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The South Coast of Massachusetts has the good fortune to be located between Providence and Cape Cod. In other words, it’s a place tourists pass through in order to get somewhere else, while people who live there take advantage of the seacoast location and the area's Portuguese heritage to produce some interesting local specialties. Fall River is one deep food destination, as tatterdemalion and I discovered on a recent trip. Credit for research goes to tatterdemalion, who planned the day’s itinerary. Although we gave it our best LTH effort, we barely scratched the surface of what this town has to offer. I report here on sandwiches.

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Fall River is home to a WWII naval museum that lies under the bridge that leads into the city. Half of the city's 91,00 residents are of Portuguese descent. The wonderful thing about LTH Forum is that one is never alone in a specific food craving. Fortunately for me, tatterdemalion shares my curiosity about New England Portuguese. He has agreed to collaborate on this topic to cover the Portuguese cusine we sampled in Fall River. In a future entry, I hope to give due respect to Fall River's chow mein sandwich, which deserves its own post.

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We began our exploration at Al Mac's Diner, which is not merely famous, but "Justly Famous since 1910." We started with a "Rhody" aka Rhode Island Coffee Milk. We resolved not to fill up at our first stop. It was just as well, since we soon discovered Graham's Hot Dogs (Est. 1962) and realized that we were in for a couple of classics that were entirely new to us.

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Graham’s “Not Just Another Hot Dog Place”

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Initially, I thought this photograph didn't work out, but then I realized that the reflected scene shows one of Fall River's characteristic triple-deckers, the structures that housed the families of textile workers during Fall River's manufacturing heyday.

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Grill with Beanpot at Graham’s, Fall River, MA

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Graham’s Menu

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tatterdemalion enjoying a Coney Dog and a Chourico Bean Dog at Graham’s

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Chourico Bean Dog at Graham’s

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Hot Cheese Sandwich topped with Coney Sauce and Onions

One seldom walks away from a place like Graham’s without regrets. In this case, we were charmed by the chourico bean dog (which to me recalls Cleveland’s Polish Boy in its sweet porkiness) and distracted by the vile-looking but satisfying hot cheese sandwich. The hot cheese (not grilled cheese) piqued our curiosity, and led to lengthy questioning of the very friendly staff. It turns out that the cheddary-tasting cheese is grated, and a “secret ingredient” is added before warming. Tatterdemalion and I speculated that the secret ingredient is some sort of starch to emulsify the cheese, as it did not separate upon melting. We learned that the typical topping for a hot cheese sandwich is Coney sauce and onions. Our musings over hot cheese led us to neglect the Wimpy dog, which consists of onions cooked in hamburger drippings and served over a hot dog, chourico, beans, or a burger. We learned that no one ever orders the beans-only sandwich, but that beans in a bun with Coney Sauce and onions is a popular choice.

Our next stops were Marzilli's Bakery and Marcucci’s Bakery. Their lists of grinders offered a number of good-looking combinations at very reasonable prices. Our "small" grinder from Marzilli's was anything but small, and set us back $3.20. Most interesting, however, were the sides, which included Portuguese kale soup, clam chowder, chourico rolls, “stuffies” (stuffed Quahogs), and custard cups (aka pasteis de nata, a Portuguese pastry pictured here). I liked the chourico pizza at Marcucci's quite a bit. It is sold by the tray.The base was like a focaccia. It was good at room temperature and a bargain at 42 cents.

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Marcucci’s Bakery

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Chourico with Peppers and Onions Grinder at Marzilli’s

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Chourico Pizza at Marcucci’s

The bread was substantial yet soft at Marzilli’s. It offered a firmer base for the meat than the soft bun at Graham’s. As tatterdemalion observed, the optimal sandwich would combine Graham’s chourico with Marzilli’s bread.

We were ready for a break from chourico when we hit Billy’s Café. That was AOK with the nice folks at Billy’s, who were happy to let us enjoy a dish of stewed salt cod and peppers from the take-out “chicken” place across the street while we drank Narragansett on tap. Billy’s has a nice Yankees vs. Red Sox theme going and native son Emeril Lagasse’s autographed picture hangs on their Wall of Fame. An obliging fellow let me take a photo of his chourico and chips.

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Billy’s Café, Established 1934 “Best Chourico and Chips in Town.”

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Locals belly up to the bar at Billy’s Café

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Chourico and Chips, Billy’s Cafe

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The Liberal Club is a place that tatterdemalion found out about. Boy, was it hopping on a Saturday night! I assume the patrons were locals, because there seemed to be quite a bit of conversation between tables.

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Four chourico options were available on the Liberal Club menu:

1) chourico meat and chips
2) chourico and chips
3) chourico meat and mashed potatoes served with vegetable
4) chourico and mashed potatoes served with vegetable

Since the chips were just average industrial fries, I might try the mashed potato and vegetable with my chourico meat next time.

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This close-up gives you an idea of the type of chourico they serve at the Liberal Club. It was not my favorite chourico of the day. In fact, it was soft, and reminded me of fried Spam. I may not be alone in that assessment; it seemed that most everyone at the Liberal Club was eating prime rib.

As the evening was winding down, tatterdemalion and I ended up in a part of town we had missed earlier in the day. Perhaps it was the implicit threat in this establishment that kept us from eating more. A hand-lettered sign in the window warned, “Cream-filled Pies and Pastries!”

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Nick’s Original Coney Island Wieners has been in business since 1920 . It claims to be the "oldest continuous Coney Island hotdog outlet in the region." Based on the many autographed pictures on the wall, Nick's appears to be the place that visiting dignitaries hang out when in town. And by dignitaries, I mean dignitaries. Any place that The Three Stooges, the Marx Brothers, and Spanky and Our Gang all ate hot dogs is a place that I must eat. That said, Nick’s is not resting on any laurels. They are open until bar-closing time. That would be the perfect time to take them up on their offer: "Buy 5 hotdogs and get 1 free!" And perhaps a melted cheddar sandwich for dessert. . .

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Stay tuned for the next installments: Fall River Portuguese, Fall River Chow Mein Sandwich, and New England Clam Shacks.

And be aware that New England’s largest Portuguese festival, the Feast of the Blessed Sacrament, takes place New Bedford, MA during the first weekend in August. The website (with menu and pictures) is here:

http://www.portuguesefeast.com

Al Mac’s Diner
135 President Ave.
Fall River, MA
(508) 679-5851

Graham’s
931 Bedford St
Fall River, MA
(508) 678-9574

Marcucci’s Bakery
1076 Bedford St.
Fall River, MA

Liberal Club
20 Star St.
Fall River, MA
(508) 672-9415

Nick’s Coney Island
534 S. Main St.
Fall River, MA
(508) 677-3890
Last edited by Josephine on July 14th 2009, 10:47pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Man : I can't understand how a poet like you can eat that stuff.
T. S. Eliot: Ah, but you're not a poet.
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Great post. I cannot tell you how many times when I lived on the east coast that I would bypass Fall River on the way to the Woods Hole Ferry. If I'm ever making that drtive again, you can be sure that I'm stopping for a bean dog.
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How appropriate, that the town's official motto is, "We'll try" ! Try, we did, but as Josephine notes, we barely even scratched the surface of a town that runs deep with all kinds of fascinating foods. What perhaps was most striking to me were the sheer number of independently-owned restaurants and shops in town, on every block and every storefront, many of them with longstanding roots, and with a loyal local following. Fall Riverians live well beyond their motto.

Josephine wrote:Image


Sitting at the school-desk at Graham's brought me back to gradeschool math class, where I pondered the endless permutations of perplexing possibilities. Chourico (pronounced "chaurice"), hot cheese, Coney sauce, beans ? Wimpy dog, hot cheese, beans ? Wimpy burger, hot cheese, beans ? I couldn't quite ever shake the hot cheese from my mind all day, and perhaps I'm inordinately fascinated by it, but this odd creation, seemingly a Fall River thing (though I'd be happy to hear the official ruling from Rene G), just somehow charmed the pants off me. Despicable & delightful all at once.

Josephine wrote:Image
Chourico with Peppers and Onions Grinder at Marcucci’s


This, I believe, was actually enjoyed at Marcuccis' rival grinder shop, Marzilli's, which is directly across the street from Graham's.

Marzilli's Bakery
944 Bedford St
Fall River, MA 02723-1234
(508) 675-5551

Way more to come on Fall River & New Bedford here. "We'll try" to do it justice !
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Thanks for the correction, Nab. Marzilli's and Marcucci's=TweedleDee and TweedleDum.

I actually found a passing reference to the hot cheese sandwich on a Chowhound thread on Fall River. What is clear to me is that we have a lot of work to do to really uncover the wonders of this town.
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Man : I can't understand how a poet like you can eat that stuff.
T. S. Eliot: Ah, but you're not a poet.
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Site Admin
I always wnodered what Emeril was talking about when he called for "some o' that good "chaurice" sausage" in his recipes.
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Steve Z.

"Why should I eat a carrot when I can eat pizza?" - Dan Janssen
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RIP Oriental Chow Mein Company, of Fall River, Massachusetts, makers of Hoo Mee Chow Mein mix. The factory burned to the ground recently, as reported by the Boston Herald. Scroll down to read the heartfelt condolences of many.

http://www.heraldnews.com/homepage/x737 ... -Noodle-Co

According to this blog, Josephine's Foods has stepped in to fill the void left by the disappearance of Hoo Mee.

http://www.newenglandbites.com/2009/03/ ... n-mix.html
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Man : I can't understand how a poet like you can eat that stuff.
T. S. Eliot: Ah, but you're not a poet.
Avatar
Josephine wrote:The hot cheese (not grilled cheese) piqued our curiosity, and led to lengthy questioning of the very friendly staff. It turns out that the cheddary-tasting cheese is grated, and a “secret ingredient” is added before warming. Tatterdemalion and I speculated that the secret ingredient is some sort of starch to emulsify the cheese, as it did not separate upon melting. We learned that the typical topping for a hot cheese sandwich is Coney sauce and onions.


It appears that Nick's Coney Island is slightly more forthcoming in their information on the hot cheese sandwich. They use NY sharp white cheddar.

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But they're significantly more expensive than their competitors across the street, JJ's Coney Island.

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I'm afraid a horizontal tasting will need to be conducted. Perhaps between the hours of 2-3am.
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Fall River Portuguese

So where is “Little Portugal” in Fall River ? You could say it resides on historic Columbia Street – lined with old world parks, the gothic Santo Christo church, several bakeries, markets and restaurants permeating the air with the smell of stewing meats and sweet breads. While it is the Portuguese heart of town, truth is, you can’t avoid the Portuguese presence anywhere you go, to the extent that I’m sure the local McD’s franchise even has a chourico & chips grinder, arguably the town’s signature sandwich.

Columbia Street
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Bound to a tight itinerary of chow mein sandwiches, hot dogs, grinders, and Portuguese dinners, we didn’t stick around too long on Columbia Street, but managed to stop into a couple of markets and bakeries. I hope Josephine will report back on the goods she procured at the bakeries in town, which is probably another post unto itself. Nobrega Market, sitting under the shadow of the towering and impressive Santa Christo church across the street, is a little market specializing in chourico, linguica and blood sausage, as well as a small selection of prepared foods, particularly some sandwich meats like cacoila (a mildly spiced pulled pork), as well as a coarsely ground blood sausage mixture which seemed suspended in a goodly amount of fat. They didn’t have a copy of the National Enquirer by the cash register, so we instead settled for a small plate of cracklins and a rich and savoury beef stew.

Trying, desperately, to find a way out of this godforsaken block of hot dogs, chourico grinders and hot cheese sandwiches, we were struck by a whiplash-inducing hit of frango no churrasco (Portuguese grilled chicken) coming from, none other than Senhor Frango:

Mr. Chicken
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Mr. Chicken specializes in, well, frango no churrasco, but also two large display cases of prepared foods, mostly stews and fish dishes, all looking and smelling mighty lovely.

cacoila, ???, octopus & vegetable stew
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feijoao
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frango no churrasco
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not your Wiviott’s ribs
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meat & potatoes, something for everyone
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swordfish steaks
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sardines
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Locals came in and out, grabbing dinners and watching Josephine and I as we staggered around the shop wondering how and what we could possibly jam down our already crammed gullets. Samples were really not an option as foods were mostly portioned out into single servings of fish and such, but the friendly woman working the case flashed a smile, grabbed a take-out container and gifted us with a rather large hunk of bacalao with stewed onions and red peppers. Which we took across the street, to Billy’s Café, one of the local legendary places known for its chourico & chips sandwich, where its saltiness went well with a draft ‘gansett (Narragansett).

bacalao w/ onions & peppers (Photo courtesy of Josephine)
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The South Main Street area of town is another stretch of several blocks lined with restaurants, bakeries, shops and markets. One particular seafood market, Lisbon Seafood Market was of a certain appeal, offering a seafood boil that particular day, along with other prepared foods on other days, and of course a wide variety of daisy fresh seafood, including of course the ubiquitous salt cod.

Lisbon Seafood Market
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bacalao (Photo courtesy of Josephine)
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Directly across the street is Marisqueira Azores, one of several Azorean restaurants in Fall River.

Marisqueira Azores
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One of the specials of the day, were grelhadas lapas, or grilled limpets (think barnacles), an Azorean delicacy, which were absolutely delicious, with strong sea notes and an ever so slightly bitter finish, which all went well with the simple garlic butter prep.

grilled lapas (Photos courtesy of Josephine)
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Another special, in the same preparation, were succulent morsels of fresh littlenecks. Some excellent Portuguese bread rolls to sop things up, and vinho verde to wash things down, this defines the characteristic charm and simplicity of Portuguese cuisine.

grilled littleneck clams (Photos courtesy of Josephine)
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One of the oldest (if not the oldest) Portuguese restaurants in Fall River is Tabacaria Acoreana (or TA Restaurant, as it’s now known), also located on the S. Main strip. TA was slightly more upscale (a relative term in Fall River), and seemed to be a highly revered place where locals went for special family occasions.

Something you’ll find on every Portuguese menu is kale soup, and somehow a bowl never found its way into our bellies until TA. After a long day, I found their version quite comforting, chockfull of chourico (couldn’t escape the damn stuff!), potatoes, tender cannelini beans and kale in a nice rich yet light meat-based broth.

kale soup
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Next was a plate of Azorean cheese and olives, the cheese being semi-soft, and mild flavoured, and quite enjoyable.

Azorean cheese and olives
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The other staple of every Portuguese menu is the African-influenced Shrimp Mocambique which, despite its deceptive red color, is not all that spicy.

Shrimp Mocambique
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And as reported elsewhere, the intrigue of the Portuguese bean pudding got the best of Josephine and capped off a marvelous day of feasting in Fall River.

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While we only had the time & stomach capacity for two appetizer-based Portuguese meals on this trip, there is a world of other Portuguese delights which will be the focus of another (or several) upcoming installments. The LTH New England team could use a few strong players to play this game so if you’re out there, or out here, get in touch !

Nobrega Market
235 Columbia St
Fall River, MA 02721-1319
(508) 678-8652

Mister Chicken
656 Bedford St
Fall River, MA 02720-4828
(508) 675-4566

Billy’s Cafe
663 Bedford St
Fall River, MA 02720-4829
(508) 672-9380

Lisbon Seafood Market
1428 S Main St
Fall River, MA 02724-2604
(508) 672-3617

Marisqueira Azores
1445 S Main St
Fall River, MA 02724-2603
(508) 646-1511

TA Restaurant
408 S. Main St.
Fall River, MA
508-673-5890
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I can't wait to get back there! Thanks for posting, Nab.
_______________________________________

Man : I can't understand how a poet like you can eat that stuff.
T. S. Eliot: Ah, but you're not a poet.
Avatar
stevez wrote:I always wnodered what Emeril was talking about when he called for "some o' that good "chaurice" sausage" in his recipes.

From the Wikipedia entry on chorizo:
Chorizo (Spanish pronunciation: [tʃoˈɾiθo]; Galician: Chourizo [tʃoˈɾiθo]; Portuguese: Chouriço [ʃoˈɾisu]; Catalan: Xoriço [ʃuˈɾisu]) is a term encompassing several types of pork sausage originating from the Iberian Peninsula. In English it is usually pronounced /tʃəˈriːzoʊ/, /tʃɵˈriːsoʊ/, or /tʃɵˈriːθoʊ/, but sometimes mispronounced /tʃɵˈriːtsoʊ/.

Chorizo can be a fresh sausage, in which case it must be cooked, but in Europe it is more frequently a fermented cured smoked sausage, in which case it is usually sliced and eaten without cooking. Spanish chorizo and Portuguese chouriço get their distinctive smokiness and deep red color from dried smoked red peppers (pimentón/pimentão or colorau).


Emeril's Portuguese pronunciation includes a softer ch than the Spanish pronunciation (ʃo rather than tʃo), and he's dropping the final u sound, but that could just reflect his regional accent.

Maybe I'm being way to diacritical :lol:, but ...

... anyone who wants to put characters such as ç into words in their posts can do so in a couple of different ways, one of which, in Windows, is to go to Control Panel/ Regional and Language Options/ Languages/ Details/ Settings and change the keyboard type from English US to English-United States-International. Acute-accented vowel symbols (á, é, etc.) are created by striking the apostrophe key before the vowel key. Apostrophe-then-c creates ç. Tilde-then-n creates ñ.

I wish more people would use the correct diacritical marks in their posts when using the foreign-language names for foods. For some, it's borderline painful to read them otherwise. Just when you're looking forward to relaxing and enjoying some cachaça, you get jarred awake by some cachaca kahn!

My pet peeve just wanted to get out for a walk. I'm done now.
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"I would gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today."
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Thanks for the tip, Katie. However, I note that none of the Fall River menus pictured above uses the cedilla. I'll have to check out how it's done there on the next visit.
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Man : I can't understand how a poet like you can eat that stuff.
T. S. Eliot: Ah, but you're not a poet.
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Here are some more pictures from my recent trip to Fall River with tatterdemalion.

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Street Corner Shrine on Columbia Street

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Unfortunately, we discovered too late that Saturday is malassada day at this Fall River church.

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Tony's sweet bread was shaped a lot like English muffins, but tasted like pannetone. I got the version without raisins, and it toasted up nicely. I wished I had brought home two packages.

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Nab tells me that Emeril himself washed dishes at Carreiros Barcelos Bakery. They do not make malassadas on Saturday. We were told that the bolos d'arroz actually contain no rice.

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You've gotta love Rhode Island's official state drink, coffee milk made with Autocrat syrup.

Tony's Bakery
196 Columbia Street
Fall River, MA‎
(508) 675-0015‎

Carreiros Barcelos Bakery
695 Bedford Street
Fall River, MA
(508} 676-8661
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Man : I can't understand how a poet like you can eat that stuff.
T. S. Eliot: Ah, but you're not a poet.
Avatar

Lead Moderator
Chow Mein Sandwiches, by Imogene Lim, Chinese Food in the USA, Summer Volume: 1999 Issue: 6(2) page(s): 5

...
If you want to try the Chow Mein Sandwich (a la Fall River), purchase one package (eight ounces) of 'Original Hoo Mee Chow Mein Mix.' Then prepare your chow mein according to directions. Place a hearty scoop of the chow mein mixture between a hamburger bun or between slices of white bread (square loaf required, to be authentic). When using white bread, also prepare the Chow Mein (brown gravy) Mix and ladle the resulting gravy over the sandwich as one would for a hot turkey sandwich.

'Original Hoo Mee Chow Mein Mix' is available in southeastern New England supermarkets, or it can be ordered directly from: Oriental Chow Mein Company, 42 Eighth Street, Fall River MA 02720.

...
Imogene Lim, an anthropologist teaching at Malaspina University College in Canada, researches food culture and ethnicity. Research on the chow mein sandwich was done while a Rockefeller Humanities Post Doctoral Fellow.
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Cathy2

"You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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Lead Moderator
In case you really want the real deal, here is where Hoo-Mee brand Chow Mein mix

Hoo-Mee brand Chow Mein mix is the original chow mein mix. Packaged since 1926, for home preparation. The ingredients in this package will make a delicious meal of chow mein, of the type generally served in better Chinese restaurants of southeastern Massachusetts. 1 package yields four servings - This is a very economical and great tasting dish!
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Cathy2

"You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
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Cathy2 wrote:In case you really want the real deal, here is where Hoo-Mee brand Chow Mein mix

Hoo-Mee brand Chow Mein mix is the original chow mein mix. Packaged since 1926, for home preparation. The ingredients in this package will make a delicious meal of chow mein, of the type generally served in better Chinese restaurants of southeastern Massachusetts. 1 package yields four servings - This is a very economical and great tasting dish!

If one can't get the Hoo-Mee chow mein noodles, do you think Mee-Tu brand would be an appropriate substitute?

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Aren't the Longman & Eagle guys opening a Fall River chow mein sandwich and St. Louis St. Paul sandwich place in SW Michigan soon? I wonder which brand they are using, or if they'll fry them to order...
Home Cookin'

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