Here on the south entablature are the words from our Royal Charter granted by King Charles starting our “lively experiment” – if he had any idea it would lead to such rebelliousness in the future he no doubt would have had second thoughts.
Johnny Johnnie Cake – A 1937 state regulation rules that if white flint corn is grown and stone ground within the borders of Rhode Island then that corn meal is entitled to the name Jonnycake. All other meal being somehow deficient in complying with the edict shall be known by the addition of the letter “H” – Johnnycake. It is Rhode Island’s version of the Scarlet Letter. If that isn’t confusing enough such a little place should have one one way to make the signature dish – but the are two camps those who make East Bay Jonnycakes and those who prefer West Bay Johnnycakes. The east are made thin and lacey with milk in the batter – the West made with water are thick and crispy outside soft in the center. There are all kinds of rules about not using syrup and butter but they are best ignored. Try them if you can find them.
More grist for the mill – The colonists learned about corn and cornmeal from the Native Americans. A close cousin of the Jonnycake is the Clamcake. This delicious ball of deep fried corn meal is lovingly referred to as a sinker. After eating three or four with a bowl of chowda you will understand. Clamcakes are made from a cornmeal batter to which chopped clams have been added all too often parsimoniously. Spoonfuls of the batter are deep fried to golden perfection. They are best served with chowder (chowda) which comes in three varities – Creamy because of the milk or cream added to it, Red – because of the tomato added to it or Clear (Johnntrue Rhode Island) – which stays pure by adding nothing to the salty chowder broth. If you would like to start an arguement with a Rhode Islander suggest talking about the Yankees and Red Sox over a meal of East or West Bay Jo(h)nnycakes with Chowda and Clamcakes (Creamy, Clear, Red) followed by Saugys or Hot Weiners while deciding whether to drink coffee milk, Del’s Lemonade or a Narragansett Lager – it should make for a full on brouhaha. Bon Apetit! By the way indegestion is oft refered to as agita – as in ‘you are giving me agita.’ Another word not appropriate to a family publication is often added before -agita.