Calamari Becomes The Ocean State's Official Appetizer

Jun 28, 2014

Calamari is now Rhode Island’s official state appetizer. At the signing ceremony, Governor Lincoln Chaffee said this bill is an important way to support Rhode Island’s fishing industry, despite the pushback he got for it.

Chafee said fishermen frequently told him, “We want our calamari bill!”

“And I said to myself, you know [despite] all the cynicism about, ‘Why  are you doing this with an appetizer when there are so many more important things to do?’ I went back to Rep. McNamara and Sen. Sosnowski and I said, ‘Let’s get that calamari bill. The fisherman want it!’”

According to Chafee, Rhode Island’s 127 squid vessels caught 23 million pounds of squid last year. That’s nearly half of the total squid caught on the East Coast. The governor and supporters of this bill hope making calamari the official state appetizer will boost the Ocean State’s tourism and restaurant industries.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee will sign into law Friday a bill making calamari the state’s official appetizer. The signing will take place on Narragansett’s town dock.

Bill sponsor, Rep. Joseph McNamara says the whole point is to promote one of Rhode Island’s tastier assets; squid caught right off the coast. He says restaurants across the country know how good the squid is here, and recounts a conversation he had at a Seattle restaurant.

“I just happened to be sitting next to an international purveyor of seafood who said that Rhode Island squid, calamari, has three things that everyone is looking for: it’s fresh, local and sustainable,” said McNamara.

In his bill, McNamara noted that Rhode Island has the largest squid fleet on the East Coast.

Editor's Note: this post has been updated.

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