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Terrific Local Foods You'd Never Want to Vanish

I thought this would be a fun topic, hopefully it hasn't been posted before. I'm interested in hearing about great local dishes/foods that folks love from all over the country. Here in humble NJ, we have the tomato pie. Pizza, but made with tomatoes, not sauce, and includes parmesan on the dough, thin crust, less cheese. Tangy and delicious. Some favorite purveyors are De Lorenzo, Pappa's (the second oldest pizzeria in the U.S.) and Top Road Tavern. Just as New England has their fried clams, Louisville has its hot browns, each region has its own unique, terrific food that you crave if you move out of town. Which foods or cuisine do you love from your city or state?

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  1. I'm from NJ originally, and boy do I miss Pork Roll! Especially every local deli having pork roll, egg & cheese on a hard roll for breakfast. yum!

    1. I don't like seeing ANY of the regional quirks that define our little hamlets and havens die off. There's more than just the emblematic foods like a cheesesteak, fried ravioli, chili 5-ways or Italian beef I want to preserve (emblems of Philly, St. Louis, Cincy, and Chicago), but more foods that really define a people as unique, like:
      Minnesota Hotdish (tater tots casserole over what looks like Alpo)
      Horseshoe sandwiches in Springfield, IL (open face ham sandwich on sourdough topped with horseradish cheddar sauce and french fries)
      White Hots in the Buffalo-Rochester area (uncured sausages)
      Garbage Plates in Rochester (fries and mac salad topped with cheeseburger patties, mustard, onions and a beef-based gravy)
      Green River soda in Chicago (a vaguely lime-flavored soda more properly termed a HFCS delivery drink)

      1 Reply
      1. re: JungMann

        Ahhhhhh Green River floats. The perfect end to a hot (non-air conditioned) summer day for this baby boomer kid. Is Wayne's Red Coach in Springfield still open?

      2. Lifelong Chicagoan:

        I would hate to lose the Italian Beef Sandwich, the Beef and Sausage Combo, and the Chicago Style Hot Dog.

        I personally could care or less about allegedly "Chicago Style Pizza"(I have lived here all my life, and we eat thin crust pizza) & wouldn't mind if it vanished, give me a coal fired "New Haven Style Pizza" anyday.

        3 Replies
        1. re: swsidejim

          I live in NYC but I have been eating beef and sausage combos all week thanks to a to the Jewel with my carry-on luggage during my last visit to Chi. Now if only I had remembered to get some Green River, my lunch today would be complete.

          1. re: JungMann

            I dont think I have ever had Green River, I see it at the soda fountain at a beef shop I go to, but have never tried it. I will now.

            1. re: swsidejim

              It's very much an acquired taste. For some reason it also seems more popular on the North Side than on the South Side.

        2. The fish in the gulf of Maine have basically disappeared. The once plentiful cod will never return. The lobstermen are afraid that a virus in the Long Island area will move north, wipe out the lobsters and end the generational fishing culture. Boy I'd miss the lobster, clam, crab, scallop or shrimp rolls. Salt fish w/ pork scraps have disappeared from restaurants and fish cakes and beans are hard to find.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Passadumkeg

            Our local Fraser river spawning salmon and their cousins; the Kumamoto oysters raised just down the road from me, served raw (no cocktail sauce!!!); and our wonderful local coffee culture! I think the Stumptown latte should be on the state flag eventually... I'm proud to live in Western Washington.

            1. re: Passadumkeg

              The area was being overfished when we lived there a decade ago. It's really sad. No more codsteaks. When I started living there in the 80s, Legal Seafood served everything. The seafood is still high quality but it often comes from far away. I miss the Old Boston. I wonder if Union Oyster House still has their stellar clam chowder.

              1. re: bistro66

                Yes, and they recently (the last year or 2) their hundredth anniv. and oyster prices for the day were the same as 1807!

            2. here in wisconsin, we have our cheese, beer, and brats, and i'd hate to see any of that go (the good stuff, not the mass produced stuff they slap a "wisconsin" label on to make it sell). i'd really hate to see any of the microbreweries go - they're making some great stuff. wisconsin also makes some great mustards (our silver spring mustards have won many world wide awards - http://www.silverspringfoods.com/awar...), and is also the one of top producers for the world's horseradish supply (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horseradish).

              1. I would hate to see our delicious U.P. of Michigan cudighis go................... a cudighi and a beer (or two)................................. sigh.............................. :)

                4 Replies
                  1. re: Lindseyup67

                    Or The UPers: "Deer Camp" and "One Beer Short of a Six Pack" the UP is also about the only source for Finnish restaurant food in the USA. Hoova! Hoova!

                    1. Gravenstein apples and Blenheim apricots. Every year more orchards are replaced with vineyards.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Brandon Nelson

                        Amen, from someone whose mother has been canning Gravenstein applesauce every August since she was knee-high to a grasshopper, well over three decades ago. And there's no better expression of apricot than the Blenheim.

                        1. re: Brandon Nelson

                          Blenheim apricots are fantastic. I mailorder them. Apricot King is the main web vendor. It does seem like they are getting harder to get!

                        2. Texas hill country BBQ: WORLD'S BEST.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: Joebob

                            But Lockart is not in the hill country. The taco al pastor too.

                            1. re: Passadumkeg

                              Any and all Tex-Mex, which is different than Mexican food in any other part of the country. Not superior, mind you, just different. Cheese or beef enchiladas smothered in chili gravy. A true aficionado can taste the subtle differences blindfolded when presented with enchiladas from five different Tex-Mex establishments.

                              1. re: Thefoodczar

                                Esse! A New Mex Enchilada, stacked, red or green, not polluted w/ tomatoes or tomatillos w/ a fried egg on top! Chimayo or Hatch chile, por favor. Menudo, tamales and sopapaillas.

                              2. re: Passadumkeg

                                Lockhart might not be in Hill Country but Coopers BBQ in Llano is! :)

                            2. Not sure if they really originated in Seattle, but a hot dog slathered w/ cream cheese and carmelized onions is a beautiful 2am meal that I'd sorely miss were it to disappear...Also known as a Seattle Cream Cheese Dog...

                              1. In NYC black and white cookies, bialys (but they seem to be vanished except for Kossars and a few sub-par places make them.), clam pies.

                                In San Francisco - It's -It Ice Cream sandwiches!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: bouffe

                                  I haven't seen a clam pie in a very long time. They were a tradition on the Twin Forks of LI. These days I don't know who still makes them.
                                  The one thing that I regret seeing lost here on Long Island are Peconic Bay Scallops. These very small gems were incredible, I'd squeeze a little lemon and eat them raw. Unfortunately, algae blooms in Peconic Bay have ruined the commerical crop and the scallops are almost non existent. A Shame. Next thing to be lost will be Long Island Sound Lobsters if nothing is done soon.

                                2. A great topic. I tend to ramble, so forgive me if I take the topic too far afield.
                                  I am in NJ also...the early waves of immigration from Hungary, Poland, Italy, etc. blessed our region with a carnival of ethnic food delights which sadly have already begun disappearing. And these ethnic foods definitely qualify as our "local" foods.

                                  One simple, basic, once common thing that has been increasingly hard to find any more is a decent "hard roll", or kaiser roll. So many of the bakeries run by the many Eastern European immigrant families (Hungarian, Polish, etc.) have long disappeared and we are stuck by and large with the prefab, parbaked, and otherwise largely inferior bakery products offered by the in-store supermarket bakeries. How I miss the great old fashioned hard rolls from these family bakeries...rolls with a thin but very crispy poppyseeded crust and a soft and velvety interior.

                                  Disappearing fast also are the real, traditional Jewish delicatessans (sometimes Kosher, but often Kosher "style") where the corned beef and pastrami (often house cured) was steamed to succulent tenderness all day for an eating experience that folks who have had only the now ubiquitous boiled or (horrors) microwave heated versions can not even begin to imagine.

                                  Another fast disappearing favorite is the ethnic butcher shop...the Italian "Pork Stores" and Hungarian and Polish shops with their home made lunchmeats and sausages. There are still a few around these parts but as the ethnic make-up of a town or region either shifts or homogenizes, so many of these places are going by the wayside. Fortunately some interesting alternatives do come in, especially as large Asian and Hispanic communities establish themselves. In central NJ, for example, there are a number of incredibly well stocked Asian supermarkets which are better than anything you would find even in large metropolitan "Chinatown" communities in NY, Toronto, and San Francisco.

                                  But sadly, many of the great traditional favorites from the early waves of European immigration into our country are slowly disappearing as subsequent generations turn their noses up at specialty items and ethnic foods that were staples of our ancestors.

                                  Things change. Tastes change. There was a bakery in Red Bank, NJ that once sold the most remarkable and incredible baguette loaves ever. A crusty marvel, perfectly made, and there were always dozens of them in the bin to be had. After purchasing them there regularly for a couple of years, some travel kept me away for a few months. Upon my return I went in one day to get my baguette fix and they were mysteriously absent. I inquired about it, and they told my they were no longer selling them because incresing numbers of customers were complaining that the hard crust must indicate that the loaves were stale! Another favorite done in by a kind of lowest common denominator "white bread" mentality.

                                  I try to keep some of these old favorites alive by reproducing them myself...sometimes reverse engineering them or researching methods, often with great success, though sometimes resulting in a mere shadow that at least brings a semi satisfying "sense memory". But I do get nostalgic about some things that I worry I will never taste or experience again. Maybe the new "foodie" trend will wake folks up and cause enterprising people to preserve (or revive) some of the endangered food species once so common.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: The Professor

                                    I don't ramble, usually. A buttered roll (Say what?). Taylor Pork Roll on a Kaiser w/ a fried egg and ketchup

                                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                                      Amen to that. The hard rolls in NJ aren't what they used to be, for sure. (neither are the pizza or the subs, but I always get them when I'm home in the hopes that they will be)

                                    2. re: The Professor

                                      If you have a good recipe for kaiser rolls, please post it or a link. I found one an artisan bread website but haven't tried it yet.

                                    3. NE Ohio.... on the south side where its predominantly Jewish, the bagels and good cream cheese....kosher hot dogs and salami...jewish mustard....corned beef and kraut

                                      on the west side....wedding soup...italian bread...sausage...cavatells....good pizza

                                      on the north side....barbeque. plain and simple...no screwing around.

                                      on the east side...fruit markets (when there isnt 4 feet of snow), pig and lamb on a spit...souvlaki, gyros and good and tangy tzasiki!

                                      1. Maryland Blue Crabs. They are in danger and we are not doing enough about it to insure that the crabs will be there for eternity.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: nosey

                                          A soft shell crab sandwich on rye.

                                        2. From St. Louis Missouri (via an old time East St. Louis, Illinois family):

                                          My favorite: toasted ravioli - can't get anough!
                                          My mother's favorite: chicken feet soup and brain sandwiches

                                          Other local favorites that would cause an uprising if they disappeared:

                                          frozen custard (not ice cream)
                                          cracker thin pizza crusts ("St. Louis style") with provel cheese instead of mozz
                                          gooey butter cake

                                          1. Cornell BBQ chicken (aka state fair chicken) http://counties.cce.cornell.edu/erie/...

                                            Both from upstate NY.

                                            The inputs seem so simple, but the outcomes are SO good.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. From the Midwest - fried pork tenderloin sandwiches - the meat way bigger than the bun - (DH is from Iowa).