On July 18, 2016 the library’s cookbook club met for dinner with The Providence and Rhode Island Cookbook: Big Recipes from the Smallest State by Linda Beaulieu, first published in 2006 by Insiders’ Guide and a revised second edition in 2012.
Linda was also the library’s guest of our monthly Meet the Author series in July. She shared some insight into her life and her cookbooks.
Linda is a graduate of Northeastern University where she majored in journalism. She grew up in northern Rhode Island where she worked for The Woonsocket Call, a local daily paper. She remembers when The Call was a competitor to The Providence Journal which had launched a Food section in the 1980s. Not wanting to be left out, The Call started a Food section with Linda as the lead writer. She got the gig because she was one of a few women in the newsroom who knew how to cook. She had a collection of family recipes and with her new job as a food writer, she began collecting more recipes around Rhode Island.
Linda has been published in numerous local and national publications and is a winner of the James Beard Award for magazine writing. In 2009 and 2010 the Rhode Island Press Association awarded her for Best Food Writing.
After writing for The Call Linda left to work for Johnson and Wales in the Public Relations office promoting the College of Culinary Arts for 10 years. While there, she produced the “Cooking with Class” television show.
Linda worked as a restaurant consultant before retiring to devote her time to writing cookbooks. She is the author of:
Divine Providence: An Insider’s Guide to the City’s Best Restaurants
The Grapevine Guide to Rhode Island’s Best Restaurants
The Providence and Rhode Island Cookbook, now in its 2nd edition
The TV Maitre d’ Cookbook, based on the local television show
The Providence and Rhode Island Chef’s Table
Seafood Lover’s New England
Her newest book – The New England Orchard Cookbook – will be published in the fall of 2016.
The first edition of The Providence and Rhode Island Cookbook has photos of local Rhode Island chefs and restaurants, and sidebars with information about the state’s unique food culture, tips on how to cook a lobster, or history about local restaurants. One of the big changes with the second edition, is the addition of color. The first book is entirely in black and white and the addition of the color photos and color sidebars makes the second edition of the book much more attractive.
Each recipe has a brief introduction to how it came to be. Most are from local Rhode Island restaurants that have been in the family for years. Others come from Linda’s collection of family recipes or ones she’s found over her years working as a food writer.
The book’s contents are organized into Breakfast; Lunch; Dinner; Desserts & Beverages. It really is a book that markets the state’s natural beauty and access to the ocean, along with its’ family connection to food. Below Cookbook Club reviewers note that they would give it as a gift to a non-Rhode Islander, but for a native, it came across as a little too much like a travel guide. I think this is true, it’s less of a cookbook and more like a food tour of the smallest state in the Union.
While writing the first edition, Linda corresponded with former Providence mayor, Buddy Cianci while he was serving four years in federal prison for a racketeering conspiracy. He contributed a recipe for his marinara sauce. He also bottles the sauce and sells it to local Rhode Island stores.
Travel and Leisure has rated Providence in the top list of America’s Best City for Food several years in a row. It’s no surprise to us, and this cookbook and others by Linda help to share that knowledge with the world.
Club Rating: 2.9 out of 5 stars
“Recipes varied in terms of sophistication and quality of directions. Interesting discussion of RI restaurants and food traditions.” -M.H.
“Nostalgic and perhaps caricatures of what a tourist might think of RI food. Regional variations were a nice touch. Many of the recipes seemed off. A fun read overall with some new recipes I want to try.” -K.M.
“I liked the stories behind each of the recipes, but did not get to make many of them. I tried to make one for this evening, and I wonder if it is quite flavorful enough?” -H.M.
“Appropriate for the State and its ethnic foundations. Liked the divisional chapters and sidebars.”-A.W.
“As a Rhode Islander the recipes were nothing special.” – C.P.
11 out of 15 would recommend the cookbook to a friend. Some said they would give it to a non-Rhode Island friend. Another said they thought it would be a good gift for its RI food history. 4 out of 15 club members had heard of Linda before. One club member remarked that she’d seen Linda written up many times in local papers.
Linda lives in Lincoln, Rhode Island with her husband Brian and their cocker spaniel, Beau. They like to spend their summers at their beach home in Narragansett, where they have a much-used outdoor kitchen.
- quiche with chorizo, spinach, and cheddar p. 5 (1st ed) does not appear in 2nd ed
- italian wedding soup p. 31 (1st ed) p. 38 (2nd ed)
- kidney bean salad p. 41 (1st ed) p.51 (2nd ed)
- RI Grinder Sauce p. 52 (1st ed) p. 63 (2nd ed)
- smoked bluefish pate p. 56 (1st ed)
- italian sausage and white beans (does not appear in 1st ed) p. 66 (2nd ed)
- mussel-stuffed mushrooms p. 71 (1st ed) p.88 (2nd ed)
- gougeres p. 73 (1st ed) p. 90 (2nd ed)
- for adults only mac and cheese p. 86 (1st ed) p. 104 (2nd ed)
- french meat pie p. 107 (1st ed) p. 124 (2nd ed)
- grilled vegetables with balsamic dressing p. 178 (1st ed) p. 197 (2nd ed)
- RI indian meal corn bread p. 179 (1st edition) p. 203 (2nd ed)
- RI pizza strips p. 195 (1st ed) p. 223 (2nd ed)
- rhubarb upside down cake p. 207 (1st ed) p.235 (2nd ed)
- prudence island blueberry cake p. 238 (2nd ed)
- wright’s farm hermits p. 225 (1st ed) p. 258 (2nd ed)
- pizzelles p. 229 (1st ed) p. 263 (2nd ed)