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May 12, 2006 11:02 AM

Typical Foods of Every State/Region of US?

  • c

My wife and I and some friends have decided that we are going to start getting together once a week to have a meal. The twist is that we are going to try to have the theme for every week's meal be a particular state (if we can get info on them all. If not, then we'll do regions.) I just wondered if all of you chowhounds out there could share with me some typical meals and foods from your state. It's hard to find that information on the internet, believe it or not.

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    certainly their original book road food by jane and michael stern would be a good starting point.

    1. For Massachusetts, you could have baked beans, fried clams, brown bread, clam chowder, cod, indian pudding. For Maine ( or the NE area in general), you could serve lobster,and some kind of blueberry dessert.

      1 Reply
      1. re: macca

        For Rhode Island, add jonnycakes (sometimes misspelled johnnycakes), cabinets, iced coffee (the home of iced coffee).

        Apple pie (with Vermont cheddar, for breakfast, of course) has its original home in New England, which was the home of baking methods in the colonies.

        As explained in R.H. Fisher's "Albion's Seed," the various colonies of the USA had dominant settlement patterns by regional British groups, which brought their regional cookways with them. To which were added the important cookways of Indians, Africans, Dutch, Germans and French, then Hispania, et cet.

        The VERY crude equation of cookways (which also track certain accent patterns, but that's another story):

        1. South (starting in Virginia/Maryland, then the Carolinas, et cet.) = southern/western England = frying, roasting and grilling; seasoned well; with lots of vegetables.

        2. New England (then Greater New England, across the upper Midwest to the West Coast) = eastern England = baking; plainly prepared; rich in legumes.

        3. Mid-Atlantic = English northern Midlands, plus the Rhine Valley folk = boiling; lots of pastes and dumplings

        4. Appalachia = Scotland & Ulster = a mix of their rural ways (boiling and roasting), with a heavy emphasis on porridges (now corn instead of oats or barley) and buttermilk, et cet.

      2. Maryland = steamed crabs

        2 Replies
        1. re: cbauer

          and traditional maryland crab cakes
          and softshell crab sandwiches (bite their legs off)
          and raw oysters fresh shucked
          and silverado corn on the cob
          and (i don't get this at all) sauerkraut with thanksgiving turkey!

          1. re: Loren3

            sauerkraut w/ turkey? Must be the big German influence in the Baltimore area. See, e.g., Moravia Road.

        2. Central NY has several local delicacies. I do think, though, that because of the Internet, chain restaurants, and a more transient society, many of these foods have leaked beyond their regional bases. The perfect example is Buffalo Wings.

          Nevertheless, here's a small sampling of Upstate NY specialties:

          Binghamton: spiedies (marinated cubes of meat, traditionally pork or venison, skewered and grilled and served on a slice of italian bread.

          Syracuse: salt potatoes (very small potatoes boiled in brine served whole with melted butter)

          Utica: Utica Greens (escarole cooked in broth, then baked with breadcrumbs and cheese with any combination of several options: some salted meat, i.e. pancetta, prosciutto or salami, hot and/or sweet peppers, and cubes of roasted potatoes).
          Utica also has Chicken Riggies (cubed chicken usually in a spicy vodka sauce with hot peppers served over rigatoni -- with many variations).

          16 Replies
          1. re: jbird17

            Do you have a recipe for Utica greens? I have been searching but nothing I've found comes close to what I've eaten there and what you describe. They are an amazing bitter/salty/spicy combination.

            1. re: Junie D

              I posted a recipe for Utica Greens on the home cooking board.

              Let your fellow central NY'ers know how it turns out!

              1. re: TC

                And don't forget:

                Salt potatoes
                Fish fry
                Cornell chicken bbq

                1. re: TC

                  You have made my day - thank you! I am actually a Northern Californian with in-laws in Syracuse and Rochester who don't make Utica greens. I've only had them in a restaurant. Every time we visit I look forward to fish on Fridays and salt potatoes, great bread, and of course my MIL's homemade pasta.

                  1. re: Junie D

                    Oh, and I can't forget Hoffman's and Heid's hot dogs, and those scary-looking white coneys with the strange buns.

                    1. re: Junie D

                      Those buns aren't so strange. They are New England style buns and can be found everywhere in New England. I prefer that style.

              2. re: jbird17

                I went to school in Syracuse. I miss salt potatoes!

                Also, don't forget hot and spicy cheese curds (much better that those of the upper midwest - apologies to Wisconsinites)

                1. re: jbird17

                  Fascinating first post that I happened to read - that I now live in Los Angeles but was born and raised in Central NY.

                  CNY was famous for firemens field days, during the summer months, back in the day. The delicacies served there were: salt potatoes, steamed clams, hot sausage sandwiches, manhattan and new england clam chowders, hamburgers and hot dogs. I should also mention white hots, which is another type of hot dog that was excellent, but a rare commodity.

                  One delicacy that is often overlooked is the half moon cookie. And real soft serve ice cream. Iced tea was only available between May and September!

                  1. re: TC

                    Do "scary white coneys" or "white hots" = Snappy Grillers?

                    1. re: MaspethMaven

                      Was googling Heid's today (daydreaming from my Boston desk about the pleasures of upstate New York in spring) and saw this post...

                      Yes, "scary white coneys" or "white hots" = Snappy Grillers!!!

                  2. re: jbird17

                    When I lived south of Albany, one of the most popular sandwiches seemed to be Pepperoni Parmigiana heros (or whatever they call them up there, I forget). Never had the nerve to try one; the secret apparently is to buy presliced pepperoni and boil it before adding sauce and mozz.

                    1. re: jbird17

                      what's a salt potato? is it beyond boiling potatoes in salted water?

                      1. re: rebs

                        Yeh. It comes from the fact the Syracuse was long a world-wide center for salt mining and shipping. Liverpool NY was in fact name to take advantage of the worldwide market for the famed Liverpool salt of CHeshire, England (the salt that people in India were forced to buy, and against which Gandhi led protests).


                      2. re: jbird17

                        Hello, in a previous life I lived in the southern tier/finger lakes area of NY and made a couple of thousand fresh fruit pies, everything done by hand. The apples there are unsurpassed both for variety and quality. cheers

                        1. re: jbird17

                          Ithaca: Grilled chicken first marinated in Cornell Barbeque Sauce. The aroma permeates their state parks all summer long. Heavenly!

                          1. re: jbird17

                            It's nice to see others appreciate the cuisine of Central NY, especially in light of the trashing it has gotten on the New York State board in the past.

                          2. Washington State --

                            Fried razor clams which you dug yourself ('cuz there's virtually no commercial clamming) cleaned and stashed in the freezer for the next family event. Creamed spinach, and new potatoes, buttered and parsleyed. Blackberry pie from the wild berries you picked and also kept in the freezer.

                            If razor clams are out of the question then fried oysters will have to do.

                            Makes me homesick just thinking about it.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Sharuf

                              Clams that you dig for yourself may be a unique food for Washington (and similar coastal states), but are hardly typical. I've lived in the state 15 years and haven't gathered clams yet.

                              Admittedly, 'unique' may be more of what the original poster had in mind - things that differentiate one state from another. What I typically eat has more to do with my tastes and interests, than with the state I live in or hail from.

                              Still fish and seafood, especially salmon, is a big part of Washington food 'culture', especially in the western lowlands. Salmon roasted on a cedar plank is a specialty (though I've never done it). Locally gathered berries might also viewed as unique (though the biggest blackberries are an invasive species). Washington is also known for its apple growing, though I don't know of any unique apple dishes.


                              1. re: paulj

                                You've never dug razor clams? It's a favorite family sport in WA and OR. BTW, they're pretty lively, so you don't "gather" them the way you might go after steamer clams with a rake - you have to pursue them down into the sandy surf.



                              2. re: Sharuf

                                Yeh, I grew up eating razor clams - though I never dug them. Last time I was in coastal Washington the restaurants had them, but they were from Alaska.