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How New England Are You?

The Ice Storm of 2008:
More than 400,000 homes in New Hampshire alone went without power, some for several weeks.

52. Keep Your Eyes Peeled for the Lake Champlain Monster
The theories go on and on. Champ could be a reptile–or a large eel, or a sturgeon, or none of the above. He could be one or many. He could be a species known to modern biology or a genus never before discovered. But, most important, he could be.

53. Know the Pain That Came With Being a Red Sox Fan Pre-2004
It hasn’t always been about pink hats and multiple World Series titles, folks. Johnny Pesky holding the ball … Bill Buckner and Game 6 … Bucky Dent in ’78 … and Aaron Bleeping Boone. ‘Nuff said, right?

54. Learn the Story of a True New England Tall Tale
The name: Barnabas “Tall Barney” Beal. Birthplace: Jonesport, Maine. Size: 6’7″ with a weight of 300 pounds. The legend: His strength was renowned–as were the stories, like the one where he supposedly killed a horse with a single blow.

55. Visit E. B. White Country
Read about Wilbur, Charlotte, and the rest of the gang from Charlotte’s Web; then visit Maine’s Blue Hill Fair, the now 119-year-old event that inspired it all.

56. See the Potato Blossoms of Maine’s Aroostook County
“The County” has been called “the Crown of Maine.” To travel up, up, to Presque Isle, its largest town, almost three hours north and east of Bangor, is to climb to the top of the world. Here, it’s the earthly tuber, not the scenery, that defines the region. This Maine industry is 250 years old. Andovers, Superiors, Shepodys, Russet Burbanks, Kennebecs, Snowdens: These varieties, along with 50 or 60 others, are part of the everyday vocabulary of the region, where the local economy hinges on them and a meal isn’t a meal without a spud.

57. Visit Robert Frost’s House–Any of Them
For someone who claimed to have “miles to go before I sleep,” Robert Frost sure made a lot of pit stops; he seemed to drop into every town along the way to buy a house. Eight different New England towns can claim to be the poet’s home (four still have houses you can tour), making Frost the most ubiquitous local hero in the region.

58. Have an Awkward Conversation With Someone Who Won’t Break Character
Maybe it was a Pilgrim at Plimoth Plantation, or maybe a soldier at a Civil War reenactment, or someone claiming to be Mark Twain–we’ve all been there. For better or worse, living history is alive in New England, filling our museums with authentically clad time travelers who want nothing more than to tell you about their plough or the recent wave of white plague (tuberculosis). That’s the thing about having more history than the rest of the country–there’s more of it to come back to haunt you.

59. Watch Santa Make His Arrival … on the Water
Forget the prancing and pawing of each little hoof. At the “Christmas by the Sea” festival in Kennebunkport, Maine, Santa arrives in a fashion every Mainer can appreciate: by lobster boat.

Fill Up on Something Other Than a Boiled Dinner

60. Burritos: El Mexicano, Manchester, New Hampshire
The creations here feature layers of rice and beans, plus sparkling-fresh cilantro and chopped onions, along with a choice of meats (chicken, beef, or four pork variations) or just cheese. Just as important: They’re expertly rolled, so that the flour tortilla weaves between the filling ingredients, with far less spillage than other burritos.

61. Pierogi: Staropolska, New Britain, Connecticut
They’re large and plump, pan-fried in butter, and filled with mixtures of cheese and potato, bacon, beef, veal, mushrooms, and sauerkraut. The surprise treat is the dessert pierogi–a summery burst of raspberry.

62. Paella: Toro, Boston, Massachusetts
The great flavor comes from cooking all of the ingredients–the rice, vegetables, saffron, chicken, seafood, sausage, and peas–to their rightful tastes and textures without messing up the others.

63. Poutine: Chez Vachon, Manchester, New Hampshire
This place gets it right: The fries are crispy, and the mild cheddar curds are just beginning to melt under the chicken gravy, which is black-pepper spicy.

64. Play It Humble
Head to York, Maine, and pretend you’re not a tourist by trying not to take a picture of Nubble Light–perhaps the most photographed lighthouse in the world.

Updated Monday, August 16th, 2010

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