Rhode Island Is The Only State With An Official Appetizer

States in the U.S. may all be connected, but they differ in many ways. Each state has its own nickname, flag, tree, and other symbols and unique offerings. For example, the state bird of Pennsylvania is the Ruffed Grouse, according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, and the Louisiana state dog is the Catahoula Leopard Dog, per State Symbols USA. States also have designated flowers, like the Orange Blossom in Florida, per the Florida Department of State, and even gems, such as the benitoite in California, per the California Department of Conservation.

Of course, some states have distinct cuisine, like Cajun and Creole foods in Louisiana and PA Dutch food in Pennsylvania. But do states actually have designated, official foods or recipes? They do. Per the Takeout, Oklahoma has a whole state meal consisting of BBQ Pork, fried okra, corn, and more. New York state even has a designated muffin, the apple muffin. But only one state on the list has its own official appetizer.

Calamari is big business in Rhode Island

The Island Institute says Rhode Island, the country's smallest state, has the eastern seaboard's largest squid-fishing fleet. According to Rhode Island Government, this makes sense because the state is known as The Ocean state due to its 400 miles of coastline. In 2014, Rhode Island honored that by naming one fried dish its official appetizer — fried calamari. Calamari is squid, for those who have never had it. Per local Rhode Island calamari-centric food service provider and retailer The Town Dock, the bill that was put forth to make this official honors not only the dish's popularity in the state but also acknowledges the importance of the squid industry to Rhode Island's economy.

The Providence Journal claims that Cornell University researchers found more pounds of squid are brought to shore in Rhode Island than any other seafood, making it "the squid capital of the world."  According to Rhode Island Monthly, nearly 20.5 million pounds of squid were caught in 2020.

Other Rhode Island foods to try

The Takeout reports that Rhode Island also has a state beverage, coffee milk, which is milk with coffee syrup, so the state has a lot of pride in its local cuisine and recipes. According to Rhode Island Monthly, other unique foods in the state include cold pizza strips and coffee cabinets — or creamy milkshakes made with coffee. And if you are wondering– yes, there is an official recipe for Rhode Island fried calamari, according to PBS. It includes deep frying the squid tentacles in buttermilk batter seasoned with garlic and cherry peppers.

If deep-frying calamari isn't your thing, don't worry. There are many different ways to make it, such as sautéing or baking it. Calamari can be added to soups, stews, and pasta dishes, but however you choose to cook it, make sure you don't overcook the squid because it can become tough and chewy.