50 states, 50 dishes
July 22, 2019 2:41 PM   Subscribe

Reddit thread: I’m cooking one meal from every state in the USA, what meal best represents your state?
posted by growabrain (117 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
 
I note on that thread there are several great possibilities for quintessential Arizona cuisine offered: chimichangas, Navajo bread (and Navajo dogs), and tamales among the best.

Chimichangas (essentially a sort of deep-fried burrito) seem to have originated in AZ or at least flourished in the US first in southern AZ from Mexican immigrants. Navajo fry bread from the northern part of the state. The tamales are incredible, and whole families work together to make big batches.

Put together, they all sound like an awesome Arizona combo platter!
posted by darkstar at 2:59 PM on July 22 [3 favorites]


I am from Louisiana and am having a tough time thinking of one dish...

If you choose gumbo, should it be seafood or non-seafood? Both are prevalent. Roux required either way.
If you choose jambalaya, should it be red or brown? Both are prevalent. A jambalaya is not soupy like some recipes I've seen.
If you choose a po-boy, what kind? Fried shrimp, roast beef, paneed veal?
If you choose a dessert, how to decide? Bananas Foster, beignets, pralines?

And now I am sooooo hungry!
posted by narancia at 3:13 PM on July 22 [6 favorites]


pleaseohpleaseohpleaseohplease don't let it be tenderloins for Indiana...

~looks at thread~
Three posts in...Tenderloin for Indiana. *gah*
posted by Thorzdad at 3:13 PM on July 22


Herewith Tennessee:

Memphis-style dry-rubbed ribs, Nashville hot chicken, fried pickles, slaw, a cocktail made with Jack Daniels (yes). For dessert: banana pudding or if you're feeling ambitious, Moon-pies.
posted by jquinby at 3:16 PM on July 22 [3 favorites]


Thousands of people have responded, but none of the top responses include a South Carolina entry, so I suggest Shrimp and Grits, though a Lowcountry Boil would be another strong contender. Basically, any southern dish that relies heavily on seafood works.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 3:18 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


This very question was just asked about Minnesota on the green last week. Taco Salad is exactly as described, especially with French dressing.
posted by soelo at 3:29 PM on July 22 [3 favorites]


Despite my Minnesota heritage, I've only ever had tater tot hotdish once and it was made by a guy from South Dakota. What can I say, my parents weren't from here. Hotdish in general is extremely Minnesotan.

I do like the chicken and wild rice soup suggestion, that's very Minnesotan. I didn't realize how hard it was to get wild rice in other places until I moved away for college.

For Maine you'd have to go for lobster rolls, but it looks like no one has posted for Maine yet.
posted by bile and syntax at 3:42 PM on July 22


Cincinnati chili is NOT Ohio food, it is Cincinnati food. White Castle is much more representative of Ohio.
posted by figment of my conation at 3:44 PM on July 22 [5 favorites]


For Virginia: traditional would be a Smithfield ham or a Brunswick stew, but I'm gonna recommend pho. Everyone likes pho!
posted by basalganglia at 3:44 PM on July 22 [6 favorites]


I’m cooking one meal from every state in the USA

I love how for Texas there were basically two answers: 1) brisket, or 2) brisket, but it can require a bit of time and money to cook a whole brisket, so maybe you should try chili or something Tex-Mex
posted by 23skidoo at 3:50 PM on July 22 [5 favorites]


There’s scarcely anything at all mentioned for Pennsylvania, which is a shame because the correct answer is obviously soft pretzels
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:51 PM on July 22 [5 favorites]


I thought Minnesota was grape salad?
posted by Ickster at 3:52 PM on July 22


I'd nominate Ham BBQ for PA. It's vile stuff and has zero to do with anything that should be called BBQ but it shows up at every damn picnic.
posted by octothorpe at 3:53 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


I think it's hilarious the California replies are arguing mostly about tri tip versus tacos, but no one seems to have realized you can have tri tip tacos.
posted by linux at 4:07 PM on July 22 [13 favorites]


My votes for PA would be stuff like scrapple and lebanon bologna and shoofly pie.
Brisket for TX is inevitable.
posted by Bee'sWing at 4:09 PM on July 22 [6 favorites]


I don't know what I'd say for Oregon. Something with marionberries/huckleberries? And properly that's just the western part of the state. I don't know if there are any culinary regional foods for the eastern part.

Alternatively, you can have the meal be Portland Brunch, and you can have that be anything you want but you have to go at 10am on a Saturday and wait in line two hours.
posted by curious nu at 4:11 PM on July 22 [5 favorites]


Got to do lau lau for Hawaii.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:12 PM on July 22 [4 favorites]


Marionberries and cherries and apples and pears and maybe salmon and steelhead.
posted by Bee'sWing at 4:13 PM on July 22 [3 favorites]


Oklahoma: Raman noodles and meth

Is it terrible I laughed so hard I peed myself a little?
posted by helmutdog at 4:14 PM on July 22 [15 favorites]


I thought Minnesota was grape salad?

I mean... grapes and jello, maybe? Possibly with mayo and marshmallows? I haven't seen this stuff since I was a kid, partly because I live on tacos and Indian food.
posted by bile and syntax at 4:17 PM on July 22


It’s probably BBQ but that ends in ugly Eastern NC vs Western NC fights.* So let’s go with with shrimp and grits.

*It’s Eastern
posted by thivaia at 4:19 PM on July 22


I knew before I even clicked on this thread that it would end up making me hungry. But the idea of tri tip tacos pushed me over the edge to hangry.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:40 PM on July 22


I don't know what I'd say for Oregon.
There's the tourist-friendly answers: Marionberries, filberts, Tillamook cheese, salmon...
Then there's what initially came to mind. Jojos.
posted by CrystalDave at 4:43 PM on July 22 [8 favorites]


Lobster roll is ok for Maine but imo a more quintessential Maine *meal* is a whole lobster in the shell, baked potato, and cob of corn. Ideally served on a disposable plate and eaten at a picnic table with a red check plastic tablecloth. Everyone gets a bowl of melted butter for putting on everything. You can do steamed mussels (aka steamers) or clams too. If you're doing an appetizer then it has to be clam chowder (the white kind of course, make it with half-and-half) with oyster crackers on top. And for dessert, apple cider donuts or blueberry pie with vanilla ice cream.
posted by 100kb at 4:45 PM on July 22 [3 favorites]


It's an interesting idea, made harder by so many dishes being regional rather than state level.  I'd probably nominate Key Lime pie, or a good old Cuban sandwich for my home state despite its name, but for Washington…I'm hard pressed to come up with something I'd think of as associated solely with it.  The reddit thread mentioned something with teriyaki sauce, but that's daft. Teriyaki—a specific dish in Seattle cuisine, rather than a cooking technique—is definitely a PNW thing, but I don't think the rest of the state shares the Seattle area's obsession with it.

I suppose since they're calling for a meal, something quintessentially Washington would include a good roasted salmon steak and some locally made beer or wine.  Dessert would have to be apple, blackberry, or cherry based to complete the stereotype.  It's a fun question to ponder.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 4:49 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


What, no steamed hams?



It’s an Albany dish
posted by darkstar at 4:56 PM on July 22 [9 favorites]


For Minnesota, you should make something with wild rice. There are a number of Native purveyors. Both Native and non-Native Minnesotans do eat wild rice dishes more often than people seem to elsewhere in the US - or at least that's my impression having lived elsewhere - and wild rice harvesting and preparation is also an important thing for many Native people in this part of the Midwest.
posted by Frowner at 5:02 PM on July 22 [4 favorites]


Not just JOJOS, but calling them jojos. Ours are the best, and possibly the first, but I have never found anybody from another state or country that grew up calling them jojos.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 5:02 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


Good Maryland representation on that thread, with debates about Old Bay vs. J.O. for a crab feast and a Berger cookie mention.

For Pennsylvania I’d pick a sandwich with French fries inside it and a wedding cookie table for dessert.

For Virginia I’d pick a country ham biscuit.
posted by sallybrown at 5:04 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


a South Carolina entry ... any southern dish that relies heavily on seafood works

Hmmmm, Midlands folks might instead say mustard-based BBQ with hash and rice. I had to work hard to recall eating seafood when not actually in a Lowcountry / beach area, though I eventually remembered this chain, and I'd grant that everyone goes to the beach etc. often enough. Chicken bog comes to mind as another good candidate, though I may not have ever had it outside Florence or Loris.
posted by Wobbuffet at 5:06 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


This very question was just asked about Minnesota on the green last week.

This is incredible. Some of the responses have me in shock.
posted by sallybrown at 5:06 PM on July 22


Ctrl+f 'connecticut': no results.

They got this one exactly right. Maybe New Haven could claim some pizza or something, but the dish that symbolically captures the state is a bologna sandwich on Wonder Bread, served without mustard or mayonnaise.

Ask me about my childhood culinary experiences!
posted by Mayor West at 5:10 PM on July 22 [12 favorites]


Not just JOJOS, but calling them jojos. Ours are the best, and possibly the first, but I have never found anybody from another state or country that grew up calling them jojos.

We have jojos right here in Minnesota. Not two hundred yards away from where I now sit, in fact. More, I know at least one person who grew up here calling them jojos.
posted by Frowner at 5:17 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


For Kansas, I'm going to have to go with fried chicken, chicken-fried steak with sausage gravy and biscuits, or meatloaf. You could also make an argument for pork chops braised in Campbell's mushroom soup. Any of the above with cornbread fresh from the oven.
posted by sjswitzer at 5:18 PM on July 22


Toasted raviolis for missouri... (Though that may just be a st Louis thing.)
posted by kaibutsu at 5:23 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


I love how far down California is in the discussion rankings. For a state with some great fine dining we sure have a boring vernacular cuisine. So many distinctive Calfornia things are imported; Mexican tacos, Korean tacos. The era of California pizza is over. I'd go with the Mission burrito except that too feels fairly imported, even if the "rolled in a tortilla as big as your car hood" part is uniquely American excess. I'm gonna go with avocado toast as the distinctly California dish. Preferably overpriced.

All the Texas people saying brisket are wrong. The right answer is chili.
posted by Nelson at 5:28 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


Frowner got there first, but I was raised (mostly) in Minnesota by folks from the Jersey shore and call them jojos.
posted by Flannery Culp at 5:29 PM on July 22


I grew up in Minnesota and never heard of jojos before this thread.
posted by bile and syntax at 5:30 PM on July 22


Lobster is what everyone thinks of when they think of Maine, but I mostly just think it's gross.

Bean suppers with enormous cauldrons of yellow eye beans slow cooked in molasses with chunks of salt pork, rolls, hot dogs, a dozen mystery casseroles and two dozen kinds of pie (but get the blueberry)
posted by xthlc at 5:34 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


Ctrl+f 'connecticut': no results.

Right. I couldn't think of anything specific my state is known for either but I, too, grew up with bologna sandwiches, but Hebrew National on rye. Could bologna actually be the official food of Connecticut? Ugh.
posted by Plafield at 5:38 PM on July 22 [4 favorites]


California is big and the cuisines are regional and very local. 20 years ago I'd have nominated something from "California cuisine," but that doesn't feel right anymore.

As far as I can tell, California's state dish is standing in line and arguing about pizza. I guess that's not an actual dish. OK, then, it's brunch. (Also not a dish.)
posted by sjswitzer at 5:39 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


There’s scarcely anything at all mentioned for Pennsylvania, which is a shame because the correct answer is obviously soft pretzels

They broke it down into west-side (pirogis, kielbasa, sauerkraut) and east-side (cheesesteak, soft pretzel, water ice). I'm a Philly partisan but objectively I can't decide which it should be.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:42 PM on July 22


Mississippi isn't known for a singular dish, but it should be -- Delta hot tamales, small and spicy and invariably pork.

Nobody actually eats Mississippi mud pie at home; chocolate icebox pie is a better dessert. Man, the icebox pies that these ladies used to make in my hometown, with the meringue a totally separate layer, sweating and sticky and foamy all through --
posted by Countess Elena at 5:43 PM on July 22 [4 favorites]


Not from California, but as a fan of it, I would pick Zuni Cafe roast chicken with bread salad, or just fresh produce in general. I still remember the first time I ever went to California, I was in a corporate cafeteria and there were five kinds of vinegar and a salad bar as far as the eye could see. And all the veggies looked so beautiful.
posted by sallybrown at 5:46 PM on July 22 [3 favorites]


i see that pasties have been cited for michigan, with coney dogs and detroit pizza also mentioned
posted by pyramid termite at 5:53 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


Ten years ago I lived in a hi-rise condo and they had a "foods from your homeland" potluck. I brought pigs in blankets (appetizer sized; hot-dogs halves). Not gonna lie, they were a hit. IIRC, I also brought coleslaw made with miracle whip (don't @ me!) which was well-received, but that might have been a different event. (Kansas born and bred.)
posted by sjswitzer at 6:00 PM on July 22


New Hampshire was about as expected, with neighboring states claiming all the good stuff (maple syrup, apple cider donuts, lobster, etc.) And we're left with...boiled dinner.
posted by damayanti at 6:02 PM on July 22


Toasted raviolis for missouri... (Though that may just be a st Louis thing.)

As someone pointed out in the Reddit thread, Salt + Smoke does burnt ends t-ravs which marry both sides of the state and are pretty damn outstanding.
posted by Ufez Jones at 6:04 PM on July 22 [3 favorites]


Doesn't Connecticut have its own version of the lobster roll?

As for California and things being "imported," I figure imports absolutely have to be fair game, as long as there's something regional that the state brings to the table in terms of style or ingredients. Plus, I have to imagine that Korean tacos aren't an import from either Korea or Mexico; I'm hard-pressed to think of a fast food that isn't more LA than that.
posted by pykrete jungle at 6:14 PM on July 22 [3 favorites]


I thought Minnesota was grape salad?

No! The whole point of the grape salad scandal is that it isn’t remotely Minnesotan.

I would also vote for a Juicy Lucy as a Minnesotan meal, if wild rice or tater tot hot dish doesn’t appeal. It’s a cheeseburger with the cheese on the inside. There are a lot of recipes out there, but the physical aspect is basically that you make two thin beef patties, put the cheese between them, and then form the edges to make one large patty with the cheese in the center. I *suppose* you can use whatever cheese you prefer, but the classic recipe calls for American.
posted by Autumnheart at 6:16 PM on July 22


As a native and current Californian, I am deeply fascinated by the tri-tip discourse from multiple angles:

- the notion that tri-tip is representative of Californian cuisine (but then again, I don't live in either the Central Valley nor SoCal)
- the commenter who felt compelled to add, "Never heard of tri-tip in my 20yrs of living in the bay. Apparently its a central coast thing" (we definitely have tri-tip here, it's sold in so many grocery stores and on so many menus as part of a sandwich or salad)
- the association of tri-tip with Santa Maria BBQ culture (I've never thought a cut of meat would have any specific regional ties)
- that tri-tip isn't much of a thing outside CA (The More You Know star swoop)
posted by rather be jorting at 6:30 PM on July 22 [7 favorites]


Illinois is in hiding because they are sick of deep dish.
posted by srboisvert at 6:31 PM on July 22 [4 favorites]


This person wants to cook meals associated with each state. You don't cook pasties. You buy them at a gas station.
posted by acrasis at 6:33 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


I am from Northern California but I think fish tacos is the correct answer for my state?
posted by latkes at 6:34 PM on July 22 [8 favorites]


For Hawaii, lau lau is a good dish, but considering how badly it's been interpreted in hip metro joints from coast to coast, I feel like we should submit ahi poke or a limu ahi poke bowl just to show the rest of the states how it's done.
posted by pzarquon at 6:38 PM on July 22


OK- After thinking about it, Michigan could be battered lake perch and fries with a mug of Bell's beer. For dessert, cherry pie.
posted by acrasis at 6:40 PM on July 22 [5 favorites]


As for Georgia, since I’m heading there in two days for the big family reunion, I’ll humbly propose fried chicken, turnip greens with potlikker, black-eye peas, cole slaw, corn bread and for desert, pecan pie. And to drink, while the world may enjoy Coke, it was invented in Atlanta.

Sure, fried chicken could be claimed by a lot of states (hello Kentucky!). But I can’t think of anything more traditional to eat when I was growing up. Chicken-and-dumplings, maybe?

RE buying pasties at a gas station, that makes me think there’s maybe something to be said for a Stuckey’s nut log representing any of the states that touch I-75, too...
posted by darkstar at 6:46 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


Shrimp and grits is incorrect for North Carolina. Barbecue should be Lexington-style or bust. (Although really, arguing about it is the truest of North Carolinian pastimes. We have holy wars about basketball and barbecue. Houses are divided. Brother against brother. This is our truest nature as a state.)

But like Texas brisket, actually cooking the barbecue requires a whole pit setup that likely isn’t feasible for the home cook. Therefore, I might instead recommend country ham biscuits, or chicken biscuits. (Country ham biscuits at the North Carolina State Fair are a very special thing.)
posted by snowmentality at 6:49 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


California is way too big and has way too many people to have one representative food.
And I think that's a great thing!
posted by flaterik at 6:51 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


Aha there it is, hello New Jersey! Pork roll, egg and cheese on a hard roll with salt, pepper, ketchup. (No egg for me because egg is gross.) Breakfast can’t come soon enough...
posted by lyssabee at 7:11 PM on July 22


My guess was right—the Colorado dish is arguing over whether we're smothering things in green chili vs green chile, and if it's stolen from or inferior to New Mexican chile.
posted by JiBB at 7:11 PM on July 22 [3 favorites]


> They broke it down into west-side (pirogis, kielbasa, sauerkraut) and east-side (cheesesteak, soft pretzel, water ice). I'm a Philly partisan but objectively I can't decide which it should be.

Ox roast seems like much more of a western Pennsylvania thing to me than pierogi, kielbasa and sauerkraut. Mind, I ate the latter frequently since I was raised on Polish cooking, but my parents were transplants to PA and would have fed us just as much pierogi, saurkraut and kielbasa if they'd moved to somewhere else instead.

Shrimp and grits isn't a big deal in most of North Carolina. It's a shrimp producer but the shrimp don't make it that far inland. The better answer is bbq, the subsequent argument being east or west style. Biscuit sandwiches would be an acceptable noncontroversial compromise.

The proper representative food for Massachusetts is donuts.
posted by ardgedee at 7:14 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


The top Reddit suggestion for Alabama (smoked chicken with white sauce) is actually 100% correct, at least for the top half of the state. White sauce extremely simple: just mix mayonnaise with something sour (lemon juice, cider vinegar, or even plain white vinegar) and pepper (white, black, cayenne, or some combination of the three). It's better with some garlic powder, ground mustard, horseradish, whatever...but honestly not that much better. The plain version is delicious. I don't even like mayonnaise, but the wallop of acidity transforms it. And of course...uh, my extremely white family in Alabama love white meat chicken, which is naturally dry as hell after being smoked. White sauce brings it back to life. (For dark meat, just use the vinegary bbq sauce.)
posted by grandiloquiet at 7:28 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


For me quintessential CA means Dutch crunch, ideally a sandwich with sprouts and avocado if you want to get super stereotypical.
posted by Carillon at 7:28 PM on July 22 [6 favorites]


lyssabee: Aha there it is, hello New Jersey! Pork roll, egg and cheese on a hard roll with salt, pepper, ketchup.

It was such a Jersey food sub-thread:
10% something something diner
10% something something Italian food
80% IT IS PORK ROLL/TAYLOR HAM! I WILL DIE ON THIS HILL!!!

And someone said disco fries, so I'm happy.
posted by booksherpa at 7:28 PM on July 22 [3 favorites]


I had to agree with the thread there that for California, the right answer is a burrito for Northern CA and street tacos for Southern CA -- so maybe like half a burrito with two tacos on the side.
posted by slidell at 7:29 PM on July 22 [3 favorites]


Massachusetts on Sunday morning is indeed donuts (Dunkin) (and for a gallon of coffee anytime) but I think you might need to do something with fish - and possibly even salt cod - to be historical? Finnan Haddie, or a cream based fish chowder, although I think we have as much claim on a cream based clam chowder as anyone.
posted by old gray mare at 7:37 PM on July 22


Oh, if we're talking about Mass. history, gotta go with fried clams, which were invented in Ipswich (shh, don't tell anybody, but hardly anybody eats Boston baked beans anymore, one of the last places that still sold it - and Indian pudding - Durgin-Park, closed earlier this year, after having been open since before you were born).

For Rhode Island, it's clam cakes washed down with Del's Lemonade (which could be approximated by grinding up a bunch of ice cubes in a blender with a splash of actual lemonade), or maybe New York System hot dogs (paired with coffee milk?).
posted by adamg at 7:50 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


PA should be a soft pretzel, a water ice, and a birch beer. Florida should be a Cuban sandwich and a deviled crab.
posted by gnutron at 7:58 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


While Iowa has the superior pork tenderloin, we’ll let Indiana have it because we have the Maid-Rite (eastern and central Iowa) / tavern (western Iowa) / loose meat (Roseanne reruns) sandwich. Serve with a side of sweet corn on the cob, slathered in butter.

Now, technically, a Maid-Rite is just steamed ground beef, seasoned with only salt and pepper. Taverns, on the other hand, are a little more open to individual expression (seasoning). The best can be purchased at Bob’s Drive-In in Le Mars or Spencer.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 7:59 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


I spent my early childhood in north-central Iowa eating Broasted chicken and jojo potatoes.

God. So good!
posted by Big Al 8000 at 8:02 PM on July 22


lived in MN my whole life and I have been calling them jojos since 1989

Also, I thought about Mahnomin Porridge, but I have only had it at one restaurant.
posted by soelo at 8:02 PM on July 22


The one item listed from Montana is "Huckleberry (NOT blueberry) Cobbler" which, I suppose is ok, but AFAIK, most huckleberries get made into jam and sold to tourists, is not something the average person eats very often. I'd suggest venison or elk steak, at the very least a bison burger.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 8:04 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


Chicken fried steak for Texas
posted by hockeyfan at 8:08 PM on July 22 [3 favorites]


Based on my from-Michigan wife, I feel like it's safe to not say Detroit-style pizza (which she'd never had before Kenji Alt-Lopez brought it to our attention) but to instead say just, like, delivery-style cheap chain pizza in general, given that both Domino's and Little Caesar's are from Michigan (and at least the Ypsi/Ann Arbor area is full of other places like Cottage Inn and Hungry Howie's). Also, "coney dogs" are absolutely a thing; even if it's just another name for chili dogs, they are way more of a Thing there than anywhere else I have ever been. (Also, I recommend you never order the "loose dog," which is apparently what an open-face hot dog bun topped with just the chili topping is called, if only because the use of "loose" to describe a lumpy brown pile is not particularly appetizing)
posted by DoctorFedora at 8:35 PM on July 22


We did this before on AskMe in 2009. The compiled results for the 50 49 states of MeFi (nobody could think of anything for Delaware), plus DC, Manitoba and Quebec.
posted by zamboni at 8:47 PM on July 22 [5 favorites]


Not just JOJOS, but calling them jojos. Ours are the best, and possibly the first, but I have never found anybody from another state or country that grew up calling them jojos.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 20:02 on July 22 [1 favorite +] [!]


I grew up with jojo's here in Akron. Growing up in the 70s and 80s there were always pizza shops with "broasted" chicken and jojo's. We always thought it was a local thing, like cheese salads and sauerkraut balls.
posted by slogger at 9:01 PM on July 22


Durgin-Park, closed earlier this year, after having been open since before you were born

Whoa wait, Durgin Park closed? That's a damn shame.

For Rhode Island, it's clam cakes washed down with Del's Lemonade (which could be approximated by grinding up a bunch of ice cubes in a blender with a splash of actual lemonade), or maybe New York System hot dogs (paired with coffee milk?).

That's pretty much what they concluded in the Reddit thread, too, except you left out the clamcakes or doughboys. And maybe the pizza strips, depending on whether or not you're also feeding a bunch of nine-year-olds at a party.

Also, any of you non-New-Englanders who have ever thought some variation of "Rhode Island shouldn't even be a state" or "it's not a real state", please observe how all the Rhode Islanders can instantly rattle off this list of state-specific foods (yes New York system wieners are RI-specific despite the name!) while the folks from Connecticut are just like, "ummm....bologna sandwiches? Maybe?"
posted by mstokes650 at 9:05 PM on July 22 [5 favorites]


For Washington, salmon main dish, sure. But dessert surely must be Applets and Cotlets!
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 9:06 PM on July 22


Yeah, for Maryland I’d say crab cakes with beaten biscuits, a case of natty boh, and Smith Island cake for dessert. And a Berger cookie, because why not? If you want to do surf and turf, add chicken. Someone with a strong accent should call you hon while you’re eating.

That’s coastal, though. There’s got to be something for the middle of the state, where I spent much of my childhood, but all I can think of is the burger and hot dog place in Sunshine. Getting into western Maryland, man, not sure what it should be.

As a current resident, I appreciated this exchange:

You cannot get good crabcakes outside of Maryland.

Seriously. This is pretty much the ONLY thing I miss about living in Maryland.

• • Oh come on theres also the... I mean we have... well if you look at... never mind.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 9:18 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


For Connecticut I would say clam dip. It's a dip made of canned clams, sour cream and Worcestershire sauce whose popularity peaked a generation ago. A generic New England food of suburbia, clam dip has never had tradition, style, or name recognition. It's not Maine Lobster, Boston Baked Beans. It's not Vermont Maple Syrup. Even tiny Rhode Island has its own style of clam chowder (clear broth, no tomato).

Connecticut should get Clam Dip. The dish someone brings to a family cookout, yet you personally would never choose. The dish that's admittedly kinda gross but you kinda like it anyway because you had it growing up.
posted by cotterpin at 9:46 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


I knew the co/nm green Chile thing would come up. For Colorado, I propose:

Buffalo burger with green Chile and a local craft Brew. Brew mandatory.
posted by j_curiouser at 9:51 PM on July 22


North Dakota: take a night off from cooking and eat at the local Olive Garden
posted by morspin at 9:53 PM on July 22 [6 favorites]


For Washington, salmon main dish, sure. But dessert surely must be Applets and Cotlets!

Seasonally, you get in the Copper River salmon just at peak backyard grilling time (now) and at the tail end of Rainier cherry season. But I will grant you the Cotlets, which have forever spoiled lesser Turkish delights for me.
posted by St. Oops at 9:55 PM on July 22


Oh Wisconsin alcohol culture, as always, prevails! After a brief debate about brats, cheese curds and Friday fish fries, the conversation goes immediately to varieties of Old Fashioneds and beer.
posted by carmicha at 10:01 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


It looks like reddit Wisconsinites really like Culver's, too. I mean, I do think it punches way above its weight, but it would be weird to make it our state meal rather than fish fry or beer brats.
posted by Jpfed at 10:12 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


Fifth generation (Bay Area) Californian, and I'm completely puzzled by the tri tip thing. I don't think my parents or grandparents ever made tri tip or even mentioned it tbqh.

I think a burrito is a fine example of a California state food- this place was Mexico before it was a U.S. territory. It's great because there are so many regional, multi-cultural and improvised types of burritos; but any Californian is going to know what a burrito is.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:21 PM on July 22 [9 favorites]


I too think that for CA a burrito that represents both SoCal and NorCal. One half would have rice included and the other wouldn't. LOL.
posted by jj's.mama at 10:30 PM on July 22 [4 favorites]


> For Kansas, I'm going to have to go with fried chicken, chicken-fried steak with sausage gravy and biscuits, or meatloaf.

I'm not sure Kansas really has any claim to fried food any more than it does pizza. My vote is butterball soup, but I admit it's a niche food.
posted by pwnguin at 10:31 PM on July 22


Connecticut has the hot buttered lobster roll. It is hot, and buttered and delicious, in contrast to the Maine lobster roll which is cold and incorporates mayonnaise.

New Haven pizza can MAYBE also claim to be somewhat distinct from other pizzas out there, maybe.
posted by slateyness at 11:19 PM on July 22


Oregon: oh man, I had completely forgotten about jojos! Thanks for giving me yet another food craving that will never be satisfied...
I would say, the cheese curds (squeaky cheese) specifically at Tillamook Cheese Factory.
Also, how regional are elephant ears? Is that Oregon only?
posted by sacchan at 12:11 AM on July 23


New York: forget the City, go with upstate's Garbage Plate, as seen here.
posted by Marky at 12:28 AM on July 23 [2 favorites]


Since it’s a whole meal, not just one dish, I think California could be a burrito and tacos. They’re both things I really miss, and there’s nothing comparable for either here on the east coast. I don’t know why you’d have both in the same meal, but this is a state meal anyway. The tacos could be fish tacos (more surf and turf). Dessert could be cut up fruit with lime juice and chili powder, served in a baggie.

There has to be something for way northern CA too.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 3:50 AM on July 23


I'm not sure what dessert in Massachusetts would be. On the one hand, we can lay claim to the Toll House Cookie, but I feel Hoodsie Cups are more quintessentially dessert.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 5:10 AM on July 23


God, Kentucky is hard, especially since there is Louisville, which is more metro known for things like the ridiculous Hot Brown, and then there is the rest of the state, which is definitely more Appalachian and/or soul food. Fried chicken, sure, but that's not really a staple so much. I don't really know too many families that grew up eating a ton of fried chicken. There aren't even that many fried chicken establishments, except KFC, which everyone sort of detests anyway.

Maybe white bean and ham soup and corn pone? Or literally anything cooked with hamhock seems to be the common thread through everything.

God I love green beans with hamhock.
posted by Young Kullervo at 5:11 AM on July 23 [1 favorite]


I was afraid they would get Michigan wrong, but pasties it is! Someone opened a pasty place in Boston a couple of years ago. When I met the owner, I asked, "So are you from Michigan?"

He surprised me by answering, "No, are you a Yooper? They always ask that."

I didn't know there were so many people from the Upper Peninsula in Boston, or anywhere! It's not that densely populated.
posted by pangolin party at 5:48 AM on July 23 [1 favorite]


I think desert in Massachusetts would have to be a plate of Fig Newtons and Necco Wafers, the lovely flavor combination of gritty fruit, dry biscuits, and crunchy earwax.
posted by jenkinsEar at 6:18 AM on July 23 [1 favorite]


The Illinois suggestions include deep dish pizza and a Chicago hot dog and an Italian beef, which are all fine although the first is restaurant food and the others are street food, but someone suggested chicken vesuvio and YES, that is a great choice, you can do it at home, it's fucking delicious, and it's very Chicago, and you can find versions of it throughout the state. And it is amazing comfort food, I always want it when I'm getting over being sick in the winter. (It's also a whole MEAL in one dish, which is nice.)

Serve it with some local beer and/or Green River.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:32 AM on July 23 [2 favorites]


Nope. Still upset about the Sufjan Stevens albums. Not falling for this one.
posted by Naberius at 6:57 AM on July 23 [3 favorites]


Nah. No Clam Dip for Connecticut, no lobster roll. There's a better one.

Connecticut invented the hamburger.

Take that, y'all.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:31 AM on July 23 [2 favorites]


A few people have suggested Salmon for Washington State. That's correct, but I would add that it really should be cooked over a fire on a cedar plank. That is a very Washington State dish.

I really like the dry rub from the Seattle chef Tom Douglas. You can buy the tin, but the basic recipe is just paprika, brown sugar, thyme, salt, pepper.
posted by tuffet at 8:12 AM on July 23 [2 favorites]


Also, how regional are elephant ears? Is that Oregon only?

If you're talking about a plate-sized piece of fried dough liberally doused with powdered sugar, no, that's not Oregon only. I've had them all over the world, actually.
posted by cooker girl at 9:00 AM on July 23 [2 favorites]


I agree with splitting Pennsylvania east/west. As a native Philadelphian, Pittsburgh doesn't exist. But can we just admit that the roast pork sandwich (with provolone and broccoli rabe) is better than the cheesesteak already?
posted by madcaptenor at 9:00 AM on July 23 [4 favorites]


Missouri's tough because it's a crossroads. We have some damn good food, but I'm having a hard time thinking of a dish that is unique to us. A lot of the food I have fond memories of overlaps with states to the south. A lot of the food I have less fond memories of overlaps with states to the north....

St. Louis toasted ravioli? Meh.

I think if I was taking a friend to my hometown and wanted to show her Missouri food, I'd get her some fried catfish, maybe, because at least for me the river(s) figures big in my mind. We'd go to one of those places where you get your protein and two sides - one of which, for me, has to be fried okra (leaning in on the south).
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 9:35 AM on July 23 [1 favorite]


> But can we just admit that the roast pork sandwich (with provolone and broccoli rabe) is better than the cheesesteak already?

I just want to add that I was hoping to see DiNic's on that list and I was not disappointed. One of my all-time favorite sandwiches! It's especially satisfying after a long day of walking (or long morning of conference-ing).
posted by rather be jorting at 9:44 AM on July 23


I'm glad to see so much underwhelmed head-scratching about Connecticut. Having grown up there, I too have always struggled relating to any sense of state tradition.

I guess, for me, the CT state meal would be an Ellio's frozen pizza.
posted by spenser at 9:48 AM on July 23 [1 favorite]


I mean, of course, like so many questions of this nature it's absurd on the face of it. You might conceivably have a dish like Seattle teriyaki chicken that is basically unique to a particular city. You might have a dish that's unique to a particular part of a state. But it's extraordinarily unlikely that you're going to have a dish that simply stops at state borders. Minnesota food is a lot like Wisconsin and Iowa food, except that we have a bit more wild rice.

If I wanted to write about food that coherently characterizes Minneapolis, for instance, it wouldn't be specific dishes; it would be a particular mixture of dishes that are really popular here and maybe the cooking at some particular restaurants. Like, pho and Pizza Luce pizza and probably injera with maybe cabbage and carrots would probably be my picks. Pizza Luce isn't "Minneapolis-style pizza", it's Pizza Luce style pizza. (And I find it a bit heavy, tbh.) I'd say that in general Minneapolis cooking is pretty good but not refined - no matter what you're eating, whether it's Szechuan at Teahouse or falafel at Holy Land or mussels at Merlin's Rest, it's more of a "go for the gusto" town than a "subtle flavors" town.

....but having said that, no uniquely Indiana meal is complete without persimmon pudding made with American persimmons. (They're different enough from Asian persimmons that it totally changes the receipe if you don't use the US ones.) American persimmons don't travel. You're not going to get persimmon pudding in Oregon unless you buy frozen pulp at considerable expense.
posted by Frowner at 9:53 AM on July 23 [1 favorite]


...they traveled the landscape for years, setting up camp on the edges of town: yurts, RVs, whatever kept the weather out. The elders among them had lost count of the loops they'd made and any attempt to nail down a number was bound to set off hours of intense bickering into the evening.

And they were gone this morning, as suddenly as they'd arrived. A rumor started last night around the fire about persimmon pudding, and it was a certainty they were headed to Indiana, by way of the Northern path if one faction held; the Southern Low-and-Inside otherwise. Just as well, too. There wasn't a tortilla left for 30 miles.

Only depressions in the grass were left, along with a few tire tracks heading east and into the sun.

posted by jquinby at 10:06 AM on July 23 [2 favorites]


Super chuffed that one of the Wisconsin commenters mentioned curds from my hometown (home county) cheese shop... Renards Curds. (always get the garlic/chives/horseradish cream cheese spread when I'm there, and recommend if you are ever up in Door County, WI to do so likewise).

But yeah;
Brats, Corn on the Cob, New Glarus Beer & Curds (ideally Fresh, but good Fried Curds can be great (if you're ever in Madison stop by The Old Fashioned and get their curds, OMFG...)
posted by symbioid at 2:00 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


In the post cowboy/post oilman era, CHILE CON QUESO is THE food of Texas!
posted by a humble nudibranch at 10:34 PM on July 23


A burrito or taco with avocado salsa should be the dish for California. The burritos and tacos are really no different than anywhere else in the southwest, but adding avocado salsa seems to make it unique to CA, and if you get some that is good (lots is subpar - ie: El Pollo Loco) it's better (yeah I said it) than salsa or pico de gallo and creates a totally unique flavor profile.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:35 AM on July 24


New Hampshire . . . I am going with clam chowder or fried clams . Even if you are up in the white mountains / no where need the coast , there is usually these on the menu because, um , canned clams = huge profit .

Reminds me of the Holiday Inn restaurant in Amsterdam called "The Vermonter" ; it had a tiny light house, ocean theme and lobster traps .

Oh I see Mass and Maine have clams too , who knew ...
posted by epjr at 9:34 AM on July 25 [1 favorite]


Speaking of regional California burrito differences, as a NorCal person, it wasn't until a year or so ago I became aware of french fries in burritos - which in San Diego, I understand, is called the "California burrito." Fascinating...
posted by rather be jorting at 10:38 AM on July 25 [1 favorite]


I've seen that in the Bay Area, too, also called a California burrito. I don't know if that's a SD import or what. I know Senor Sisig, the food truck, serves them, and I think I've seen them in a few other places. I never got around to trying them, though.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 10:42 AM on July 25


Yeah that's a San Diego thing. The fries replace the rice in an SF Mission Burrito. It's delicious; the extra crunch of the crispy fries is good. They're starting to be more common in SF now. Taqueria los Coyotes makes a good one, at 16th & Mission.
posted by Nelson at 10:56 AM on July 25 [2 favorites]


You can also get San Diego style burritos at Best Coast Burritos in Oakland or Emeryville, and a delicious Korean inspired variety at Belly in Oakland.
posted by oneirodynia at 5:33 PM on July 28 [2 favorites]


In a related vein:

Buzzfeed’s Iconic Sandwich For Every State

The picture for Iowa is from a deli in Fargo, North Dakota and it’s loose meat/tavern/maid-rite, not loose beef.

I’m so mad I could spit.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 2:07 PM on August 8


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