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What American food regions, cuisines or dishes would you like to get to know better?

For me it's Texas, Kansas City and Carolina barbeque. As I understand it there is no good way to duplicate these items outside of their respective regions. Also, the reverence that the folks from these regions apparently have for their particular take on barbeque is I'm told wonderfully strict and opinionated (like me).

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  1. I'd agree, and to this I'd add New Orleans, beyond the caricatures of the cuisine we've come to know...creole sauce, blackened catfish, crawfish etouffe....have been to N.O. many times, pre-Katrina, and there's lots of inventiveness to the cooking beyond what happens at places like Galatoire's or Antoine's, or dare I say Emeril's....

    1 Reply
    1. re: 280 Ninth

      Ha! In our house we call that kind of cooking "Zydeco Crawfish." I completely agree. There's so much good in the Delta. Produce comes to mind... Creole tomatoes and Satsuma oranges.

    2. One of my most vivid and memorable dining experiences from my childhood was a meal prepared by an Amish family served in their home during a trip to Lancaster County (Pennsylvania Dutch Country). I remember having corn on the cobb and homemade bread and pungent (not too sweet) fruit preserves (among, I'm sure, other things). Everything was so fresh. The bread was still warm from the oven. I can still smell those preserves. It was so good. I really need to do that again some time.

      1. Agree, except for east Carolina BBQ. Covering up all that smoked meat flavor with a bun sounds unappealing.

        3 Replies
        1. re: mpalmer6c

          Agreed. I HATE PULLED PORK! Why do that to a deliciously smoked piece of pig. I have my own teeth! I can chew my own food.

          1. re: MaspethMaven

            OMG I could not agree more. I have always refered to it as pre-chewed. Tastes good enough, but...I would leave it really chunky if it were up to me...

          2. re: mpalmer6c

            Not everyone eats it on a bun. That's just one option.

          3. The one thing with bbq is there is no sure fire way to get the regional flavour. It can vary in regions in distances as little as 50 miles.
            Take for instance Alabama. My inlaws are in Huntsville. Right next to Huntsville is Decatur and Big Bob Gibsons BBQ and home of the "White Sauce". Go 50 miles in any direction and you won't find it.

            As for me, it's Low Country cooking that I'd like to have a go at. I've had Brunswick Stew and Shrimp and Grits but that's about it. I'd like to get down there and get some She Crab Soup and whatever else they can serve up.


            9 Replies
            1. re: Davwud

              I was going to say Low Country, too. It's such an interesting cuisine with fascinating origins. But since that's taken, I'm also very interested in the old-fashioned regional cuisines that are dying out: like Amish or traditional New England (the kind that involved Indian pudding and Johnny cakes, not chowder and lobster rolls). It seems like a lot of America's regional cuisine is dying; I mean, who eats Hoppin' John anymore?

                1. re: revsharkie

                  That's impressive. I know a lot of people who are very emphatically American but have no idea what Hoppin' John even is. Let alone pone or Indian pudding, rather American treats, I'd say. It seems like most of our "traditional" foods today were invented by Betty Crocker in the 1950s.

                  1. re: JungMann

                    You aren't allowed to survive New Year's Day in Nashville without Hoppin' John in the house! Okay, SLIGHT exaggeration...but I have to tell you that not only have I carried my acquired HJ habit to SoCal with me, come to find out my old buddy up in Palo Alto, a tech writer and software guy of Central American Jewish descent, has been making it every New Year's for a few eons now.

                    Back on topic - I'm trying to think if there's any regional cuisine I haven't really studied up on. I do like to cook traditional American, either the Midwestern sort I grew up with, the Southern style I assimilated in Tennessee and thereabouts, or the New England-accented kind that pretty much informed my mother's family fare. The Low Country stuff that's been mentioned is something I've barely explored, though I do have several books on the subject...damn. So much good food, so little time!

                    1. re: Will Owen

                      Hoppin' John every New Year's here, too -- daughter of New Englanders transplanted to the south...I moved back north...but one grandmother is from Oklahoma, so I'm never sure which traditions are Yankee and which are southern. I'm a big indian pudding fan, too.

                      1. re: momjamin

                        Southern wife and in laws. Hopin' John on NYD every year.


                        1. re: Davwud

                          Well I certainly have egg on my face. Maybe traditional foods still have a foothold in the South. Yanks seem to be a little more removed from the foods their ancestors ate. Unless their ancestors came in the last 50 years.

                          1. re: JungMann

                            I guess I could tell you that if you wanted to be technical about it, it's not really hj. From what I understand it's got rice in it and we don't have rice.
                            The thing is, on NYD we eat BE peas, corn bread (Hence the HJ), plus ham, greens, pepper sauce, all the traditional southern NYD fixin's.


                2. re: JungMann

                  I make Hoppin' John at least once a month 'round here - the boys love it, it reheats well, and it's tasty as all get out. (I'm originally from northern California - spent seven years in Florida - and am now in southern California - started making Hoppin' John in Florida.)

              1. I'd love to spend a summer in Maine - blueberries and lobster rolls. heaven!

                2 Replies
                1. re: bijoux16

                  I've been hanging out in New England and it's been huge fun home-cooking lobsters (does that sound sadistic?), trying Indian pudding, and even growing fond of that weird brown bread that comes from a can.

                  Otherwise, I'm a Canadian so I'd go with Quebecois cuisine (I know this is a cheat).

                  1. re: Rabbit

                    "That weird brown bread" was a regular lunchtime guest at my Grandma Kuntz's table. I loved it - she'd open both ends of the can and push it through, then cut thin slices and spread them with cream cheese, or sometimes that jarred Neufchatel with pineapple.

                    Home-cooking lobsters is sadistic only because you're talking about this to people who don't have your access to them! AAAaaarrrgghhhh.....

                  1. Chicago style hot dogs

                    1. I'd say New Mexican/Southwest. I have great food memories of trips there and it's almost impossible to find in Canada (at least in the East), as opposed to Mexican or TexMex.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: PaulV

                        it's not just a problem finding in the East

                        1. re: PaulV

                          I was going to say New Mexican.

                        2. Low Country - Amish and Mennonite (did I spell the latter correctly?) - mid-Atlantic seafood - most of New England.

                          1. I'd definately like to take a BBQ Belt tour of some kind and get other regional foods along the way and hit NOLA. Been to Chicago quite a few times...never had an Italian beef sandwich.

                            1. NYC sidewalk stand cuisine.

                              1. I'd love to knowledgeably compare the types of BBQ styles -- an extended road trip might be a start. My limited experience makes me love KC style, but could the holy grail be out there. The variations of okra use in the South would be good too.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: orangewasabi

                                  Yes that's the cool part that each region's approach is so different. For example, as I understand, in Texas it's all about beef (brisket, etc) because that's what's there and has been always been there since the first settlers. They also, I hear, celebrate the meat "naked" or unadorned except for the smoke flavor from the cooking process. This differs from KC and Carolina who each use sauce and prefer to use pork. Carolina is interesting for the use of mustard based sauces (which almost sounds kinda French to me anyway).

                                  1. re: Chinon00

                                    There are variations withing the Carolinas. If your in Lexington, it's vinegar based sauce sans tomatoe, if you're in the peidmont or in SC, you will find mustard. You also have a difference between whole hog and shoulder/butt areas. Whole hogs have a different taste because of different parts being mixed. That's why you find the pulled or chopped pork in the South. So the whole hoggers can mix the loin meat with the shoulder meat with the ham, etc.

                                    In you're original statement you said that "there is no good way to duplicate these items outside of their respective regions". How wrong you are. It's not where you live, but you're knowledge of meat/heat/smoke that make it BBQ.

                                    1. re: bkhuna

                                      Actually that's what I think would be a nice addition to American cuisine. I like to travel and I've noticed particularly in places like Paris that cuisine from within the country is featured and revered as much so as cuisine from outside the country. Alsatian, Basque, Breton, Burgundian, Gascony, Loire, Pyrenee, etc, are as common in Paris as Chinese, Italian, and Indian are in any major American city. Wouldn't it be nice to have impressive and multiple Low Country, Creole/Cajun, New England, Texas/K.C./Carolina BBQ, New Mexican, Amish/Menonite, etc restaurants in D.C., New York and Los Angeles that equaled or outnumbered the aforementioned Chinese, Italian, et al?

                                2. I was at a tasting yesterday of foods from the Rio Grande Valley (Brownsville TX) and I would love to taste some more stuff from there! It was delicious--there was brisket--but also unbelievable grilled grapefruit, duck adobo, shrimp with chipotle garlic sauce...

                                  1. I dont know about New England. My great-grandmother was from Salem, Mass and cooked us--often-- Boston baked beans, They were dreadful. In fact, it was a long time before I would eat cassoulet because it looked so much like her baked beans. Has anyone ever had good baked beans?

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: tartuffe

                                      Good bbq baked beans are the best - with chunks of meat or sausage in them! I second the Q tour. Let's do it - Q Tour 2007!

                                      1. re: tartuffe

                                        Vermont baked beans. Made w/maple syrup instead of molasses. Dad makes the brown bread in his own specialty cans to go with the beans. No complaints here. Boston baked beans always seem a sad wannabe.

                                        Since I've already chimed in twice without adding anything of real substance, I'll double up "replies" here...chinon00 -- what part of Carolina has mustard based sauces? Eastern NC has vinegar based, Western NC has tomato based.

                                        1. re: momjamin

                                          It's actually SC that has mustard-based sauces, along with vinegar-based, thin tomato-based (think Lexington/western NC style), and thick tomato-based (think Memphis style). SC is the only state that features all four sauces, and some restaurants serve multipe styles of sauce, which is almost unheard of in my native state of NC, where eastern vs. western BBQ is as hotly contested a subject as the UNC/Duke rivalry. In SC, I've heard people talk about fruit-flavored sauces as a fifth style, but I'm not sure it is actually prevalent enough or distinct enough from the other styles to qualify.

                                          1. re: Low Country Jon

                                            You understand then, why "Carolina" to me means either North Carolina or the University thereof, and that other political subdivision must be specified as South Carolina, and why that explains why I've never heard of mustard-based sauces (as "Carolina" bbq ;-)

                                            1. re: momjamin

                                              Yes, my SC-raised wife and I still get into arguments about which university is actually "Carolina," since down here the word refers to the University of South Carolina. Raised a Tar Heel fan, I feel compelled to point out there is no such color as Carolina Red.

                                              And while my BBQ allegiance remains loyal to vinegar and pepper, I must admit mustard-based cue has been something of a revelation to me. It's actually much better than I would have assumed. Strangely, I also found an excellent version of Lexington cue in Charleston, at a place called The Hickory Hawg. While V&P and mustard cue are both common in and around Charleston, authentic tomato-based cue is a little harder to find.

                                              1. re: Low Country Jon

                                                Now we have to have the obligitory discussion on the variations of slaw for the pulled pork.

                                                Although I'm a pulled pork/vinegar and pepper/bruised slaw on a bun kind of guy, I did have some wonderful smoked bologna with mustard slaw at a little hole in the wall in Savannah.