Calamari became the official appetizer of Rhode Island in 2014
A platter of battered and fried squid was dubbed the unofficial winner of the Democratic National Convention on social media Tuesday night after Rhode Island’s Democratic Party chairman delivered his vote alongside a chef holding up the seafood dish during the virtual roll call.
The Ocean State’s Rep. Joseph McNamara spoke behind Iggy’s Boardwalk, a staple seafood eatery on Oakland Beach in Warwick, where he was joined by the restaurant’s executive chef John Bordieri. Bordieri was holding up a platter of Rhode Island-style calamari, typically made with banana peppers and olive oil dressing.
“My phone has been blowing up,” Bordieri, 54, from Cranston, R.I., told FOX News Wednesday of the squid dish trending around the Internet Tuesday night. He’s been cooking up a storm ever since.
“We marinate our peppers, it’s all fresh. It has a little bite to it,” he said.
The $12 appetizer’s 30 seconds of fame is already helping the restaurant net in more profit after being closed down for three months between March and June as result of the coronavirus.
Bordieri says the restaurant now serves close to 500 pounds of calamari per week, and as of Wednesday morning, he was already getting dozens of orders for his signature spicy dish from bipartisan food fans.
McNamara drew on the state dish to showcase the comeback of Rhode Island’s fishing industry amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Rhode Island, the Ocean State, where our restaurant and fishing industry has been decimated by this pandemic, are lucky to have a governor, Gina Raimondo, whose program lets our fishermen sell their catches directly to the public. And our state appetizer, calamari, is available in all 50 states,” McNamara said.
Raimondo implemented a program to allow fishermen to sell their catches directly to consumers, fish markets and restaurants instead of exclusively to wholesalers, seeing as many restaurants were forced to close during the pandemic, and were requesting less seafood inventory as a result.
“The Calamari Comeback State of Rhode Island casts one vote for Bernie Sanders and 34 votes for the next president, Joe Biden,” McNamara added.
Calamari became the official appetizer of Rhode Island in 2014 to promote the state’s expansive squid fishing and its impact on the state’s restaurant and tourism industries.
Social media instantly devoured the appetizing roll call with the hashtags #Calamari and #RhodeIsland trending shortly afterward, with eaters both confused and enthused by the 30-second spot, which turned out to be the ultimate free publicity tool for Iggy’s.
Squid fans flooded Bordieri’s social media accounts, prompting his girlfriend to create a new Twitter account for him called @CalamariNinja the nickname he acquired after appearing in the DNC video clad in an all-black chef’s jacket, gloves, mask and chef’s hat.
“So far Rhode Island’s use of its DNC state roll call primarily as an opportunity to hawk calamari is the most on-brand of all the states and territories,” one user tweeted.
“OMG Rhode Island calamari just won the whole election,” another user tweeted out.
Others quipped they wanted to drive to Rhode Island to get a taste of the fresh catch.
While the seafood skeptical brought renewed attention to Rhode Island-style calamari, some traditionalists say less is more when it comes to tossing in peppers and other spices with the fried squid.
“It’s a little on the spicy side, that’s what Rhode Island-style calamari is. If you like spicy food it’s tasty,” said Jason Kaplan, a New York City-based owner of restaurant consultancy JK Consulting, who has lived in Rhode Island and dabbled in his fair share of New England seafood.
“Personally, I think it covers up the flavor of the seafood. I prefer straight marinara,” Kaplan said.
By Jeanette Settembre | Fox News
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