On night two of the Democratic National Convention, a charming, traveling state roll call proved to be one of the best pandemic-induced adjustments that the convention organizers could have made. A mix of real people speaking from their home states and territories expressed both their grievances and their aspirations for the country moving forward; their testimonies, along with some great de facto sight-seeing, turned the usually chaotic affair into an endearing glimpse into the diversity of this massive country of ours. But there’s one state I can’t stop thinking about: Rhode Island.
Look, I’ve never visited the tiniest state of our union. All I know about Rhode Island is that it’s home to Brown, RISD, a good punk band, and Family Guy. But apparently it is also home to some very good calamari?
During Rhode Island’s delegation vote video, the state’s Democratic party chairman, Joseph M. McNamara, stood on a beach alongside a masked chef wearing all black. The chef—a man named John Bordieri who presides as the executive chef at a restaurant called Iggy’s—was holding a platter of calamari, the state’s official appetizer.
From The Washington Post:
“Our state appetizer, calamari, is available in all 50 states,” McNamara said, as a masked chef in a black apron silently held up a platter with crispy rings of breaded seafood in its traditional local preparation: slathered in garlic, parsley, and sliced cherry peppers.
If that sales pitch was not the outright victor of Tuesday’s roll-call video montage, it was certainly the most irreverent. Or, at least, the most characteristically Rhode Island way to make an appearance on a prime-time national stage.
Hell, it worked! I want calamari now, and maybe someday I’ll hit up Rhode Island to get some. But I’m mostly fascinated by Chef Bordieri, who, as Atossa Abrahamian of The Nation noted, looked like an executioner.
Despite participating in Biden’s nomination process, Bordieri isn’t even sure if he’ll vote for Biden. “Everything to me is always the same,” he told the Washington Post. “They say they’re going to change health plans, the economy, the workforce... The only thing that really changes is the price of things going up, and all these rich people making more money.”
Still, he couldn’t pass up on an opportunity to showcase his calamari:
But what he is convinced of is that Rhode Island calamari is too good not to share with the rest of the country. Iggy’s, which started out as a small oceanfront shack, normally serves between 300 and 500 pounds of calamari a week, adding banana peppers, and swapping in fresh garlic and olive oil for garlic butter.
“We have a very good product. It’s always fresh, and it’s pretty much the best sauce we serve,” he said. “It’s a great flavor. ... Where else would you go but the beach in Rhode Island for a restaurant serving calamari?”