Is Florida the next Foodie Hotspot? - Wall Street Journal
I agree with some of the points he makes. Florida has been ignored as a culinary destination. I think that Passy is right that Florida markets itself as a beach and fishing destination with a heavy dose of theme park thrown in.
It is interesting, I think, that Florida has been the crossroads of Caribbean, Spanish, Cuban, generally Latino, and Cracker cultures and the food reflects this. Yet few people outside of Florida seem to be aware of this to the same extent that the general American public is aware of the cultural fusions of Spanish, French, Cajun, and Creole cuisines in New Orleans.
Another factor that Passy does not mention is-ahem-a certain amount of culinary jingoism by foodies from other parts of the country. (Culinarily, we were regarded--at least until recently, according to Passy--"fly over country"!
I submit we are still an area known for lowest common denominator tourist food. Chowhound has us divded into Miami-Ft. Lauderdale and what is left over. Our food traditions have largely developed since the 1880s with the introduction of the rail roads into the southern 9/10ths of the state.
Other than the arrival in Miami of the Cubans in the last 50 years, we really do not have an identifiable food culture. It use to be local seafood, but we have destroyed our fish stocks and local fishing fleets are dwindling or disappeared. Here is a list of what I have seen disappear from restaurant menus and rarely seen on the specials board:
Local fresh shrimp
Whole spiny lobster
oysters other than Atchafalaya
The only items that I have seen make a comeback are alligator and dolphin.
This state has an extensive cattle industry centered in Kissimee, but how often do you see ads touting our grass fed angus or brahma beef? Our citrus industry is primarily for juice, and sugar only exists here with imported cane cutters and money props from Congress. Many of our crops have been designed for surviving the many pests and funguses of the sub-tropics as well as storage and shipping. If you have ever had the strawberries at a fest, you would probably agree that they were not designed with flavor in mind. My local seafood fest no longer has anything local except for the hushpuppies. And the Zellwood sweet corn fest is another fond memory.
There are always exceptions, but other than Greater Miami, what percentage equates a Florida vacaton with food as well as sun, sand, and theme parks?
Other than the early bird special.
My proofreading is spotty, but I do not see where itakian cropped up. Always open to correction.
Sorry if you missread my take on the Florida beef industry.
Beef in Florida is almost as old as Ponce de Leon's arrival. 500 years ago last month. The current craze for grass fed fits well with many ranches. It has not to my knowledge been capitolised on.
And if you want a factual take on the Florida beef industry in a work of fiction, I strongly recommend "A Land Remembered".
There are at least 4 grass fed small ranches within 3/4 hr. of my home in Fort Myers...most supplying restaurants but individuals can buy from them.
The restaurants we like to go to get most of their fish from the fleet in Fort Myers Beach or Matlacha or Isles of Capri (stone crab). We get deep sea black grouper from a friend who sells only to certain local restaurants. Fresh scallops are to be had near Crystal River and Homosassa. Appalachicola oysters are our favorites and pink gulf shrimp is great.
There are quite a few hydroponic farms growing interesting vegetables and while not organic by virtue of their method, they have great flavor, especially the strawberries and tomatoes.
I've been to French Laundry, Trotters, Le Bernardin, etc. etc. and really could care less to have such preciousness in Naples, etc. Casual lifestyles lend themselves to the locally sourced menus and we are happy to have them.
Come on, you could pretty much surmise the "l' in italian. Anybody who grew up in Tampa would have a problem with the "no meatball in Fla" statement. Ridiculous!
And a better factual take in a work of fiction on the Fla beef industry, i recommend the Peter Mathieson books: Killing Mr. Watson, Bone by Bone, Shadow Country, etc...