Finneran: My Cultural Appropriations

Friday, April 07, 2017
Tom Finneran, GoLocalProv MINDSETTERâ„¢

Tom Finneran
It’s hard to keep up with the various idiocies of our age.

I suppose a vivid imagination helps the multitude of fools who see America as a cauldron of bigotry and hate. That, and an unearned but very vocal righteousness seems to be the fuel of the fools.

Take the charge of “cultural appropriation”, wielded as an accusation and a demand that certain races and ethnicities stop ripping off “identities” associated with other races and ethnicities. That such accusations and demands come from the same crowd that conveniently embraces diversity when it suits their purposes puts the entire matter of “cultural appropriation” into bizarro land. Silly ol’ me—all along I thought that listening to and learning from neighbors, colleagues, and acquaintances of other regions and races was the gold standard of social harmony. If imitation is the highest form of flattery, then my many instances of “cultural appropriation” are tributes to the various manners and customs of those races and ethnicities. Am I not allowed to borrow what I see? What I enjoy? What I admire?

The best short answer of course is to tell one’s accusers to drop dead. Those two words are a poetic salute to America’s precious freedoms as well as an embrace of the glories of America’s melting pot.

Here then are two of my many cultural appropriations, happily admitted and proudly practiced on an almost daily basis: 

ITALIAN FOOD: I choose it as often as possible. If I was restricted to my own culture--Irish—I’d probably die of starvation. PBS can certainly try to dress up Irish cuisine by way of fresh fish and a host with an Irish brogue. But let’s be honest here, nothing compares to the wonders of Italian food. When was the last time you saw an Irish restaurant? When was the last time your spouse said “let’s go Irish tonight”? On the other hand, Italian restaurants abound, and they flourish all over the world. Watch Nick Stellino or Lidia Bastianich on PBS and you’ll fall in love with their flair and their passion for great food. Nor can the Italians be matched for planning the next meal while still eating the current masterpiece. The Italians are in a league of their own.

SOUL FOOD: I miss Mrs. Jones’ Soul Food Restaurant in Dorchester. George and Cheryl were great cooks and wonderful hosts. And they introduced me to the wonders of chicken, catfish, cornbread, greens, black-eyed peas, and other delights. Delicious. 

Over time, Cheryl’s health waned and the restaurant business proved particularly exhausting. She needed George’s attention and care and the restaurant eventually closed its doors. Before closing however, it was a hotbed of cultural appropriation! Sure it had plenty of black patrons, including a couple of New England Patriots. But it had more even more white patrons, people who loved George and Cheryl and the magic they performed in the kitchen. All those white folks were not going to be denied their pleasures. Such are the sins of the appropriators.

The latest rage of the thought and culture police is hoop earrings. I kid you not. Should a white girl wear hoop earrings (or certain lipstick or eyeliner), she is charged with “stealing” from a unique culture, a grave offense in today’s deranged America. Beyond the sheer silliness of claiming clothes and certain fashions as belonging exclusively to a single race or ethnicity, the adult in me asks the questions---Don’t you have anything more important to do? Is there some academic deficiency you might want to address? Do your parents know that you have way too much time on your hands? Do you know why people with functional brains and serious responsibilities don’t take you seriously? 

I’m just asking---before I go out to appropriate some more of America’s blessings.

Tom Finneran is the former Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, served as the head the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, and was a longstanding radio voice in Boston radio.

  • Veal Parm - Capriccio

    2 Pine Street, Providence

    The veal is Sautéed, Milk-Fed Scaloppine, Lightly Breaded, Provolone, Marinara, House-Made Ricotta Gnocchi

    Capriccio serves international cuisine with a Northern Italian/Mediterranean accent, artfully prepared with the finest seasonal ingredients. They also serve over 550 bottles of wine.

    However, the veal parm is what you must order.

  • Lemonade - Dels

    Going to Dels is a must, but if you are going to go, make sure to get the lemon flavor. It's the original.

    Dels Lemonade was born in Cranston, Rhode Island in 1948 and has since become a worldwide brand.

  • Old Fashioned Chocolate Covered Donut - Allie's Donuts

    3661 Quaker Lane, North Kingstown

    Donuts certainly aren't lacking anywhere you turn in the state, but if you want to go real Rhode Island, get an old fashioned with chocolate frosting from Allies.

    Allies opened in 1968, and a variety of homemade donuts and is open Monday -Friday from 5 a.m.- 3 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m.

  • Baked Stuff Shrimp - Twin Oaks

    100 Sabra Street, Cranston

    Twin Oaks has all kinds of great food, but their baked stuff shrimp is some of the best that you will have. Five shrimp that are ready to be eaten as is or dump drawn butter all over them and dig in. Either way, Twin Oaks Baked Stuff Shrimp is some of the best you will have.

    Twin Oaks opened in 1933 with only two small private dinning rooms that held only 16 people. Since then, Twin Oaks has grown to six dining rooms and seats 650 people.

    Twin Oaks is open Tuesday-Thursday 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 12 a.m. and Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.

  • Pizza - Caserta Pizzeria 

    121 Spruce Street, Providence 

    If you like Pizza, Caserta Pizzeria is where you have to go. It's quick, easy and really good.

    Caserta Pizzeria has been open since 1953. Caserta offers a casual, kid friend dining room and free parking in their private lot. 

    Caserta is open Sunday – Thursday 9:30 a.m.-10 p.m. and Friday & Saturday 9:30 a.m.-11 p.m.

  • Awful Awful & Grilled Hot Dog - Newport Creamery

    673 Smith Street, Providence

    208 West Main Road, Middletown (the original Newport Creamery)

    Feel free to have anything, but an Awful Awful and grilled hot dog make you real Rhode Island. The clown sundae is a close second. 

    Newport Creamery originally opened in 1940 and has since grown to 11 Rhode Island locations and two Massachusetts locations. 

    Newport Creamery is open Sunday - Thursday from 7 a.m. - 10 p.m. and Friday - Saturday  7 a.m. - 11 p.m.

  • Steak - Capital Grille

    10 Memorial Boulevard Suite 101, Providence

    There are a lot of places in which Providence can take pride in and Capital Grille is high on the list. Capital Grille will serve you some of the best steaks that you will ever eat and some of the best wine that you will ever drink to go with it. 

    Capital Grille was born at Union Station in Providence in 1990 and has since become a national chain. Capital Grille is a fine dining restaurant known for their dry steaks and wine selection of over 350 bottles. 

    The hours are as follows: 

    11:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
    5:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.

    11:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
    5:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m.

    5:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m.

    4:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.

  • Chocolate Cake - Gregg's 

    1303 North Main Street, Providence 

    You have not had chocolate Cake until you have had it from Gregg's Restaurant. The cake has been named the best in Rhode Island for 12 straight years. The cake is a must have for chocolate lovers. 

    Gregg's opened their first restaurant in 1972 in Warwick, Rhode Island and has since opened locations in Providence, East Providence and North Kingstown. 

    The hours of operation are as follows. 

    Monday - Thursday 11:30 a.m. - 11:00 p.m. 
    Friday 11:30 a.m. - 12:00 a.m.
    Saturday 8:00 a.m. - 12:00 a.m.
    Sunday 8:00 a.m. - 11:00 p.m.

  • Hot Weiners - Olneyville NY System 

    18 Plainfield Street, Providence 

    Hot wieners at Olneyville New York System is a Rhode Island must! 

    The first NY System was opened in the late 1930's and moved to it's present location in 1953. NY System was open 24 hours until 1968.  

    Olneyville NY System was given the James Beard Foundation: America's Classics award in 2014.

    The hours are as follows. 

    Mon – Thu: 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 a.m.
    Fri – Sat: 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 a.m.
    Sun: Noon – 2:00 a.m.

  • Clam Cakes - George's of Galilee 

    250 Sand Hill Cove Road, Port of Galilee 

    Enjoy the beautiful views of the Block Island Sound while chowing down on clam cakes at George's of Galilee. 

    George's of Galilee opened in 1948 and offers customers five different dining rooms, two floors and out door dining. Before you go, be sure to check the schedule for live entertainment that is taking place. 

    George's of Galilee is open daily at 11:30 a.m. 

  • Calamari - Luigi's 

    1357 Hartford Avenue, Johnston

    Luigi's has been making calamari since 1976 and while there are plenty of places to get calamari in Rhode Island, Luigi's is the best place to go.  Their calamari is tossed with sliced hot peppers in our garlic butter.

    Luigi's Restaurant opened in 1971 and has served great food at great prices ever since. If you are unable to stick around for dinner, be sure to check out the gourmet express and get dinner to go. 

    The hours are as follows: 

    Tuesday thru Thursday: 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm - Serving Dinner
    Friday and Saturday: 4:00 pm to 10:00 pm - Serving Dinner
    Sunday: 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm - Serving Dinner

  • Sushi - Haruki East

    127 Wayland Ave, Providence 

    Sushi lover? Then get over to Haruki East and dig in to their sushi bar, it is an absolute must do. 

    Haruki East has been a part of Providence for 17 years and continues to provide some of the best sushi in the state.  

    Haruki is an upscale but comfortable restaurant that features a chi-chi bar in one room and a sushi bar lining one side of the dining room. 

    The Hours of operation are as follows: 

    Lunch - 12:00-3:00 PM (Monday-Saturday)
    Dinner - 3:00-10:00 PM (Monday-Thursday)
      3:00-11:00 PM (Friday & Saturday)
      4:30-10:00 PM (Sunday)

  • Chicken Dinner - Wrights Chicken Farm

    84 Inman Road, Harrisville 

    Looking for a good chicken dinner while spending quality time with family and friends? Get over to Wrights Chick Farm and order their chicken dinner, served family style. You will not regret the trip. 

    Wrights farm has been a staple of Rhode Island since 1972 and 50 years later it is still going strong. Wrights is a great place for family dinner, outings, team banquets or just simply to hang out. 

    On a bucket list of food, this is another Rhode Island must do. 

    The hours of operation are as follows:

    Thursday & Friday 4 - 9 p.m. 

    Saturday - Noon - 9 p.m. 

    Sunday - Noon - 8 p.m.

  • Burger - Harry's Bar & Burger

    121 N Main Street, Providence

    Looking for a good Burger? Harry's Bar and Burger is the place you have to go and order any one of their burger options which are served in the form of sliders. 

    Harry's Bar & Burger is a great spot to go for burgers and beer. There are two locations, one on N Main Street and the other on Federal Hill. 

    The hours of operation are as follows:

    Mon-Thu: 11:30 a.m.-1:00 a.m.
    Fri-Sat: 11:30 a.m.-2:00 a.m.
    Sun: 11:30 a.m.-1:00 a.m.

  • Fried Clams - Evelyn's Drive in 

    2335 Main Road, Tiverton

    Seafood in Rhode Island is some of the best in the country and there are certainly plenty of options. If you are looking for fried clams, Evelyn's Drive in is the place that you have to go. The clams are made even better by the fact that you can sit out on the patio and look out to the water while eating. 

    Evelyn's Drive in has been in operation since 1969 and has worked to incorporate true recipes , classic seafood and even some new stuff. For over 40 years Evelyn's has provided a clean, comfortable and relaxed family environment for all to enjoy. 

    The restaurant even provides a dock for boaters who are looking to grab a bite. 

    Evelyn's is open from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day. 

  • Antipasto- Mediterraneo

    134 Atwells Avenue, Providence 

    Sometimes you might not be looking for a full meal, maybe just an app. If so, Mediterraneo serves little necks that are a must have. Head there and order Antipasto Della Casa.  

    Mediterraneo is one of the best restaurants on Federal Hill, and there certainly are a lot of them. Mediterraneo offers dinner, dancing and a great variety of food  to keep you entertained. 

    The hours of operation are as follows: 

    Tuesday-Thursday: 11:30 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.
    Friday: 11:30 a.m. - 10:00 p.m. 
    Saturday: Lunch: 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Dinner: 3:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.
    Sunday: Lunch/Brunch: 11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. Dinner: 3:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.

  • Gourmet Pizza - Al Forno

    577 South Main Street, Providence 

    If your into freshly made gourmet pizzas, and who isn't, Al Forno Restaurant is the place for you. They serve a variety of pizzas all of which will leave you wanting more. 

    Alforno opened in January of 1980 and serves dishes that are made to reflect products of New England's Farms and Waters cooked in wood burning ovens and on grills. 

    Hours of operation are as follows: 

    Tuesday-Friday 5:00-10:00 p.m. 
    Saturday 4:00-10:00 p.m. 

  • Hot Wings - Smoke House 

    31 Scotts Wharf, Newport 

    If you like hot and wings then Smoke House is a place you have to go and order their hot wings. Make sure you order enough drinks to go along with the wings. 

    Smoke House in Newport is a laid back seasonal hang out where customers can enjoy great food and a great variety of drinks to go along with it. 

    Hours of operation are as follows: 

    Monday - Friday: 11:30 a.m.  - late 
    Saturday - Sunday: 11:00 a.m. - late

  • Paella - Spain Restaurant

    1073 Reservoir Ave, Cranston

    Go over to Spain Restaurant and order their Paella Valenciana. The dish offers a great variety of seafood and is the perfect meal if you can't make up your mind.    

    Spain Restaurant opened in 1987 on Narragansett Pier and moved to its present location in Cranston in 1994. Spain gets all their fish from local fisherman when possible. 

    The hours of operation are: 

    Sunday 1:00-9:00 p.m.
    Monday CLOSED
    Tuesday 4:30-9:30 p.m.
    Wednesday 4:30-9:30 p.m.
    Thursday 4:30-9:30 p.m.
    Friday 4:30-10:30 p.m.

    Saturday 4:30-10:30 p.m.

  • Burger - Stanley's

    535 Dexter Street, Central Falls

    There is no burger like a "Stanleyburger." On the list of great burger places, Stanley's is high up there. That's why, going to Stanley's for a burger is a must on any bucket list. 

    Since 1932, Stanley's Famous Hamburgers has been comfort food at it's finest. Stanley's uses top quality beef and their "Stanlyburgers" have become know region wide. 

    Hours of operation are: 

    Monday - Thursday: 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM
    Friday & Saturday: 11:00 AM – 9:00 PM
    Sunday: CLOSED

  • Sangria & Paehla - Madeira

    288 Warren Avenue, East Providence

    How about some Portuguese Paehla? and to help it along have some Sangria as well. Make this bucket list combination happen at Madeira Restaurant in East Providence. 

    Madeira was established in 1987 and serves traditional Portuguese cuisine to the best quality. All meals at Madeira are cooked to order. Madeira has been a staple of Providence for over 25 years. 

    The hours of operation are as follows: 

    Sun:12:00PM - 10:00PM Mon - Thur:11:30AM - 10:00PM Fri - Sat:11:30AM - 11:00PM

  • Brunch - Perro Salado

    19 Charles Street, Newport

    Perro Salado for brunch is a Rhode Island must. With their expansive menu, it's hard to go wrong, no matter what you pick. 

    The name Perro Salado means "The Salty Dog." Perro Salado is a friendly, vibrant restaurant that serves Mexican cuisine. 

    Hours are as follows:

    Open Nightly at 5 p.m.
    Sunday Brunch 12 - 3 p.m.

  • Snow Ball in Hell - Clarke Cook House 

    1 Bannisters Wharf, Newport

    You have not had desert until you have had a Snow Ball in Hell from Clarke Cook House in Newport. This is a must on any bucket list for food in Rhode Island. 

    Clarke Cook House is the heartbeat of Newport and is know for it's innovative cuisine.The well preserved 18th century dining rooms make it truly and unparalleled Newport experience. 

    Hours are as follows: 

    Lunch: Daily: 11:30 a.m.- 4 p.m.

    Brunch: Sundays 11:30 - 3 p.m.

    Dinner: Nightly: 5 p.m. - 11 p.m.

  • Ceviche - Los Andes 

    903 Chalkstone Ave, Providence 

    Get over to Los Andes in Providence and order their Ceviche. After it refreshes you, you will be glad you ordered it. This is definitely a food bucket list item.  

    Los Andes serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee and drinks and is a great venue for private functions. 

    The hours of operation are as follows: 

    Mon 4:00 pm - 9:00 pm

    Tue 4:00 pm - 9:00 pm

    Wed 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm
    4:00 pm - 10:00 pm

    Thu 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm
    4:00 pm - 10:00 pm

    Fri 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm
    4:00 pm - 11:00 pm

    Sat 12:00 pm - 11:00 pm

    Sun 12:00 pm - 9:00 pm

  • Dynamites - The Castle Restaurant

    420 Social Street, Woonsocket

    You have never had a sandwich like this before. Dynamites at The Castle is a Rhode Island must. 

    The Castle is a family run, home style cooking restaurant with kid and group friendly atmospheres. They offer a variety of food from seafood to sandwiches. But dynamites is what you must order. 

    Hours are as follows:

    Mon-Sat: 11:00 am-7:30 pm

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