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May 9, 2008

The tastes of Maine

I’ve logged more than 500 miles in 2 days on assignment checking out Maine eateries that have stood the test of time. While I work on this story (which should be in the magazine later this summer), here are a few rules for a Maine food road trip:

  • Pace yourself. Do not start out with a breakfast sandwich at the airport in Baltimore. You may think you are hungry, but it will likely be overwhelmingly disappointing and take up unnecessary space in your stomach. Especially when the next meal you are faced with involves the option for amazing corn muffins.
  • Take a map. Even if you lived in Maine for 18 years and your family has lived in the state your entire life — living in another state for eight years where driving 5 miles takes 45 minutes twists your sense of time-distance to an unrecognizable state.
  • Bring your own soundtrack, because where you’re going, the radio becomes very limited. Mine so far has been: Miles Davis, Dave Matthews, Stevie Wonder, Indigo Girls, Springsteen & Wilco.
  • Watch your fuel. If gas is offered to you by the car rental agency at $3.55 per gallon — buy as much as you can — especially when "on the street" you will not see it below $3.68 per gallon for 2 days. Also, ask if you can buy extra to sell on the side of the road when you are running low on funds due to overconsumption of blueberry pie. Note: This is not recommended, as it is: 1) dangerous, and 2) who wants to drive around in a car that smells like gas?
  • Pay attention. Don’t check your BlackBerry while driving down a road with moose warning signs. This is guaranteed to bring moose out of the woods.
  • Get out of the car and move around. Walking 100 yards down Route 1 looking for a diner does not constitute exercise when you are eating 4 (large) meals a day. 
  • Remember, it’s May in Maine. It may be 80 degrees today, but tomorrow it will be 40 and raining. Eat outside if you can an enjoy it while it lasts.
  • If it looks good, try it. The next place may not have Hermits (nutmeg! cinnamon! raisins!). What is wrong with me!?)
  • Talk with everyone. From owners to bussers, everyone has a story and it’s always much more interesting than yours.
  • Eat at the counter. Ask what other people are eating. Eat that. And bring some home for family.

Jessica Strelitz is a contributing writer to Maine Food & Lifestyle magazine.

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