaging, with both commonly available next to each other on store shelves (though when purchasing a cooked hot dog or seafood "roll" from a restaurant or food stand, the Frankfurt style is almost exclusively used).[15]

New England has many local lagers and ales. Notable examples include Samuel Adams of the Boston Beer Company in Boston (even though the recipe for the beer does not come from New England); Sea Dog Brewing Company of Bangor; Shipyard Brewing Company of Portland; and Smuttynose Brewing Company of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Vermont-based Woodchuck Draft Cider is a popular alcoholic cider.

Notable food and drink companies[edit]




New Hampshire[edit]

Rhode Island[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b David Hackett Fischer, Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America (Oxford University Press US, 1991) 30-50 [1]
  2. ^ "America's Foodiest Small Town". 
  3. ^ "Pick-Your-Own Apple Orchards". Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources. 
  4. ^ "Massachusetts Elevation (Topographic) Data (2005)". Massachusetts Office of Geographic Information. 
  5. ^ "Massachusetts Potato Farm Search". Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture. 
  6. ^ "Map of Sugarhouse Locations". Massachusetts Maple Producers Association. 
  7. ^ Dairy Task Force Report to the Legislature, Massachusetts Dairy Task Force, November 9, 2007, p. 23 
  8. ^ Polish Food in the Pioneer Valley: Golumbkis, pierogis, kielbasa — Oh My, Daily Hampshire Gazette, March 30, 2007 
  9. ^ Woll, Kris. "Through the City, To These Fields: Eastern European Immigration". Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association. 
  10. ^ Donovan, Mary; Hatrak, Amy; Mills, Francis; and Shull, Elizabeth. (1975). The Thirteen Colonies Cookbook. Montclair, NJ: Montclair Historical Society. (Note: Cites St. John's Parish Cookbook as source of the recipe -- if you can verify/cite, please do).
  11. ^ Olver, Lynn. (2013). Traditional state foods & recipes. The Food Timeline. Retrieved 7 October 2013 from
  12. ^ Pillsbury recipe
  13. ^ Betty Crocker recipe
  14. ^ Kelley, Walt. What They Never Told You About Boston (or What They Did That Were Lies). Camden, Maine: Down East Books, 1993.
  15. ^ Country Kitchen Breads

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]