Sara eats shellfish by the seashore in Massachusetts
By: Carah Jones
When asked how to describe a typical meal in Nantucket, Massachusetts, my college roommate answered, “perfect oysters you don’t even need a cracker or sauce to go with.” Perfecting oysters has been a common practice for centuries in states of the northwestern region, on account of its accessibility to the shore of the Atlantic Ocean.
Two weeks ago, I shared my personal insight on the food culture of western states such as Montana, which was home to me for three months last summer. This week, I want to again explore the unique food sources that are indeginous to different regions of our country.
Since my roommate from Athens, Sara Katherine Mitchell, is currently working and living in Massachusetts, she has been sharing some incredible meals with me almost daily. This sparked my interest in the nautical foods that are popular in the northeastern region of the United States. Mitchell has sent mouthwatering pictures of many lobster themed meals, countless shrimp cocktails, and obviously, the occasional plate of raw oysters.
Almost similar to the meals I would typically order while visiting the eastern coast of Georgia or South Carolina, the northern coast is famous for its seafood variety. Cape Cod, a classic maritime themed beach town in the southern coast of Massachusetts, was even named after the abundance of cod fish in its surrounding waters.
In addition to a wealth of shellfish, the northeastern coast is plentiful in many fruits, especially cranberries. Mitchell described the fruit and vegetables in Nantucket as “always stuffed with greatness.”
According to Mitchell, Bartlett’s Farm, a family owned farm located in Nantucket, is the main local producer of fruits and vegetables for the town. There, consumers can buy regular produce, hot meals, or natural foods with a twist. Mitchell says that many times, she will buy fruits and vegetables that are stuffed with cheeses or fresh herbs, typically lavender, mint, and basil.
If you are interested in seeing the fun options offered at Bartlett’s Farm, they have a website where you can view their gardens, market, and pickup menu. You can find them at bartlettsfarm.com.
While discussing the unique food culture of this geographical region, it is important to give credit where credit is due. If it weren’t for the Native American tribes that had originally occupied the northeastern coastal region, the European settlers wouldn’t have even known how to catch lobsters and clams. The indigenous people of the northeastern land area kindly taught those settlers their skilled crafts, which they had time to perfect during the hundreds of years they lived there.
Not only did the Native Americans teach the New England settlers how to hunt, fish, and farm, they also gave settlers recipes for delicious food items we still enjoy today, such as clam chowder and maple syrup.
“What I love most about Nantucket is that people are brought together by the delicious food,” said Mitchell. “Sitting outside at the dinner table, hearing the waves crash as the sun sets, and feasting on today’s fresh picks or catches truly makes my experience here remarkable.”