Old New England
As mentioned in my last post, we visited New England last month and spent a few days in Rhode Island. Looked at the famous mansions of Newport, poked around Providence, admired the ocean cliffs, etc.
But you know what I find myself thinking about? The Newport Creamery.
You know why? Nostalgia.
I grew up in New England — in Massachusetts, in Billerica and Bedford. Naturally, like any kid, I thought that what I grew up with was normal; it wasn’t until I moved away that I began to realize what was standard American, and what was specifically New Englander fare. It took even longer before I began to miss the New England stuff.
And some of it I still didn’t necessarily realize was New England specific; I thought it was just old-fashioned.
But eating at the Newport Creamery brought back a lot of memories, and a realization that some of that stuff is unique to New England.
When I was a kid, we used to eat at Friendly Ice Cream sometimes. That’s the chain that later became Friendly’s, but in my youth it was Friendly Ice Cream, no apostrophe S, and it was still pretty local — they didn’t get outside New England at all, and were mostly just in Massachusetts. For 95 cents you could get a cheeseburger and a frappe — that’s the New England name for what most of the country calls a milk shake; it’s one syllable, “frap,” not the same as the whipped-fruit thing called a “frappé.” And the cheeseburger would be on butter-grilled toast, not a bun.
But then the chain started expanding, they changed the name to “Friendly’s” and updated the menu, and the burgers were on buns…
Getting sandwiches on butter-grilled toast — that wasn’t just Friendly. There were a lot of places that did that when I was a kid.
Turns out there still are — in New England. It’s not so much old-fashioned as regional.
And the Newport Creamery of today has almost exactly the same menu that Friendly had fifty years ago. Not at the same prices, of course, but wow, everything tasted just the way I remembered the food at Friendly.
So for the past month I’ve been thinking about that food, and wishing there was some way to get it here in Maryland.