Of Thee I Read: The United States in Literature [The New York Times] Reporters and editors on the National Desk of The New York Times were asked to suggest books that a visitor ought to read to truly understand the American cities and regions where they live, work and travel. There were no restrictions — novels, memoirs, histories and children’s books were fair game. Here are some selections. Recommend a book that captures something special about where you live in the comments, or on Twitter with the hashtag #natbooks. [more inside]
Here's The Daily Meal's list of 10 favorite regional soft drinks (SLIDESHOW). And here's Mental Floss's stories behind 11 regional soft drinks. More info follows.... [more inside]
"For any given profession, it turns out that there are certain names that appear more often in that profession than in the general population. Here's a chart with 6 of the names that are the most disproportionately common in 37 professions." [more inside]
Recently on The Blue we've had discussions about American Chop Suey and New Jersey Pork Roll, but what about other regional favorites, like Lutefisk, Scrapple, or the French Dip Sandwich? Just in time for Thanksgiving, here are a few links to get you started:
The Dissolve (previously, previously) looks at the Coen Brothers' 1996 "homespun Midwestern murder story" Fargo: Masculinity And Mike Yanagita, Keynote: Fargo in Five Quotes, Morality And The Coens
I grew up in Minnesota, home of a particular passive-aggressive communication style which is summed up nicely by this chart and subsequent comments. Of particular import is the difference between "that's different" and "that's sure different" (though there isn't mention of "that's real different," which I think means just about the same thing) and examples of Minnesota Enthusiastic Neutral. Also worth noting is the classic book by sometime A Prairie Home Companion regular Howard Mohr, How to Talk Minnesotan. [more inside]
Sure, you've heard of Burning Man, that art festival/intentional community/temporary autonomous zone thing in the desert, but did you know that it has spawned a host of events called regional burns? As the name implies, these are smaller and mainly draw a local crowd; they operate under a charter from the Burning Man organization and all abide by its Ten Principles. Most are in North America, but they have crossed the pond with Nowhere in Spain. [more inside]
Food is just part of the regional culture that's getting neutralized. The national highway system, chain restaurants, and frozen food may have decimated regional delicacies such as Kentucky burgoo, South Carolina perloo, and Wisconsin hoppel poppel but... [more inside]
Lone Star Beer. Immortalized in song, it bills itself as the National Beer of Texas. Once brewed in what is now known as the historic San Antonio Pearl Brewery, it's still brewed in Texas, though Texas anti-hipsters will be chagrined to know that Lone Star's latest owner (since 1999) is Milwaukee-based Pabst. Still, it's the cheapest beer in Texas, and the bottles have an extra perk: a rebusnot this guy on the inside of the cap. (A good bartender or waitperson'll bring you that with yer longnecknot this one.) This guy has collected nearly all (he's missing TWO!) of the 400+ puzzles and their answers. Metafilter, it's beer-fifteen.
My coworker from Buffalo NY brought in a bunch of sponge candy from back home and I was just about the only one who liked it. You can also make the stuff at home. Well someone can. Apparently it can only be made in winter, on account of the temperature needing to be just right for the crunchy center to set. Don't let the hot wings steal your glory, sponge candy! Which are also available, rendered in chocolate from the same site.
Birds that rap and cows with accents. The big picture is urban adaptation, which is pretty cool. (...and the egg wins.)
What is on your bumper? Are bumper stickers a relic of the past? Are they more/less prevalent by region/country?
Everybody Loves Potato Chips! But not everyone is a fan of your nationally available tripe; for the true connoisseur, regional "estate" chips are where it's at. From the delicious, slightly vinegary "Utz Carolina Style Barbecue", to the St. Louis hot sauce flavored "Old Vienna Red Hot Riplets"; from the straightforward pleasures of Tim's Cascade Style Cracked Peppercorn to the more exotic temptations of Route 11's Mama Zuma's Revenge, these "micro-fryeries" will never threaten Frito Lay for America's spare change, but for those lucky enough to travel the U.S., they are a welcome taste of local flavor. The truly tempted can scratch that itch via the miracle of e-commerce, but don't expect them to get to your house in time for the Superbowl. Any other favorites out there to keep an eye out for?
I like to eat. Chowhound has regional restaurant message boards with varying degrees of detail. The New York Boards are particularly active with dozens of people offering their favorite soup dumpling purveyor/ramen shack/barbecue hut. What other regional or cuisine-specific food sites / online communities have you found?