I departed Maine in 1962 at the age of 18. I was glad to go.

Of course, over the years I’ve returned to visit family and friends. Are there certain foods that I miss from back home? Yup. Some.

It’s strange thinking back. I learned that perhaps I was fortunate that my mother wasn’t a “good cook.” By that, I mean that I can eat about anything. I can eat warm cardboard if I have a good mustard.

I was one of a few who was actually excited about Army chow and mess hall food. I always hated the waiting lines, but the food itself almost always was pleasing to me.

Anyway, you can keep your Maine lobster. I never cared for it. It’s costly and messy. Seafood in general just isn’t on the top of my favorites list. I do like fried clams a lot, and I enjoy a good fish fry.

Pot roast is about as good as anything I remember. That’s an inexpensive cut of beef, carrots, potatoes and onions cooked all day. My mom was good with that.

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I always liked baked beans and still do, but you just can’t get brown bread anywhere west of the Mississippi. I try to get a few cans to bring back when I visit.

I don’t know what happened to MacIntosh apples. I think they just aren’t as pretty as Galas or Fijis, though I’ll eat an ugly Mac anytime. It’s the best taste.

Old Orchard Beach French fried potatoes, soggy with vinegar, are something I seek out. I remember the old Pier. A slice of pizza served out of a little window beach concession is just great.

I don’t think they even make olive butter anymore. It came in a jar and was fantastic spread on crackers.

We used to get red hot dogs from Plummer’s Store in Buxton for family cookouts.

Nothing like those in the West.

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But if I were ever on death row – let’s say for murdering an obnoxious Yankee fan (just kidding) – here is what I would ask the warden for: an Italian sandwich from Amato’s. I just think they’re the greatest. Nothing like that anywhere else.

I’ve tried to duplicate the ingredients at other sandwich shops, but it’s never the same.

There’s something about the bread or the pickles or the oil – I don’t know. The thing is that when I do get to Maine, I eat so many of them that I get overload.

However, the warden wouldn’t get off quite that easy. He would have to seek out my sister Ann and have her make an apple pie with – well, you guessed it – MacIntosh apples, and I would want each slice topped with extra-sharp melted cheddar cheese. Man oh man.

For dinner tonight, I’m going to open a can of New England clam chowder, sprinkle on just a touch of cayenne pepper for a little Western personality and top it with oyster crackers (which are also hard to find here). Time to plan a trip.

— Special to the Telegram


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