Whether it’s the kid selling fiddleheads out of a cooler on the side of the country road, or the guy who figured out he could fill a niche by frying fish at festivals, Maine is steeped in people who make it happen.
My father started our family business the year I was born. His first foray into frying fish at fairs was the Common Ground Country Fair in Unity, Maine. He figured out how much haddock it would be possible for him to bread and fry in three days. With the help of a friend taking orders and making change, Dad’s fingers flipped the fish down the breading table and into the fryer. The delicious fried haddock served to the customers was an instant Common Ground classic and Dad thought his ship had come in. Truth be told, fried fish at fairs was a hard sell at other shows. We tried shows out of state and people didn’t know what haddock was. People were skeptical. But 30 years later, with pure Maine dedication and many samples, the business has made Finest Fried Maine Seafood the award winning success it is today.
With family business in my blood, I’ve endeavored to walk my own walk and strive for independence. I was actively working on opening a hostel in Portland to promote more people from different walks of life to explore that fair city. As it happens, just as zoning was passed by the Portland City Council, my boyfriend and I built our house in Durham, Maine. Now, we are living and farming on Old Crow Ranch, 30 minutes outside of Portland. Someday I'll establish a hostel close to home and committed to eco-tourism. My hostel will include farm days, cooking lessons, harvest dinners and self-guided hikes. In the meantime, if hostels excite you (as they do me), you should look up the eco-friendly Deer Isle Hostel.
Wherever you travel in Maine, you are sure to run into roadside vendors, independent shops, farm stands and niche markets. Be sure to stop in and see what’s cooking. Ask about their origins, observe their independence, then leave your $2 for a pound of fiddleheads in the can provided and enjoy.