My 10 Favorite Iconic State Dishes
Every state has one: the recipes they’re most known for. From a map of top menu items, I made my list of my favorite iconic state dishes.
MentalFloss recently published a map created by Flavored Nation showing America’s most iconic state dishes. Flavored Nation is an event devoted to dishes from all 50 states that debuts in Columbus, Ohio in August, according to the magazine.
Click here to see the full map.
I decided to pick the 50 state dishes I’d most like to sample:
1. South Carolina — Shrimp & Grits
The first time I heard of this, I have to admit, I didn’t find it appealing. I like shrimp, I like grits and I like gravy. But putting the three together just seemed very strange to me. After I actually tried it, I was sold. It’s actually one of my favorite southern dishes now.
If you’re ever in the Charleston area, be sure to visit Fleet Landing, a restaurant that serves some of the best I’ve sampled so far.
2. Florida — Key Lime Pie
I don’t recall ever trying this in Florida, oddly enough, but it’s still one of my favorite desserts, no matter where I am.
3. North Carolina — Pulled Pork
Pulled pork is simply roasted pork that has been shredded. It can be served on sandwiches or by itself as a main meat item. It’s even better when you drizzle some barbecue sauce over the top. (And in the Carolinas, that barbecue sauce should be mustard-based.
4. Arkansas — Fried Catfish
Catfish has a great flavor and when breaded with a little cornmeal, it becomes another favorite southern dish.
5. Maryland — Crab Cakes
I’ve been to Maryland and I’ve had crab cakes. I just didn’t have the crab cakes in Maryland. The next time I’m there, I’ll make it a point to see what they’re like in the state that’s actually known for producing them.
6. Pennsylvania — Phillie Cheesesteak Sandwiches
Years ago in West Columbia, there was a little restaurant based in a little log cabin whose proprietor was from Philadelphia. His Phillie Cheesesteaks were absolutely the best I’ve ever had. The restaurant went out of business 20 years ago or more. Every Phillie Cheesesteak I’ve ever had since then has only been a disappointment. At some point, I’m going to have to have a Phillie Cheesesteak in Phillie!
7. Massachusetts — New England Clam Chowder
I’ve never been to Massachusetts. But the best New England Clam Chowder I’ve ever had was in, of all places, San Francisco. A friend and I visited Boudin Bakery, famous for its sourdough bread. They serve the chowder in a bread bowl. And if you eat in their outdoor cafe, you can watch some of the world’s fattest seagulls, who clearly get plenty of handouts from tourists. How they ever get off the ground is beyond me.
8. Texas — Chicken Fried Steak
Chicken-Fried Steak is essentially something like cubed steak that has been breaded and fried as a patty, then served with gravy on top. It’s a great southern comfort food, though your cardiologist would probably prefer you let that go by.
9. Alabama — Fried Green Tomatoes
I’ve written before about my food sensitivity to raw tomatoes, but once they’re cooked, whatever acid in them seems to burn away. Fried Green Tomatoes are a nice side dish.
10. Georgia — Peach Cobbler
I mentioned this in a post about my favorite southern soul food dishes, but I’ll tell the story again: I was probably about 12 or so at the time, but my mom had just taken a peach cobbler out of the oven on a night on which CBS was running the film Gone With the Wind. The timing was sheer coincidence, but it was a perfect match of food to film. To this day, if I see one, I think of the other!
That’s my list. Check out the map above and let me know in the comments which state dish would be your favorite!