Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Maine Italian

Pictured above is a "Real Italian" from Amato's sandwich shop in Maine. The Maine "Italian" is one of those few remaining true regional foods.

It's claimed that a man named Amato created this sandwich about 100 years ago, selling them to fellow immigrants working the docks in Portland.

I'm sure it has evolved over the years, but today's standard version, same as when I moved to Portland 30 years ago, consists of:

a very soft bun
a thin layer of boiled ham (I'll bet Mr. Amato used salami)
a thin layer of mild provolone
sour pickle spears
tomato wedges
green pepper slices
black olive halves
salt, pepper, oil

One thing that makes it very different from most subs is that there is a lot more vegetable matter than meat and cheese. Its simplicity is its elegance and appeal.

The Italian pictured above -- which I order sans olives -- was enjoyed on a sunny Saturday afternoon at Crescent Beach in Cape Elizabeth, just down the road from an Amato's location in Scarborough.


SleepingDreamer said...

They use white American cheese, not provolone. I miss it!

Patrick McGlamery said...

The veggie italian is a classic. I began having that sandwich back in the 60's and the woman behind the counter on India St used a big chef's knife to slice the fresh tomatoes and pickles on the roll. Twenty years later she was still slicing, but the knife looked like a filet knife. I must have two, one for the yard and one for the road. Just fresh vegetables, oil and vinegar and the right mix of salt and pepper. Simply wonderful. I keep waiting for Saveur to pick it up.