by Bob Curley

What are jonnycakes, and why do Rhode Islanders love them?

Made with cornmeal, sugar and salt, jonnycakes are a flatbread originally made by the Narragansett tribe.

The cornmeal used comes from the white cap flint corn originally cultivated by Native Americans in New England.

"[Jonnycakes are] more like cornbread, and grittier than pancakes."

Karie Myers, owner and chef at Jigger’s Diner in East Greenwich, Rhode Island

Even though they’ve been around for centuries, jonnycakes come in a lot of varieties.

The Culinary Archives at Providence’s Johnson & Wales University has at least 30 books on jonnycakes.

The thicker, fluffier South County style is made by slowly adding boiling water to finely ground cornmeal.

Restaurants on the East Bay substitute milk for water and use a coarser cornmeal, resulting in jonnycakes that are thinner and flatter.

Once on the griddle, the jonnycakes must cook for at least 10 minutes on each side, unlike flour pancakes which can be done in a minute or two.

Photo courtesy of Bob Curley

Jonnycakes are usually served with butter and syrup on the side, although they're sweet enough that locals often take just butter.



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