Unique Regional Cuisine Defined by Location

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wanderingjew
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2003/09/11 10:28:09 (permalink)

Unique Regional Cuisine Defined by Location

I thought I would start this new thread. Roadfood is about experiencing something new and unique or the best of the best. I know there was a similar but very different thread about food that represents your state. However what are regional food that represents your city, neighborhood, or a regional part of a state or a regional part of the country? How many times do we go to a local restaurant and find something on the menu that we've never seen before, and then discover it's something unique to the area. Where are the best restaurants that we can find these unique (or not so unique) regional treasures???

Oop's, I thought I would go first, but forgot to contribute. I'll go with the NYC area, since this is where I grew up and spent the first 27 years of my life. I grew up on Long Island in a town with a large Jewish population and a decent sized italian population. We had bagels Knishes, Chopped Liver, Farfel, Potato Pudding, Kasha Varnishkes, Hebrew National Dogs with Sauerkraut and brown mustard, Corned Beef or Pastrami on rye, kischkes, tsimmis, matzoh ball soup, egg creams, rugelach and Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray Soda....On the other hand we had thin crust pizza's by the slice, heros, garlic knots, sausage rolls, calzones, zeppoles, and cannolis. And who can forget Manhattan Clam Chowder
#1

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    berndog
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    RE: Unique Regional Cuisine Defined by Location 2003/09/11 11:10:40 (permalink)
    Shalom WJ. Interesting topic. Rochester is well known for white hots (hot dog made from pork and veal only, no beef), and Nick Tahoe's garbage plates. A few other things we may not be known for, or may be less regional than we believe are Rochester style chicken wings, which differ from the typical Buffalo wings by being smothered in a thick syrupy sauce based on honey, mustard, and vinegar. This sauce served at many local establishments is based on the original Smitty's Birdland sauce. Smitty (Snuffy) Smith would deep fry one half a chicken in a fryer, then dip it into a vat of this sauce (choice of mild, or hot with some extra hot pepper flakes). Typically served on top of a slice of white bread to soak up extra sauce, with side of baked beans and macaroni salad.

    There are several local places specializing in this style of chicken, although the original Smitty's has been gone for years. Sal's Birdland and Tony's Birdland are two of the best.

    Another so-called regional food I love is Chicken (or veal) French. Served at most italian restaurants, it is a thin breast breaded with egg wash and crumbs, then sauted in a lemon white wine (or sherry) sauce. I never thought this was a local dish, but a recent article in the local paper claims it is not often found outside the Rochester area.

    Can't wait to hear about the other Rood Fooders local favorites. You folks always get my mouth watering and give interesting idea's for things to try when traveling.
    #2
    M&M
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    RE: Unique Regional Cuisine Defined by Location 2003/09/11 12:14:28 (permalink)
    Toasted ravoli, St. Paul sandwich, pork steaks all unique St. Louis favorites.
    #3
    RubyRose
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    RE: Unique Regional Cuisine Defined by Location 2003/09/11 12:19:35 (permalink)
    The first thing that comes to mind is browned butter. It's not drawn butter but butter that has been heated to have the milk solids browned. Order steamed clams, lobster, or a crabmeat cocktail in a local restaurant and that's what you'll be likely to get in that little stainless steel cup. Some old-time restaurants like the Willows in East Texas, PA will even serve it over vegetables. I'm not sure how far-ranging it is but I'd be interested to know if it's common in your area.
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    Mayhaw Man
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    RE: Unique Regional Cuisine Defined by Location 2003/09/11 12:23:43 (permalink)
    South Louisiana.

    Boudin blanc
    Boudin rouge
    Shrimp Creole
    Ettoufee
    Jambalaya
    Tasso
    Andouille
    Gumbo (in all of it's many variations)
    Nachitoches Meat Pies (not south, but central LA)
    Beignets (not unique, but ubiquitos)

    #5
    hilldweller
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    RE: Unique Regional Cuisine Defined by Location 2003/09/11 13:06:00 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by wanderingjew

    I grew up on Long Island in a town with a large Jewish population and a decent sized italian population.


    Did you grow up in Matzohpizza?
    #6
    wanderingjew
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    RE: Unique Regional Cuisine Defined by Location 2003/09/11 13:23:45 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by hilldweller

    quote:
    Originally posted by wanderingjew

    I grew up on Long Island in a town with a large Jewish population and a decent sized italian population.


    Did you grow up in Matzohpizza?


    No, Merrick.
    #7
    hilldweller
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    RE: Unique Regional Cuisine Defined by Location 2003/09/11 13:25:27 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by wanderingjew

    quote:
    Originally posted by hilldweller

    quote:
    Originally posted by wanderingjew

    I grew up on Long Island in a town with a large Jewish population and a decent sized italian population.


    Did you grow up in Matzohpizza?


    No, Merrick.


    Me too. Didn't everyone in Merrick call Massapequa "Matzhopizza?"
    #8
    wanderingjew
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    RE: Unique Regional Cuisine Defined by Location 2003/09/11 13:30:12 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by hilldweller

    quote:
    Originally posted by wanderingjew

    quote:
    Originally posted by hilldweller

    quote:
    Originally posted by wanderingjew

    I grew up on Long Island in a town with a large Jewish population and a decent sized italian population.


    Did you grow up in Matzohpizza?


    No, Merrick.


    Oh yes, brings back memories!

    Me too. Didn't everyone in Merrick call Massapequa "Matzhopizza?"
    #9
    KimChee43
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    RE: Unique Regional Cuisine Defined by Location 2003/09/11 14:02:25 (permalink)
    CHICAGO AREA: paper-thin pizza crust, Italian beef sandwiches, Chicago-style hotdogs, gyros, saganaki ("flaming cheese"--supposedly invented at the Parthenon in Chicago's Greektown), "thin" chili (similar to the kind served at Wendy's), a kind of casserole called something like "Mazzetti"?, which everybody's mom had a version of (elbow macaroni, canned tomatoes, hamburger, onion combined and baked in the oven is a typical version)
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    rbpalmer
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    RE: Unique Regional Cuisine Defined by Location 2003/09/11 14:41:25 (permalink)
    This subject brings two regional specialties to mind. Since I live in Washington, D.C., which is near the Chesapeake Bay, the first is steamed hard shell blue crabs. I have spent many a happy hour seated at a table covered with newspaper with a pile of well-seasoned crabs before me and a wooden mallet or nutcracker, a few ice-cold beers and good friends to keep me company. The best local places that I have found to enjoy this delicacy are Cameron's Seafood Market, 8807 Central Avenue, Capitol Heights, Maryland, 301-350-7100 (which is just off the Washington DC beltway portion of I-95, exit 15) and Ernie's Crabhouse at 4305 Bladensburg Rd. in Brentwood, Maryland (301-779-4305). Cameron's has other locations throughout the D.C. area, and their other dishes are also very good (try the ultimate seafood platter).

    The second regional specialty is one that I encountered during several trips on routes I-79 and US-50 through western West Virginia. It is the pepperoni roll, which, as the name implies, consists of sticks of pepperoni baked into rolls. Although bags of them are sold at local convenience stores, the best are available at places that bake them on the premises, such as Colassesano's (sp?) and the Country Club Bakery in Fairmont, WV and Tomaro's in Clarksburg, WV. All of these places are reviewed by the Sterns on the website. Colasessano's is my favorite because theirs are bigger and can be ordered with other fillings such as peppers, tomato sauce and cheese. Delicious!
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    tiki
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    RE: Unique Regional Cuisine Defined by Location 2003/09/11 14:45:30 (permalink)
    I grew up in a samll town outside of Boston so as you can guess we had all the traditional New England dishes that are allways talked about ,but i remember one that i only saw in one resteraunt ever---Berched chicken----it was Killer!!!The specialty of the House at Ma Glockners---see the review section for aSterns eye view---it was roasted first---we3ry slowly and finished off on a grill with a heavey weight press that gave it a great crispy outside and melt in your mouth inside---we used to go about once a month when i was real young--then for a while we lived right down the street and could walk down there and get dinner--my mom got out of cooking one meal a week then! Also, most of the folks we knew were hunters---especially pheasant--and a locaql favorite at club meetings and gatherings was pheasaqnt caccitore----my mouth waters just thinking about it!!!

    Another item i only ever saw in one place was something called "Scalone"--it was served in a small inn in Capitola Calif---by Santa Cruz----cant remeber the name of it though-not wanting to waste even the smallest bits of abalone, the cooks would take all the tiny scraps and mix the with diced scallops and form into a flat patty the they would bread and fry---it was AWESOME---they had it either as a sandwich at lunch or served with a sauce at dinner. Wish i had THAT recipe!! If anyone else has had it--can you remember the name of the resteraunt??
    #12
    Spudnut
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    RE: Unique Regional Cuisine Defined by Location 2003/09/11 14:55:08 (permalink)
    I grew up in Niagara Falls, outside of Buffalo. So, naturally, chicken wings (what everyone else seems to call Buffalo wings, ironically) were/are a big deal, as is the blue cheese that goes with it (Rootie's being my personal favorite.)

    Another, almost equally big deal is the beef on weck sandwich which, unlike wings, have not expanded beyond the area as far as I can tell. Beef on weck is roast beef, usually topped with horse radish, on a kimmelweck roll. A kimmelweck roll is a thick, bready, highly salted roll. They are very popular in Western NY. Much like Rochester, hot dogs are also very popular near Buffalo. A brand called Sahlen (sic) is popular, and a true roadfood-type restaurant called Ted's serves the only hot dogs I've ever cared about; char-grilled.

    Another area food I don't often see elsewhere is sponge candy. Not too sure how to explain what it is: chocolate covered, and kind of sticky and, yes, spongy, inside. Jello shots are also more popular there than they seem to be elsewhere (i.e., make Jello, replaced water with vodka.)

    Finally, I notice I get funny looks here when I put vinegar on my fries. At least, I THINK that's why people are looking at me funny. Back home, a decent number of people eat them that way, which I think is the Canadian influence (who were themselves influenced by the Brits, I suppose.)

    Berndog, I can't believe you discussed Rochester and didn't mention grape pies (the subject of another thread I mercifully won't re-create here....)
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    tamandmik
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    RE: Unique Regional Cuisine Defined by Location 2003/09/11 15:00:21 (permalink)
    South Jersey, I believe scrapple is a delicacy whose region coincides with Amish populations. I have seen it as far west as Gettysburg and as far south as Sussex County Delaware. I most recently bought a loaf from an Amish weekend sale here at the Dutch Market on rt 70 in Evesham, and concluded that the scrapple boundary might very well coincide with Amish-settled areas. One more unique food, truly unique to maybe a 30 mile radius, is the Tarantini Panzarotti, which, essentially is a deep-fried calzone. This dish is extremely tasty, and uniquely South Jersey. My friends and family in North Jersey look at me like I have 3 heads when I describe it to them.
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    KimChee43
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    RE: Unique Regional Cuisine Defined by Location 2003/09/11 15:04:23 (permalink)
    Just remembered two more from the Chicago area...Shrimp de Jonghe and Chicken Vesuvio.
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    Sundancer7
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    RE: Unique Regional Cuisine Defined by Location 2003/09/11 15:11:29 (permalink)
    In Nova Scotia gravy is routinely served with French Fries.

    Paul E. Smith
    Knoxville, TN
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    brookquarry
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    RE: Unique Regional Cuisine Defined by Location 2003/09/11 18:21:23 (permalink)
    living at the northeast edge of Pennsylvanias lehigh valley we have an interesting overlap of regional cuisines. We are still(barely) part of the pennsylvania dutch country and thus such delicacies as shoe fly pie and chow chow are commonly available, at local restaurants along with (less commonly) such dutch dishes as pigs stomach and red beet eggs. (By the way ruby rose you havn't lived until you've tried browned butter on egg noodles). We are also part of the pierogie belt and virtually every diner serves them as a side dish(Usually Mrs. T'S frozen perogies unfortunately) .But the one dish unique to our little area is pasties. Introduced by cornish slate quariers who would take them down into the quarry holes as lunch pastys have become the signature cuisine of our area known popularly as the Slate Belt They are on the menu in every diner in the area, are a frequent church fund raiser,and there are even two local retail outlets- Maries pasties- a store front bakery and MR. Pastie which sells fresh pasties locally, and frozen pasties to supermarkets.
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    harriet1954
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    RE: Unique Regional Cuisine Defined by Location 2003/09/11 18:36:39 (permalink)
    Brookquarry, my former mother-in-law hails originally from Duluth, Minnesota, and when I lived in California she constantly served pasties...and she said they were unique to Minnesota! Hmmm...
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    wanderingjew
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    RE: Unique Regional Cuisine Defined by Location 2003/09/11 18:43:15 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by shaynas_mom

    Brookquarry, my former mother-in-law hails originally from Duluth, Minnesota, and when I lived in California she constantly served pasties...and she said they were unique to Minnesota! Hmmm...


    From what I understand, they are also unique to Michigan and Montana.
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    Sundancer7
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    RE: Unique Regional Cuisine Defined by Location 2003/09/11 19:24:09 (permalink)
    In East Tennessee, it is definately country ham, grits, collards, corn bread, fried corn, fried okra, country sausage, fried eggs in sausage oil, sausage gravy, green beans, tomatoes, onions, blackberry pie, apple pie, pumpkin pie, bisquits and whatever.

    Paul E. Smith
    Knoxville, TN
    #20
    wanderingjew
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    RE: Unique Regional Cuisine Defined by Location 2003/09/11 19:26:36 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Sundancer7

    In East Tennessee, it is difinately country ham, grits, collards, corn bread, fried corn, fried okra, country sausage, fried eggs in sausage oil, sausage gravy, green beans, tomatoes, onions, blackberry pie, apple pie, pumpkin pie, bisquits and whatever.

    Paul E. Smith
    Knoxville, TN


    Yumm!

    I can hear my arteries clogging already!
    #21
    4fish
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    RE: Unique Regional Cuisine Defined by Location 2003/09/11 21:35:57 (permalink)
    I'm not sure if this is unique to this area, but at least I've never seen it elsewhere. In western Wisconsin, many of the churches and non-profit organizations do chicken-ques as fundraisers. Chicken halves are grilled over coals and brushed with a butter/salt/seasoning mixture. They're most often served with potato salad, baked beans and coleslaw but some places do potatoes baked in foil instead of the potato salad. For $6.00 that's a pretty hearty lunch. There are a couple of local caterers that specialize in it. They do the chickens for a lot of the non-profit organizations, but most of the churches use home-grown labor for the grilling.

    Another local item (I think) is the potato chip sandwich, but you won't find them in restaurants. You'd probably have to go to a funeral in the area to get them. It's church-basement food. You mix equal amounts of Cheese Whiz and butter, spread it on light rye, press in potato chips and serve open-faced.
    #22
    Ort. Carlton.
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    RE: Unique Regional Cuisine Defined by Location 2003/09/11 22:47:41 (permalink)
    Dearfolk,
    These immediately come to mind:
    Livermush - my favorite breakfast food - served with eggs, naturally. Common in Piedmont North Carolina, Upstate South Carolina, and leaking over state lines a tad here and there. Made with pork liver, cornmeal, and spices. Makes a right nice sandwich, too.
    Goetta - second cousin of the above. Common breakfast fare in the Cincinnati area. Uses oats instead of cornmeal, although I don't know what meat is used: probably pork.
    Barbecued Mutton - ubiquitous in the area of Owensboro, Paducah, and Henderson, Kentucky and Evansville, Indiana. Served with a unique sauce called Black Dip. The favored side disk is Burgoo, a spicy stew similar to:
    Brunswick Stew - a common side dish with barbecue in the South; may have originated in Brunswick County, Virginia, in North Carolina, or elsewhere. Consists shredded pork and chicken, plus a slew of vegetables (okra, corn, and tomatoes most usually).
    Chicken Mull - a variation on chicken soup found in N/E Georgia and adjacent Upstate South Carolina. It's simply chicken stewed with a thickener and minimal spices. I refer to it as Pentecostal Penicillin because it is often served at Holiness Church homecomings up the road from here. In Oconee County, Georgia, the Disciples Of Christ churches (who are not Pentecostals) have it, too. So do several fire departments - at "fund raisin'" time!
    Cornbread cooked on the grill: flat - the commonest variety around Nashville, Tennessee.
    Mustard-based barbecue sauce - the preferred version in much of the central part of South Carolina, and - magically - it reappears with similar ubiquity in and around Columbus, Georgia. I prefer the brown mustard version, myself: more "oomph".
    Cole slaw on a barbecue sandwich - what you'll get in Piedmont North Carolina unless you ask it off. Outlanders find this custom appalling, but I have grown to appreciate it. Which reminds me:
    Red slaw - served in the Lexington, North Carolina area. Contains more vinegar than any self-respecting salad ever was dosed with.
    Hush puppies - fried bits of seasoned corn meal that were tossed to the dogs while families were eating so as to quiet and pacify them until the meal was done.
    Swamp cabbage - the growing heart of the palm tree, served in parts of rural Florida and greatly resembling regular old steamed cabbage.
    Those are all that immediately come to mind. This spacer bar doesn't wanttowork.
    Food For Thinkingly, Ort. Carlton in Southern Fried Athens, Georgia.
    #23
    ocdreamr
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    RE: Unique Regional Cuisine Defined by Location 2003/09/11 23:03:04 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by wanderingjew

    quote:
    Originally posted by shaynas_mom

    Brookquarry, my former mother-in-law hails originally from Duluth, Minnesota, and when I lived in California she constantly served pasties...and she said they were unique to Minnesota! Hmmm...


    From what I understand, they are also unique to Michigan and Montana.


    Anywhere you find the Welsh miners you will find the pastie, for that is where they come from. They were a way for the miner to take a meal with him into the mine.

    As to Maryland - steamed crabs, yes, but also Maryland crab soup, made from scratch with crab bodies & claws, not just crab meat dumped into vegetable soup. Maryland fried chicken, Bergers cookies - an excuse for eating lots of chocolate icing(available in most groceries & convenience stores in the Baltimore area)http://www.bergercookies.com/index.htm. Pit Beef sandwiches - pit grilled beef served on a kaiser roll with horseradish & BBQ sauce - found in multiple stands around Baltimore but most notibly out Pulaski Highway
    #24
    Lucky Bishop
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    RE: Unique Regional Cuisine Defined by Location 2003/09/12 03:46:37 (permalink)
    I lived in Russell, Kansas, for nine months (that seemed like nine years) in the early '80s. My junior high cafeteria served a local specialty called a bierock, which was what I'd known growing up in Colorado as a cabbageburger: shredded cabbage, ground beef, onions and salt cooked together and then encased in a dough that's similar to the kind of only lightly-sweetened kolache dough that you most often find in my ancestral homeland of central Texas wrapped arround smoked sausages.

    In retrospect, this sounds pretty good, but as a kid, I hated these things. The fact that I publicly expressed distaste for bierocks was only one of many reasons why I was treated as a pariah at that school.

    Living in Boston now, I can think of two local specialties that I've only ever seen in Chinese restaurants here:

    1. Peking ravioli, commonly known locally as "ravs." Basically, these are potstickers, but they're fried browner and crisper than you see potstickers done in the rest of the country, and they tend to have a very gingery filling. This is extremely old-school Boston Chinese, now found only at the places where the chefs were taught by Joyce Chen herself.

    2. Periwinkles, sometimes on the menu as "sea snails." This is probably a Cantonese thing, but because Boston's Chinatown is the only one I've become familiar with that's predominantly Cantonese rather than Schezwan, Boston is the only city in North America where I can be assured that I'll find periwinkles on the menu. (I'm told they're popular in Vancouver as well -- perhaps the first generations of Cantonese immigrants gravitated towards coastal cities to remind them of home!) They come piled about six inches high on the platter, little shells that look like miniature escargot, usually in a hot chili and black bean sauce with lotsa garlic. They give you a bowl of toothpicks and you go to it, picking up a shell and digging the toothpick on in there to spear the little nugget of meat. This is the sort of meal you order when you don't mind taking a while and you've got good conversational partners.
    #25
    brookquarry
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    RE: Unique Regional Cuisine Defined by Location 2003/09/12 08:18:50 (permalink)
    ocdreamer is right about pasties being a miners meal,except my understanding has been that it was cornish miners (from Cornwall in England) that introduced the dish to America. In our area slate qauriers of other ethnic backgrounds-Italian, Welsh, Pennsylvania Dutch, rapidly adopted the dish and it is now ubiquitous.
    #26
    Bushie
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    RE: Unique Regional Cuisine Defined by Location 2003/09/12 08:55:30 (permalink)
    A somewhat "unique" item for central Texas may be Migas (eggs scrambled with tortilla chips, hot peppers, onions, tomatoes, topped with cheese). I have heard the claim that they were "invented" at an Austin restaurant, but I don't know if that's true. Generally a breakfast item, many restaurants serve them any time of day.

    Other foods around here that might be considered "best of" would include brisket, huevos rancheros, breakfast tacos, chicken-fried steak, and Tex-Mex in general. Because of the heavy Czech and German influences around the area, we have some wonderful sausages available.

    (Did you ever consider that sausage may be the "universal" food Seems like every place on earth has their own way of doing sausages, and everyone thinks theirs is the best.)

    If you're ever down here in early summer, Texas Hill Country Peaches (freestone) are about the best in the country. In late fall, Texas pecans are available and yummy.

    Not a food item, but in March/April, the Bluebonnets are in bloom along the highways and fields. Depending on prior rainfall, the thickness will vary, but on a good year, there is little on the earth that is as beautiful as a field of Bluebonnets. Like looking across a blue ocean...
    #27
    Lone Star
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    RE: Unique Regional Cuisine Defined by Location 2003/09/12 10:03:31 (permalink)
    I think we are very lucky in Texas, as we have so many food influences from either our sister states or the large communites of Czech/German/Alsation descent, and of course Mexico.

    I would have to say that the roots of Texas cooking would be similiar to those listed by the Sundancer and other posters from the south, good country cooking with an emphasis on economy.

    Of course, Tex-Mex is our number one regional specialty, but it is not so regional anymore, but the best is still here.

    Bushie - you did not mention Pecos cantelopes, our beautiful, sweet fruits from the arid Pecos Valley. There is something about the soil there that makes them the best in the world.

    For a pure Texas traditional food not made anywhere anymore except festivals, I offer up
    Son-of-a Gun stew. My great-uncle who cowboyed for years on the 6666 ranch used to cook this up in a big cast iron pot at family gatherings at my great-grandmothers. Not for the faint of heart.

    Son-of-a-Gun Stew

    1/4 pound beef suet, finely chopped
    1 calf heart, cut in small pieces
    1 calf liver, cut in small pieces
    2 calf kidneys, cut in small pieces
    Marrow gut, chopped
    1 pound sweetbreads, simmered in salt water and membrane removed
    1/2 pound brain, soaked in salt water, deveined and cubed
    1 large onion, chopped
    1 can of tomatoes
    2 cups beef broth
    Hot peppers, as desired
    #28
    M&M
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    • Joined: 2002/11/11 14:45:00
    • Location: Saint Louis, MO
    • Status: offline
    RE: Unique Regional Cuisine Defined by Location 2003/09/12 10:11:53 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Sundancer7

    In Nova Scotia gravy is routinely served with French Fries.

    Paul E. Smith
    Knoxville, TN


    With cheese curds on top. Called poteen if I'm not mistaken.
    #29
    Michael Stern
    Double Chili Cheeseburger
    • Total Posts : 1034
    • Joined: 2000/11/19 18:12:00
    • Location: Bethel, CT
    • Status: offline
    RE: Unique Regional Cuisine Defined by Location 2003/09/12 10:19:42 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by KimChee43

    CHICAGO AREA: paper-thin pizza crust, Italian beef sandwiches, Chicago-style hotdogs, gyros, saganaki ("flaming cheese"--supposedly invented at the Parthenon in Chicago's Greektown), "thin" chili (similar to the kind served at Wendy's), a kind of casserole called something like "Mazzetti"?, which everybody's mom had a version of (elbow macaroni, canned tomatoes, hamburger, onion combined and baked in the oven is a typical version)


    I never knew Italian beef was unique to Chicago ... until I moved away and couldn't find it anywhere. Heaven forbid I ever leave Connecticut to somewhere without hot lobster rolls!
    #30
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