The United States: Bon appétit!

Thursday, 9 November 2017 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Editorial, Greater Los Angeles Area, Bon appétit, Miami / South Florida, New York City, San Francisco Bay Area
Reading Time:  51 minutes

© Lipton sale/cc-by-sa-3.0

© Lipton sale/cc-by-sa-3.0

The cuisine of the United States reflects its history. The European colonization of the Americas yielded the introduction of a number of ingredients and cooking styles to the latter. The various styles continued expanding well into the 19th and 20th centuries, proportional to the influx of immigrants from many different nations; such influx developed a rich diversity in food preparation throughout the country. Early Native Americans utilized a number of cooking methods in early American Cuisine that have been blended with early European cooking methods to form the basis of American Cuisine. When the colonists came to the colonies, they farmed animals for clothing and meat in a similar fashion to what they had done in Europe. They had cuisine similar to their previous British cuisine. The American colonial diet varied depending on the settled region in which someone lived. Commonly hunted game included deer, bear, buffalo, and wild turkey. A number of fats and oils made from animals served to cook much of the colonial foods. Prior to the American Revolution, New Englanders consumed large quantities of rum and beer, as maritime trade provided them relatively easy access to the goods needed to produce these items: rum was the distilled spirit of choice, as the main ingredient, molasses, was readily available from trade with the West Indies. In comparison to the northern colonies, the southern colonies were quite diverse in their agricultural diet and did not have a central region of culture. During the Progressive Era (1890s–1920s) food production and presentation became more industrialized. Major railroads featured upscale cuisine in their dining cars. Restaurant chains emerged with standardized decor and menus, most famously the Fred Harvey restaurants along the route of the Santa Fe Railroad in the Southwest. At the universities, nutritionists and home economists taught a new scientific approach to food. During World War I the Progressives’ moral advice about food conservation was emphasized in large-scale state and federal programs designed to educate housewives. Large-scale foreign aid during and after the war brought American standards to Europe. Newspapers and magazines ran recipe columns, aided by research from corporate kitchens, which were major food manufacturers like General Mills, Campbell’s, and Kraft Foods. One characteristic of American cooking is the fusion of multiple ethnic or regional approaches into completely new cooking styles. For example, spaghetti is Italian, while hot dogs are German; a popular meal, especially among young children, is spaghetti containing slices of hot dogs. Since the 1960s Asian cooking has played a particularly large role in American fusion cuisine. Even if the entire series of articles is titled “Bon appétit!”, the right termin is “enjoy your meal” instead in the USA.


New York City is home to a diverse and cosmopolitan demographic, and since the nineteenth century, the city’s world class chefs created complicated dishes with rich ingredients like Lobster Newberg, waldorf salad, vichyssoise, eggs benedict, and the New York strip steak out of a need to entertain and impress consumers in expensive bygone restaurants like Delmonico’s and still standing establishments like the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Some dishes that are typically considered American have their origins in other countries. American cooks and chefs have substantially altered these dishes over the years, to the degree that the dishes now enjoyed around the world are considered to be American. Hot dogs and hamburgers are both based on traditional German dishes, but in their modern popular form they can be reasonably considered American dishes. Pizza is based on the traditional Italian dish, brought by Italian immigrants to the United States, but varies highly in style based on the region of development since its arrival. For example, Chicago style has focus on a thicker, taller crust, whereas a New York Slice is known to have a much thinner crust which can be folded. These different types of pizza can be advertised throughout the country and are generally recognizable and well-known, with some restaurants going so far as to import New York City tap water from a thousand or more miles away to recreate the signature style in other regions. Manhattan is host to mostly Secular and Reform Jewish communities. Brooklyn and Queens, where people from more than 170 countries of origin are living, while belonging to even more religious groups, are hosting large orthodox and ultra-orthodox Jewish communities. At the same time, the city is one of the few places outside Israel, where Jewish cuisine (Jewish American Chinese restaurant patronage) has a quantitatively measurable and tangible influence, as well as in the metropolitan area of New York as a whole, since the largest Jewish community in the Western World has settled here (about 1.8 million are living in the metropolitan area of New York/Tri-State Area with a total population of 24 million, surpassing even the Israeli metropolitan area of Tel Aviv). In the metropolitan areas of Los Angeles (570,000 with a total population of 19 million in the Greater Los Angeles Area) and Miami (500,000 with a total population of 6 million in the Miami metropolitan area – Times of Israel, 9 October 2019: Despite doomsday predictions, US Jewish community grew 10% in last seven years) the influence is noticeable as well. On the other hand, the figures in the European metropolitan areas are rather modest (perhaps with the exception of the Marais in Paris and the East End in London). The current influence of Jewish cuisine on European cuisine is correspondingly lower. This may change over time (since there are no valid universal records of the number of Jews living around the world, some of them are very different to others, depending on who you ask, an average of about 21 million is assumed. Of these, about 10 million live in the US and about 6.7 million in Israel. There are about 1.6 million Jews throughout the entire EU).

Many companies in the American food industry developed new products requiring minimal preparation, such as frozen entrees. Many of these recipes have become very popular. For example, the General Mills Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, first published in 1950, was a popular book in American homes. A wave of celebrity chefs began with Julia Child and Graham Kerr in the 1970s, with many more following after the rise of cable channels like Food Network. By the beginning of the 21st century regional variations in consumption of meat began to reduce, as more meat was consumed overall. Saying they eat too much protein, the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans asked men and teenage boys to increase their consumption of underconsumed foods such as vegetables. During the 1980s, upscale restaurants introduced a mixing of cuisines that contain Americanized styles of cooking with foreign elements commonly referred as New American cuisine. New American cuisine refers to a type of fusion cuisine which assimilates flavors from the melting pot of traditional American cooking techniques mixed with flavors from other cultures and sometimes molecular gastronomy components.

While the earliest cuisine of the United States was influenced by Native Americans, the thirteen colonies, or the antebellum South; the overall culture of the nation, its gastronomy and the growing culinary arts became ever more influenced by its changing ethnic mix and immigrant patterns from the 18th and 19th centuries unto the present. Some of the ethnic groups that continued to influence the cuisine were here in prior years; while others arrived more numerously during “The Great Transatlantic Migration” (of 1870—1914) or other mass migrations. Some of the ethnic influences could be found across the nation after the American Civil War and into the continental expansion for most of the 19th century. Ethnic influences already in the nation at that time would include the following groups and their respective cuisines:

Mass migrations of immigrants to the United States came in several waves. Historians identify several waves of migration to the United States: one from 1815 to 1860, in which some five million English, Irish, Germanic, Scandinavian, and others from northwestern Europe came to the United States; one from 1865 to 1890, in which some 10 million immigrants, also mainly from northwestern Europe, settled, and a third from 1890 to 1914, in which 15 million immigrants, mainly from central, eastern, and southern Europe (many Austrian, Hungarian, Turkish, Lithuanian, Russian, Jewish, Greek, Italian, and Romanian) settled in the United States. Together with earlier arrivals to the United States (including the indigenous Native Americans, Hispanic and Latino Americans, particularly in the West, Southwest, and Texas; African Americans who came to the United States in the Atlantic slave trade; and early colonial migrants from Britain, France, Germany, Spain, and elsewhere), these new waves of immigrants had a profound impact on national or regional cuisine. Some of these more prominent groups include the following: Arab cuisine, Lebanese cuisine, American Chinese cuisine, Chinese cuisine, Cuban cuisine, Dominican Republic cuisine, German cuisine (Pennsylvania Dutch), Greek-American cuisine, Greek cuisine, Mediterranean cuisine, Haitian cuisine, Indian cuisine, Irish cuisine, Italian-American cuisine, Italian cuisine, Japanese cuisine, Hawaiian cuisine, Lithuanian cuisine, Nicaraguan cuisine, Pakistani cuisine, Polish cuisine, Hawaiian cuisine, Portuguese cuisine, Romanian cuisine, Russian cuisine, Salvadoran cuisine, Scottish cuisine, Thai cuisine, Turkish cuisine, Balkan cuisine, Vietnamese cuisine, Caribbean cuisine, Jamaican cuisine, and the Trinidad and Tobago cuisine.

New England clam chowder © Jon Sullivan

New England clam chowder © Jon Sullivan

New England
New England cuisine is characterized by extensive use of seafood and dairy products, which results from its historical reliance on its seaports and fishing industry, as well as extensive dairy farming in inland regions. Many of New England‘s earliest Puritan settlers were from eastern England, where baking foods was more common than frying, such as pies, beans, and turkey, as was the tradition elsewhere. Two prominent characteristic foodstuffs native to New England are maple syrup and cranberries. The traditional standard starch is potato, though rice has a somewhat increased popularity in modern cooking. New England cuisine is known for limited use of spices aside from ground black pepper, although parsley and sage are common, with a few Caribbean additions such as nutmeg. Use of cream is common, due to the reliance on dairy. The favored cooking techniques are stewing, steaming, and baking.

Connecticut is known for its apizza (particularly the white clam pie), shad and shadbakes, grinders (including the state-based Subway chain), and New Haven‘s claim as the birthplace of the hamburger sandwich at Louis’ Lunch in 1900. Italian-inspired cuisine is dominant in the New Haven area, while southeastern Connecticut relies heavily on the fishing industry. Irish American influences are common in the interior portions of the state, including the Hartford area. Hasty pudding is sometimes found in rural communities, particularly around Thanksgiving.

Maine is known for its lobster. Relatively inexpensive lobster rolls—lobster meat mixed with mayonnaise and other ingredients, served in a grilled hot dog roll—are often available in the summer, particularly on the coast. Northern Maine produces potato crops, second only to Idaho in the United States. Moxie was America’s first mass-produced soft drink and is the official state soft drink. It is known for its strong aftertaste and is found throughout New England. Wax-wrapped salt water taffy is a popular item sold in tourist areas, although it is originally from New Jersey. Wild blueberries are a common ingredient or garnish, and blueberry pie is the official state dessert (when made with wild Maine blueberries). Red snappers are considered the most popular type of hot dog in Maine, natural casing frankfurters colored bright red. The whoopie pie, which is also a staple in the Philadelphia/Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine, is the official state treat. Finally, the Italian sandwich is popular in Portland and southern Maine. Portland restaurant Amato’s claims to have invented the Italian sandwich in 1902—specifically, a submarine sandwich made with ham, cheese, tomato, raw peppers, and pickles, served with or without oil, salt, and pepper. The city of Portland is known for its numerous nationally renowned restaurants; it was ranked as Bon Appétit magazine’s “America’s Foodiest Small Town” in 2009.

Coastal Massachusetts is known for its clams, haddock, and cranberries, and previously cod. Boston is known for baked beans (hence the nickname “Beantown”), bulkie rolls, various pastries, and the Union Oyster House, the oldest restaurant in the US. Hot roast beef sandwiches are popular in Boston’s surrounding area, served with a sweet barbecue sauce and usually on an onion roll. The North Shore area is locally known for its roast beef establishments, which slice tender roast beef extremely thin. The North Shore is also known for steak tips (marinated cubes of sirloin), a common menu item at pizza establishments and backyard cookouts. The South Shore area maintains a following for bar pizza, with many popular restaurants serving these crisp, thin, often heavily topped creations. Apples are grown commercially throughout the Commonwealth. Common plant foods in Massachusetts are similar to those of interior northern New England, because of the landlocked, hilly terrain, including potatoes, maple syrup, and wild blueberries. Dairy production is also prominent in this central and western area. Cuisine in western Massachusetts had similar immigrant influences as the coastal regions, though historically strong Eastern European populations instilled kielbasa and pierogi as common dishes.

Southern New Hampshire cuisine is similar to that of the Boston area, featuring fish, shellfish, and local apples. As with Maine and Vermont, French-Canadian dishes are popular, including tourtière, which is traditionally served on Christmas Eve, and poutine. Corn chowder is also common, which is similar to clam chowder but with corn and bacon replacing the clams. Portsmouth is known for its orange cake.

Rhode Island and bordering Bristol County in Massachusetts are known for Rhode Island clam chowder (clear chowder), quahogs (hard clams), johnny cakes, coffee milk, celery salt, milkshakes known as “cabinets” (called “frappes” elsewhere in New England), grinders, pizza strips, clam cakes, the chow mein sandwich, and Del’s Frozen Lemonade. Another food item popular in Rhode Island and southern Massachusetts is called a “hot wiener” or “New York System wiener,” although it is unknown in New York. Italian cooking is long established in the region. In Rhode Island and other parts of New England with a large Portuguese American population, Portuguese foods are common, including linguiça, chouriço, caldo verde, malasadas, and Portuguese sweet bread.

Vermont produces Cheddar cheese and other dairy products. It is known in and outside of New England for its maple syrup. Maple syrup is used as an ingredient in some Vermont dishes, including baked beans. Rhubarb pie is a common dessert and has been combined with strawberries in late spring. Read more on Wikipedia Cuisine of New England.

Crab cake with sweet potato fries and cole slaw © John Stephen Dwyer/cc-by-sa-3.0

Crab cake with sweet potato fries and coleslaw © John Stephen Dwyer/cc-by-sa-3.0

The cuisine of the Mid-Atlantic states encompasses the cuisines of the states of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Northern Maryland. The influences on cuisine in this region of the United States are extremely eclectic owing to the fact that it has been and continues to be a gateway for international culture as well as a gateway for new immigrants. Going back to colonial times, each new group has left their mark on homegrown cuisine and in turn the cities in this region disperse trends to the wider United States. In addition to importing and trading the finest specialty foods from all over the world, cities like Baltimore and Philadelphia have had the past influence of Italian, German, Irish, British and Jewish cuisines and that continues to this day, and Baltimore has become the crossroads between North and South, a distinction it has held since the end of the Civil War.

Since the first reference to an alcoholic mixed drink called a cocktail comes from New York State in 1803, it is thus not a surprise that there have been many cocktails invented in New York and the surrounding environs. Long Island Iced Teas, Manhattans, Rob Roys, Tom Collins, Aviations, and Greyhounds were all invented in New York bars, and the gin martini was popularized in New York in speakeasies during the 1920s, as evidenced by its appearance in the works of New Yorker and American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald. In Philadelphia, many rare and unusual liquors and liqueurs often find their way into a mixologist’s cupboard or restaurant wine list. New York State is the third most productive area in the country for wine grapes, just behind the more famous California and Washington. It has AVA‘s near the Finger Lakes, the Catskills, and Long Island, and in the Hudson Valley has the second most productive area in the country for growing apples, making it a center for hard cider production, just like New England. Pennsylvania has been growing rye since Germans began to emigrate to the area at the end of the 17th century and required a grain they knew from home. Therefore, overall it is not unusual to find New York grown Gewürtztraminer and Riesling, Pennsylvania rye whiskey, or marques of locally produced ciders like Original Sin on the same menu.

Many of the more complicated dishes with rich ingredients like Lobster Newberg, Waldorf salad, Vichyssoise, Eggs Benedict, and the New York strip steak were born out of a need to entertain and impress the well to do in expensive bygone restaurants like Delmonico’s and still standing establishments like the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, and today that tradition remains alive as some of the most expensive and exclusive restaurants in the country are found in this region.

Since their formative years, New York City, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Baltimore have welcomed immigrants of every kind to their shores, and all four have been an important gateway through which new citizens to the general United States arrive. Traditionally natives have eaten cheek to jowl with newcomers for centuries as the newcomers would open new restaurants and small businesses and all the different groups would interact. Even in colonial days this region was a very diverse mosaic of peoples, as settlers from Switzerland, Wales, England, Ulster, Wallonia, Holland, Gelderland, the British Channel Islands, and Sweden sought their fortune in this region. This is very evident in many signature dishes and local foods, all of which have evolved to become American dishes in their own right. The original Dutch settlers of New York brought recipes they knew and understood from home and their mark on local cuisine is still apparent today: in many quarters of New York their version of apple pie with a streusel top is still baked, while originating in the colony of New Amsterdam their predilection for waffles in time evolved into the American national recipe and forms part of a New York City brunch, and they also made coleslaw, originally a Dutch salad, but today accented with the later 18th century introduction of mayonnaise. The internationally famous American doughnut began its life originally as a New York pastry that arrived in the 18th century as the Dutch olykoek.

Crab Cakes were once a kind of English croquette, but over time as spices have been added they and the Maryland crab feast became two of Baltimore’s signature dishes; fishing for the blue crab is a favorite summer pastime in the waters off Maryland, New Jersey, Long Island, and Delaware where they may grace the table at summer picnics . Other mainstays of the region have been present since the early years of American history, like oysters from Cape May, the Chesapeake Bay, and Long Island, and lobster and tuna from the coastal waters found in New York and New Jersey, which are exported to the major cities as an expensive delicacy or a favorite locavore’s quarry at the multitude of farmer’s markets, very popular in this region. Philadelphia pepper pot, a tripe stew was originally a British dish but today is a classic of home cooking in Pennsylvania alongside bookbinder soup, a type of turtle soup. In winter, New York City pushcarts sell roasted chestnuts, a delicacy dating back to English Christmas traditions, and it was in New York and Pennsylvania that the earliest Christmas cookies were introduced: Germans introduced crunchy molasses based gingerbread and sugar cookies in Pennsylvania, and the Dutch introduced cinnamon based cookies, all of which have become part of the traditional Christmas meal. Scrapple was originally a type of savory pudding that early Pennsylvania Germans made to preserve the offal of a pig slaughter. The Philadelphia soft pretzel was originally brought at the beginning of the 18th century to Eastern Pennsylvania and later 19th century immigrants sold them to the masses from pushcarts to make them the city’s best-known bread product, having evolved into its own unique recipe.

After the 1820s, new groups began to arrive and the character of the region began to change. There had been some Irish from Ulster prior to 1820, however largely they had been Protestants with somewhat different food patterns and (often) a different language than the explosion of emigrants that came to Castle Garden and Locust Point in their masses starting in the 1840s. Taverns had existed prior to their emigration to America in the region, though they brought their particular brand of pub culture and founded some of the first saloons and bars that served stout. Irish were the first immigrant group to arrive in this region in massive numbers immigrants also founded some of the earliest saloons and bars in this region, of which McSorley’s is an example. Migrants from Southern Europe, namely Sicily, Campania, Lazio, and Calabria, appeared between 1880-1960 in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Eastern Maryland hoping to escape the extreme poverty and corruption endemic to Italy; typically they were employed in manual labor or factory work but it is because of them that dishes like spaghetti with meatballs, New York style pizza, calzones, and baked ziti exist, and Americans of today are very familiar with semolina based pasta noodles.

New York style hot dogs came about with German speaking emigrants from Austria and Germany, particularly with the frankfurter sausage and the smaller wiener sausage. Today the New York style hot dog with sauerkraut, mustard, and the optional cucumber pickle relish is such a part of the local fabric that it is one of the favorite comestibles of New York City. Hot dogs are a typical street food sold year round in all but the most inclement weather from thousands of pushcarts. As with all other stadiums in Major League Baseball they are an essential for New York Yankees and the New York Mets games though it is the local style of preparation that predominates without exception. Hot dogs are also the focus of a televised eating contest on the Fourth of July in Coney Island, at Nathan’s Famous, one of the earliest hot dog stands opened in the United States in 1916.

A summertime treat, Italian ice, began its life as a lemon flavored penny lick brought to Philadelphia by Italians; its Hispanic counterpart, piragua, is a common and evolving shaved ice treat brought to New York City by Puerto Ricans in the 1930s. Unlike the original dish which included flavors like tamarind, mango, coconut, piragua is evolving to include flavors like grape, a fruit not grown in Puerto Rico. Taylor ham, a meat delicacy of New Jersey, first appeared around the time of the Civil War and today is often served for breakfast with eggs and cheese on a kaiser roll, the bread upon which this is served was brought to the area by Austrians in the second half of the nineteenth century and is a very common roll for sandwiches at lunchtime, usually tipped with poppyseeds. This breakfast meat is generally known as pork roll in southern New Jersey and Philadelphia, and Taylor ham in northern New Jersey.

Other dishes came about during the early 20th century and have much to do with delicatessen fare, set up largely by Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe who came to America incredibly poor and most often unable to partake in the outdoor food markets that the general population utilized. The influence of European Jewry on modern mid-Atlantic cooking remains extremely strong and reinforced by their many descendants in the region. American-style pickles were brought by Polish Jews, now a common addition to hamburgers and sandwiches, and Hungarian Jews brought a recipe for almond horns that now is a common regional cookie, diverting from the original recipe in dipping the ends in dark chocolate. New York-style cheesecake has copious amounts of cream and eggs because animal rennet is not kosher and thus could not be sold to a large number of the deli’s clientele. New York inherited its bagels and bialys from Jews, as well as Challah bread, the bread today most favored for making french toast in New York, New Jersey, and eastern Pennsylvania. Pastrami first entered the country via Romanian Jews, and is a feature of many sandwiches, often eaten on marble rye, a bread that was born in the mid Atlantic. Whitefish Salad, lox, and matzoh ball soup are now standard fare made to order at local diners and delicatessens, but started their life as foods that made up a strict dietary code.

Like other groups before them, many of their dishes passed into the mainstream enough so that they became part of diner fare by the end of the 20th century, a type of restaurant that is now more numerous in this region than any other and formerly the subject matter of artist Edward Hopper. In the past this sort of establishment was the haven of the short order cook grilling or frying simple foods for the working man. Today typical service would include regional staples like beef on weck, Manhattan clam chowder, the club sandwich, Buffalo wings, Philadelphia cheesesteak, the black and white cookie, shoofly pie, snapper soup, Smith Island cake, grape pie, milkshakes, and the egg cream, a vanilla or chocolate fountain drink with a frothy top and fizzy taste. As in Edward Hopper’s painting from 1942, many of these businesses are open 24 hours a day. Read more on Wikipedia Cuisine of the Mid-Atlantic states.

Philadelphia cheesesteak © - Phil Denton/cc-by-sa-2.0

Philadelphia cheesesteak © – Phil Denton/cc-by-sa-2.0

Cuisine of Philadelphia
The cuisine of Philadelphia was shaped largely by the city’s mixture of ethnicities, available foodstuffs and history. Certain foods have become iconic to the city. Invented in Philadelphia in the 1930s, the cheesesteak is the most well known icon of the city, and soft pretzels have become a part of Philadelphia culture. The late 19th century saw the creation of two Philadelphia landmarks, the Reading Terminal Market and Italian Market. After a dismal restaurant scene during the post-war era of the 20th century, the 1970s brought a restaurant renaissance that has continued into the 21st century. Many foods and drinks associated with Philadelphia can also commonly be linked with the Pennsylvania Dutch. Philadelphia’s large immigrant population has contributed to a large mixture of tastes to mingle and develop. Many types of foods have been created in or near Philadelphia or have strong associations with the city. The cheesesteak is a sandwich traditionally made with sliced beef and melted cheese on an Italian roll. In the 1930s, the phenomenon as a steak sandwich began when hot dog vendor brothers Pat Olivieri and Harry Olivieri put grilled beef on a hot dog bun and gave it to a taxi driver. Later, after Pat and Harry had started selling the sandwich on Italian rolls, the cheesesteak was affixed in the local culture when one of their cooks put melted cheese on the sandwich. Originally, the cheese was melted in a separate container to accommodate their large clientele who followed kosher rules (thereby not mixing dairy and meat). Today, cheese choices in Philadelphia eateries are virtually limited to American, Provolone, or Cheez Whiz. The latter is especially popular in those places that prominently carry it. The hoagie is another sandwich that is said to have been invented in Philadelphia, undoubtedly of origin in Italian-American cuisine. It has been asserted that Italians working at the World War I era shipyard in Philadelphia, known as Hog Island where emergency shipping was produced for the war effort, introduced the sandwich, by putting various sliced meats, cheeses, and lettuce between two slices of Italian bread. This became known as the “Hog Island” sandwich; hence, the “hoagie”. Declared the official sandwich of Philadelphia in 1992, the hoagie is a sandwich made of meat and cheese with lettuce, tomatoes, and onions on an Italian roll. Another Italian roll sandwich popularized in Philadelphia by Italian immigrants is the roast pork Italian, or Italian roast pork sandwich, a variation of the Italian street food dish known as porchetta. The sandwich consists of sliced roast pork with broccoli rabe or spinach and provolone cheese. Philadelphia Pepper Pot, a soup of tripe, meat, vegetables, is claimed to have been created during the American Revolutionary War and named after the home city of its creator. Snapper Soup, a thick brown turtle soup served with sherry, is a Philadelphia delicacy, generally found in area bars and seafood restaurants. In many places, it is served with oyster crackers (such as OTC Crackers, OTC being an abbreviation for “Original Trenton Cracker”) and horseradish. The snack item commonly associated with Philadelphia, but not invented there, is the soft pretzel. The soft pretzel dates back to 7th-century France and was brought over to the Philadelphia area by the Pennsylvania Dutch. Pretzels became iconic with Philadelphia by the numerous vendors who would sell them on street corners. Federal Pretzel Baking Company defined the soft pretzel for most Philadelphian’s during the 1900s by first applying mass production and distribution to a distinctive baked flavored family recipe. Another snack associated with Philadelphia is Irish potato candy. The candies have a coconut cream inside (generally made from some blend of coconut, confectioner’s sugar, vanilla, and cream or cream cheese) and are rolled in cinnamon on the outside, resulting in an appearance reminiscent of small potatoes. The treats are about the size of a large marble and are especially popular around St. Patrick’s Day. Oh Ryan’s of Boothwyn claims to be the largest distributor of Irish Potatoes, shipping about 80,000 pounds to major chains and smaller candy stores, mostly in the Philadelphia area. Water ice, known as Italian ice in other Northeastern US cities, is similarly associated with Philadelphia, brought to Philadelphia by Italian immigrants. Water ice likely derives from semi-frozen desserts originating in Italy, specifically granita. The Philadelphia metropolitan area (including Delaware Valley, South Jersey, Southeastern Pennsylvania) is the only region of the United States to refer to the dessert as “water ice”; in other areas, such as New York City, water ice is called “Italian ice”. However, despite the overlap and near synonymity between the two terms, water ice has been described as a specific type of Italian ice originating in Philadelphia, or a “variation on the more broadly-accepted Italian ice.” Certain stands like South Philadelphia’s “Pop’s” or “Italiano’s” became similar products later franchised into new markets like “Rita’s Water Ice“. As with New York City and Chicago, Philadelphia has its own regional variant of hot dog known as the Texas Tommy, originating right outside Philadelphia in Pottstown before spreading throughout the Delaware Valley region and South Jersey. The Texas Tommy hot dog is defined by its use of cheese (usually cheddar cheese) and bacon as toppings. Some variations of the Texas Tommy use other forms of cheese, replacing the cheddar with the Cheez-Whiz found on cheesesteaks. The bacon and cheese are often wrapped around the hot dog, and the hot dog may be cooked using a variety of methods, such as deep frying, barbecuing, or grilling. Condiments such as mustard, ketchup, or relish may be used in addition to the bacon and cheese. Chili is also sometimes added to the Texas Tommy, making the dish resemble more closely a Texas weiner or chili dog with bacon and cheese. Although soda is not purely associated with Philadelphia, it was invented in Philadelphia, with brands that rose to popularity as Hires Root Beer, Franks Beverages’ unique Black Cherry Wishniak or Vanilla Cream, and Levis Champ Cherry. Read more on Wikipedia Cuisine of Philadelphia.

New York-style pizza © - Hungrydudes/cc-by-2.0

New York-style pizza © – Hungrydudes/cc-by-2.0

Cuisine of New York City
The cuisine of New York City comprises many cuisines belonging to various ethnic groups that have entered the United States through the city. Almost all ethnic cuisines are well represented in New York City, both within and outside of the various ethnic neighborhoods. New York City was also the founding city of New York Restaurant Week which has spread around the world due to the discounted prices that such a deal offers. In New York City there are over 12,000 bodegas, delis and groceries and many among them are open 24/7.

Food associated with or popularized in New York City: Hot dogs served with sauerkraut, sweet relish, onion sauce, or mustard, Manhattan clam chowder, New York-style cheesecake, New York-style pizza, New York-style bagel, New York-style pastrami (The best Jewish delis in NYC), Corned beef, Baked pretzels, New York-style Italian ice, Eggs Benedict, Lobster Newberg, Waldorf Salad, Doughnut, Delmonico steak and Black and white cookie.

Eastern European Jewish cuisine: Much of the cuisine usually associated with New York City stems in part from its large community of Eastern European Jews and their descendants. The world famous New York institution of the “Delicatessen,” commonly referred to as a “Deli,” was originally an institution of the city’s Jewry. Parts of New York City’s Jewish fare has become popular around the globe, especially bagels. New York City’s Jewish community is also famously fond of Chinese food, and many members of this community think of it as their second ethnic cuisine. Among the dishes are: Cel-Ray, New York-style pastrami, Brisket, Corned beef, Beef tongue, Knish, New York-style bagels/Lox, Bagel and cream cheese, Cream cheese, Whitefish, Gefilte fish, Blini, Potato pancake, Bialy, Challah, Matzo, Egg cream, Pickling/Dill Pickles, Kishka, Kugel, Matzah ball and Chicken soup.

Dishes invented or claimed in New York City: Bloody Mary, Chef salad, Chicken à la King, Chicken and waffles, Chicken Divan, Cronut, Delmonico steak, Egg cream, Eggs Benedict, General Tso’s chicken, Ice cream cone, Lobster Newberg, Mallomars, Manhattan, Manhattan Special, Pasta primavera, Penne alla vodka, Reuben sandwich, Steak Diane, Spaghetti with meatballs, Vichyssoise and Waldorf salad.

Street food: Arepa, Calzone, Chuan, Churro, Cuchifritos, Dumpling, Falafel, Fried chicken, Fried noodles, Corn dog, Gyros/Shawarma, Hamburger, Hot dog, Italian ice, Italian sausage/Bratwurst, Knish, Mister Softee soft ice cream, Muffin, Piragua, New York-style pizza, Pretzel, Souvlaki/Shish kebab, Stromboli and Taco.

Notable food and beverage companies: The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, AriZona Beverage Company, Balducci’s, Benihana, Blimpie, C-Town Supermarkets, Carnegie Deli, Clinton Street Baking Company & Restaurant, Dean & DeLuca, Dr. Brown’s, Drake’s Cakes, Entenmann’s, Fairway Market, Food Network, Fraunces Tavern, Gray’s Papaya, Grimaldi’s Pizzeria, Häagen-Dazs, Hebrew National, Junior’s, Katz’s Delicatessen, Lindy’s, Lombardi’s Pizza, Nathan’s Famous, Papaya King, PepsiCo, Peter Luger Steak House, Ray’s Pizza, Russian Tea Room, Second Avenue Deli, Serendipity 3, Sbarro, Shake Shack, Stella D’oro, T.G.I. Friday’s, VitaminWater, Yoo-hoo and Zabar’s. Read more on Wikipedia Cuisine of New York City.

Bratwurst with sauerkraut, potatoes and beer © - Dominik Schwind/cc-by-2.0

Bratwurst with sauerkraut, potatoes and beer © – Dominik Schwind/cc-by-2.0

Midwestern cuisine is a regional cuisine of the American Midwest. It draws its culinary roots most significantly from the cuisines of Central, Northern and Eastern Europe, and is influenced by regionally and locally grown foodstuffs and cultural diversity. Everyday Midwestern home cooking generally showcases simple and hearty dishes that make use of the abundance of locally grown foods. Its culinary profiles may seem synonymous with “American food.” The Midwest’s restaurants also offer a diverse mix of ethnic cuisines as well as sophisticated, contemporary techniques.

Sometimes called “the breadbasket of America,” the Midwest serves as a center for grain production, particularly wheat, corn and soybeans. Midwestern states also produce most of the country’s wild rice. Beef and pork processing always have been important Midwestern industries, with a strong role in regional diets. Chicago and Kansas City were historically stockyard and processing centers of the beef trade and Cincinnati, nicknamed ‘Porkopolis’, was once the largest pork-producing city in the world. Iowa is the center of pork production in the U.S. Far from the oceans, Midwesterners traditionally ate little seafood, relying on local freshwater fish, such as perch and trout, supplemented by canned tuna and canned or cured salmon and herring, although modern air shipping of ocean seafood has been increasing Midwesterners’ taste for ocean fish. Dairy products, especially cheese, form an important group of regional ingredients, with Wisconsin known as “America’s Dairyland.” The upper Midwest, a prime fruit-growing region, sees the extensive use of apples, blueberries, cranberries, cherries, peaches and other cold-climate fruit in its cuisine. As with many American regional cuisines, Midwestern cooking has been heavily influenced by immigrant groups. Throughout the northern Midwest, northern European immigrant groups predominated, so Swedish pancakes and Polish pierogi are common. Wisconsin, Missouri, Kansas, Ohio and Illinois were destinations for many ethnic German immigrants, so pork sausages and potatoes are prevalent (Horseshoe Sandwiches are coming from Springfield in Illinois). In the Rust Belt, many Greeks became restaurateurs, imparting a Mediterranean influence. Native American influences show up in the uses of corn and wild rice. Traditionally, Midwestern cooks used a light hand with seasonings, preferring sage, dill, caraway, mustard and parsley to hot, bold and spicy flavors. However, with new waves of immigrants from Latin America and Asia moving into the region, these tastes are changing.

Urban centers
Major urban areas in the Midwest feature distinctive cuisines very different from those of the region’s rural areas, and some larger cities have world-class restaurants.

Barberton in Ohio
Part of the greater Akron area, this small industrial city with a strong Central and Eastern European heritage has a culinary contribution called Barberton Chicken, created by Serbian immigrants, deep fried in lard, and usually accompanied by a hot rice dish, vinegar coleslaw and french fries.

The ethnic mix of the people of Chicago has led to a distinctive cuisine of restaurant foods exclusive to the area, such as Italian beef, the Maxwell Street Polish, the Chicago-style hot dog, Chicago-style pizza, chicken Vesuvio and the jibarito, as well as a large number of steakhouses. Chicago also boasts many gourmet restaurants, as well as a wide variety of ethnic food stores and eateries, most notably Mexican, Polish, Italian, Greek, Indian, Pakistani and Asian, often clustered in ethnic neighborhoods. Many of these cuisines have evolved significantly in Chicago. For example, the Greek cheese dish saganaki was first flambéed at the table in Greektown. Chicago is the Midwest’s center of molecular gastronomy, likely due to the influence of Grant Achatz. As a major rail hub, Chicago historically had access to a broad range of the country’s foodstuffs, so even in the 19th century, Chicagoans could easily buy items like live oysters and reasonably fresh shrimp. Chicago’s oldest signature dish, shrimp de Jonghe, was invented around the turn of the 20th century. Today, flights into O’Hare Airport bring Chicago fresh food from all over the world.

The Queen City is known for its namesake Cincinnati chili, a Greek-inspired meat sauce (ground beef seasoned with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, bay leaf, cumin, chili powder, and unsweetened dark chocolate), served over spaghetti or hot dogs. Unlike chili con carne, Cincinnati-style chili is almost never eaten by itself and is instead consumed in ways or on cheese coneys, which are a regional variation on a chili dog. Goetta, a meat-and-grain sausage or mush made from pork and oats, is unique to the Greater Cincinnati area and “every bit as much a Queen City icon” as Cincinnati chili. It was inspired by the traditional porridge-like German peasant food stripgrutze but incorporates a higher proportion of meat-to-grain and is thicker, forming a sliceable loaf. Slices are typically fried like sausage patties and served for breakfast. More than a million pounds of goetta are served in the Cincinnati area per year. The city has a strong German heritage and a variety of German-oriented restaurants and menu items can be found in the area. Cincinnati’s Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, an annual food and music celebration held each September, is the second-largest in the world. Taste of Cincinnati, the longest running culinary arts festival in the United States, is held each year on Memorial Day weekend. In 2014, local chefs and food writers organized the first annual Cincinnati Food & Wine Classic, which drew chefs and artisan food producers from the region. The area was once a national center for pork processing and is often nicknamed Porkopolis, with many references to that heritage in menu-item names and food-event names; pigs are a “well-loved symbol of the city.”

Cleveland’s many immigrant groups and heavily blue-collar demographic have long played an important role in defining the area’s cuisine. Ethnically, Italian foods as well as several Eastern European cuisines, particularly those of Poland and Hungary, have become gastronomical staples in the Greater Cleveland area. Prominent examples of these include cavatelli, rigatoni, pizza, chicken paprikash, stuffed cabbage, pierogi, and kielbasa all of which are widely popular in and around the city. Local specialties, such as the pork-based dish City Chicken and the Polish Boy (a loaded sausage sandwich native to Cleveland), are dishes definitive of a cuisine that is based on hearty, inexpensive fare. Commercially, Hector Boiardi (aka Chef Boyardee) started his business in Cleveland’s Little Italy, and Mr. Hero, a regional sandwich shop franchise, is based in the area. Sweets specific to the Cleveland area include the coconut bar (similar in many respects to the Australian Lamington). Coconut bars, which are found in many Jewish bakeries in the area, are small squares of cake that have been dipped in chocolate and rolled in coconut. In Italian bakeries around the Cleveland area, a variation of the Cassata cake is widely popular. This local version is unlike those typically found elsewhere being that it is made with layers of sponge cake custard and strawberries, then frosted with whipped cream. In a celebrity-chef nod to this version, Mario Batali as ‘the best Cassata cake in the USA.’

The Columbus area is the home and birthplace of many well-known fast food chains, especially those known for hamburgers. Wendy’s opened its first store in Columbus in 1969, and is now headquartered in nearby Dublin. America’s oldest hamburger chain, White Castle, is based there. Besides burgers, Columbus is noted for the , a neighborhood south of downtown where German cuisine such as sausages and kuchen are served. In recent years, local restaurants focused on organic, seasonal, and locally or regionally sourced food have become more prevalent, especially in the Short North area, between downtown and the OSU campus. Numerous Somali restaurants are also found in the city, particularly around Cleveland Avenue. Columbus is also the birthplace of the famed Marzetti Italian Restaurant, opened in 1896. Owner Teresa Marzetti is credited with creation of the beef-and-pasta casserole named after her brother-in-law, Johnny Marzetti. The restaurant’s popular salad dressings became the foundation for the T. Marzetti Company, an international specialty foods manufacturer and distributor, headquartered in Columbus.

Detroit specialties include Coney Island hot dogs, found at hundreds of unaffiliated “Coney Island” restaurants. Not to be confused with a chili dog, a coney is served with a ground beef sauce, chopped onions and mustard. The Coney Special has an additional ground beef topping. It is often served with French fries. Food writers Jane and Michael Stern call out Detroit as the only “place to start” in pinpointing “the top Coney Islands in the land.” Detroit also has its own style of pizza, a thick-crusted, Sicilian cuisine-influenced, rectangular type called square pizza. Other Detroit foods include zip sauce, served on steaks; the triple-decker Dinty Moore sandwich, corned beef layered with lettuce, tomato and Russian dressing; and a Chinese-American dish called warr shu gai or almond boneless chicken. The Detroit area has many large groups of immigrants. A large Arabic-speaking population reside in and around the suburb of Dearborn, home to many Lebanese storefronts. Detroit also has a substantial number of Greek restaurateurs. Thus, numerous Mediterranean restaurants dot the region and typical foods such as gyros, hummus and falafel can be found in many run-of-the-mill grocery stores and restaurants. Polish food is also prominent in the region, including popular dishes such as pierogi, borscht, and pączki. Bakeries concentrated in the Polish enclave of Hamtramck within the city, are celebrated for their pączki, especially on Fat Tuesday. Hungarian food is featured in east Toledo. In nearby Ann Arbor the Chipati, a tossed salad, is served inside a freshly baked pita pocket with the “secret” Chipati sauce on the side. The Chipati’s origination is claimed by both Pizza Bob’s on S. State St. and by Pizza House on Church St.

Indianapolis was settled predominantly by Americans of British descent and Irish and German immigrants, so much of the city’s food draws upon these influences. Much of the food is considered to be “Classic American Cuisine”. Later immigrants included many Jews, Eastern Europeans and Italians, all of whom influenced local food. Two of the city’s most distinct dishes are the pork tenderloin sandwich and sugar cream pie. A fast-growing immigrant population from places such as Mexico and India is also beginning to influence the local food. The area offers many diverse, locally owned ethnic restaurants, as well as nationally and internationally renowned restaurants. Indy is also home to many local pubs.

Kansas City
Kansas City is an important barbecue and meat-processing center with a distinctive barbecue style. The Kansas City metropolitan area has more than 100 barbecue restaurants and proclaims itself to be the “world’s barbecue capital.” The Kansas City Barbeque Society spreads its influence across the nation through its barbecue-contest standards. The oldest continuously operating barbecue restaurant is Rosedale Barbecue near downtown Kansas City. Other popular barbecue restaurants are Gates Bar-B-Q, Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que and Arthur Bryant’s. Both Arthur Bryant’s and Gates Bar-B-Q sell bottled versions of their barbecue sauces in restaurants and specialty stores in the surrounding areas.

The capital and second-largest city in the state of Wisconsin, Madison has a diverse and cosmopolitan food scene. One representative is Dane County Farmers’ Market, the largest producers-only farmer’s market in the nation.

Mansfield in Ohio
Mansfield is the home of two well-known food companies. Isaly Dairy Company (aka Isaly’s) was a chain of family-owned dairies and restaurants started by William Isaly in the early 1900s until the 1970s, famous for creating the Klondike Bar ice cream treat, popularized by the slogan “What would you do for a Klondike Bar?”. Stewart’s Restaurants is a chain of root beer stands started in Mansfield by Frank Stewart in 1924, famous for their Stewart’s Fountain Classics line of premium beverages now sold worldwide.

German immigrants settled in Milwaukee. Sauerkraut, bratwurst, beer, and other traditional German favorites continue to be popular, both in homes and at Milwaukee’s famous German restaurants. Milwaukee also offers a diverse selection of other ethnic restaurants. Served under various names, a favorite sandwich for Milwaukeeans and Wisconsinites consists of a brat (often butterflied to lay flat) on top of a hamburger in a kaiser roll. Frozen custard is a local favorite in the Cream City, with many competing stands throughout the area. Cheese curds are another local favorite, and Wisconsinites enjoy them “squeaky” (cold), or fried (usually in batter). Also known as Brew City, Milwaukee is home to many breweries and the traditional and nominal headquarters for national beer brands.

Minneapolis and Saint Paul
Minneapolis and Saint Paul offer a diverse array of cuisines influenced by their many immigrant groups, as well as those restaurant chefs who follow the trends of larger cities. While at-home fare varies broadly within various ethnic groups and their culture, historically, the overall majority of Minnesotans were of European ancestry, many with farming backgrounds and many home cooked meals still reflect this, with comfort food items such as hotdish, hearty soups and stews and meat and potatoes commonly being served. Many Minnesotans claim some Scandinavian heritage, and while iconic dishes such as lefse and lutefisk are quite commonly served at home as well as church potlucks and community get-togethers, few restaurants serve these items. Another popular item in Minnesota is wild rice which has been gathered in area lakes by Native Americans for centuries. In the fall, the Twin Cities share along with Green Bay, Wisconsin, the tradition of the neighborhood booyah, a cuisine and cultural event featuring a hodge-podge of ingredients in stews. One item of note, Minneapolis and Saint Paul pioneered the Jucy Lucy (or “Juicy Lucy”), a hamburger with a core of melted cheese. American restaurants in the Twin Cities supply a wide spectrum of choices and styles that range from small diners offering simple short order grill fare and the typical sports bars and decades old supper clubs to high-end steakhouses and eateries that serve new American cuisine using locally grown ingredients. Most types of American regional cuisine can be found at restaurants in the Twin Cities. Barbecue restaurants in the area tend to feature a combination of the various regional styles of this type of cooking. Germans comprise the majority of the state’s ethnic heritage and one can find authentic German cuisine at the Glockenspiel Restaurant in Saint Paul, the Gasthaus Bavarian Hunter in nearby Stillwater, and at the Black Forest Inn and the Gasthof zur Gemutlichkeit both found in Minneapolis. The latter restaurant is in Minneapolis’ Northeast community which is also home to thriving Czech, Polish, Ukrainian and other Eastern European restaurants such as Jax Café, Kramarczuk’s and Mayslack’s lending this area an old world character and charm. The Twin Cities can also boast of authentic French, Irish, Italian and Russian restaurants. Spanish tapas restaurants exist, but are more trendy than homage. In the Twin Cities, pizzerias tend to be American rather than rustic Italian although they too exist and offer inventive recipes. Authentic Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants are quite popular in the Twin Cities, as there are Hispanic neighborhoods in both Saint Paul and Minneapolis. Many entrepreneurs have taken authentic Mexican cuisine into the suburbs as well. Latin American purveyors are also pioneering their home cuisines from Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, Peru and the West Indies offering authentic churrasco and ceviche among their dining options. Asian cuisine was initially dominated by Chinese Cantonese immigrants that served Americanized offerings. In 1883 Woo Yee Sing and his younger brother, Woo Du Sing, opened the Canton Cafe in Minneapolis, the first Chinese restaurant in Minnesota. Authentic offerings began at the influential Nankin Cafe which opened in 1919, and many new Chinese immigrants soon took this cuisine throughout the Twin Cities and to the suburbs. Authentic Chinese cuisine from the provinces of Hunan and Szechaun and from Beijing, Shanghai and Taiwan are relatively new. The cuisine of Japan has been present since the opening of the area’s very first Japanese restaurant, Fuji Ya in 1959. Since then, sushi and teppanyaki restaurants have also become increasingly more common. In the 1970s the Twin Cities saw a large influx of Southeast Asian immigrants from Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. The Twin Cities are home to many restaurants that serve the cuisines of the Mediterranean and the Middle East. There are numerous Greek restaurants that range from fine dining to casual fast food shops that specialize in gyros. In both Minneapolis and Saint Paul, there exist long established Jewish cafes and delicatessens. Lebanese restaurants have also had a long time presence in both cities. Authentic offerings of Arab cuisine, as well as other Middle Eastern cuisines, exist in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Metropolitan area. Egyptian, Iranian (Persian), Kurdish, and Turkish restaurants can be found throughout the Twin Cities. Related cuisines from Northeast Africa can also be found throughout the Twin Cities metropolitan area. While restaurants that serve Ethiopian dishes have been in the Twin Cities for decades, more recent immigrants from Somalia have also opened a number of restaurants in Minnesota. Somali cuisine consists of an exotic mixture of native Somali, Ethiopian, Yemeni, Indian, Persian, Turkish and Italian culinary influences. In addition, West African immigrants have introduced their own unique cuisine in recent years. There is also a presence of Afro-Caribbean restaurants. The University of Minnesota has been a center for food research with inventions such as the Honeycrisp apple. The Minnesota State Fair offers a sampling of many cuisines each year and Twin Citians claim that the all-American Corn Dog and Pronto Pup made their very first appearances there. Additionally, many important agricultural conglomerates, including Cargill, General Mills, Pillsbury, and International Multifoods make their home in Minneapolis-Saint Paul. The Betty Crocker food brand (named after a non-existent housewife) was born there. Several national restaurant chains, such as Buca di Beppo, Famous Dave’s and the now defunct Chi-Chi’s started in the Twin Cities. Buffalo Wild Wings, Dairy Queen, KarmelKorn Shoppes, Old Country Buffet, Orange Julius and T.G.I. Friday’s (a division of Carlson Companies) are also well known chains headquartered in the Twin Cities.

Omaha has some unusual steakhouses such as the famous Gorat’s, several of which are Sicilian in origin or adjacent to the Omaha Stockyards. Central European and Southern influences can be seen in the local popularity of carp and South 24th Street contains a multitude of Mexican restaurants. North Omaha also has its own barbecue style. Omaha is one of the places claiming to have invented the reuben sandwich, supposedly named for Reuben Kulakofsky, a grocer from the Dundee neighborhood. Omaha also has a thriving local pizza scene, with popular restaurants including Zio’s, La Casa, Mama’s and Valentino’s. However, Big Fred’s and Johnny Sortino’s are the two that routinely vie for the title of the best pizza in town. The cheese frenchee is also a local favorite and staple, originating from the original King’s Food Host fast food restaurants. Today in Omaha, you can find them at Amigos/Kings Classic and Don & Millies fast food restaurants.

St. Louis
The large number of Irish and German immigrants who came to St. Louis beginning in the early nineteenth century contributed significantly to the shaping of local cuisine as confirmed by a variety of uses of beef, pork and chicken, often roasted or grilled, as well as a variety of desserts including rich cakes, stollens, fruit pies, doughnuts and cookies. Even a local form of fresh stick pretzel, called Gus’s Pretzels, has been sold singly or by the bagful by street corner vendors. Mayfair salad dressing was invented at a St. Louis hotel of the same name, and is richer than Caesar salad dressing. St. Louis is also known for popularizing the ice cream cone and for inventing gooey butter cake (a rich, soft-centered coffee cake) and frozen custard. Iced tea is also rumored to have been invented at the World’s Fair, as well as the hot dog bun. Although St. Louis is typically not included on the list of major styles of barbecue in the United States, it was recognized by Kingsford as “America’s Top Grilling City” in its second annual list of “Top 10 Grilling Cities.” A staple of grilling in St. Louis is the pork steak, which is sliced from the shoulder of the pig and often basted with or simmered in barbecue sauce during cooking. Other popular grilled items include crispy snoots, cut from the cheeks and nostrils of the pig; bratwurst; and Italian sausage, often referred to as “sah-zittsa,” a localization of its Italian name, salsiccia. Maull’s is a popular brand of barbecue sauce in the St. Louis area. St. Louis-style barbecue refers to spare ribs associated with the St. Louis area. These are usually grilled rather than slow-cooked over indirect heat with smoke which is typically associated with the term barbecue in the United States. Restaurants on The Hill reflect the lasting influence of the early twentieth century Milanese and Sicilian immigrant community. Two unique Italian-American style dishes include “toasted” ravioli, which is breaded and fried, and St. Louis-style pizza, which has a crisp, thin crust and is usually made with Provel cheese instead of traditional mozzarella cheese. A Poor boy sandwich is the traditional name in St. Louis for a submarine sandwich. A St. Paul sandwich is a St. Louis sandwich, available in Chinese-American restaurants. A Slinger is a diner and late night specialty consisting of eggs, hash browns and hamburger, topped with chili, cheese and onion. Read more on Wikipedia Cuisine of the Midwest.

Chicago-style hot dog with duck-fat fries © - Aneil Lutchman/cc-by-sa-2.0

Chicago-style hot dog with duck-fat fries © – Aneil Lutchman/cc-by-sa-2.0

Cuisine of Chicago
Chicago lays claim to a large number of regional specialties that reflect the city’s ethnic and working-class roots. Included among these are its nationally renowned deep-dish pizza; this style is said to have originated at Pizzeria Uno. The Chicago-style thin crust is also popular in the city. A number of well-known chefs have had restaurants in Chicago, including Charlie Trotter, Rick Tramonto, Grant Achatz, and Rick Bayless. In 2003, Robb Report named Chicago the country’s “most exceptional dining destination” and in 2008, Maxim awarded Chicago the title of “Tastiest City.”

Local specialties: The most popular Chicago-style foods are:

  • The Chicago-style hot dog, traditionally a steamed or boiled, natural-casing all-beef wiener on a poppy-seed bun, topped with yellow mustard, chopped onion, sliced tomato, neon-green sweet-pickle relish, sport peppers, a dill pickle spear, and a sprinkling of celery salt—but never ketchup.
  • Chicago-style pizza is deep-dish pizza with a tall outer crust and large amounts of cheese, with chunky tomato sauce on top of the cheese instead of underneath it. Similar to this is stuffed pizza, with even more cheese, topped with a second, thinner crust. Thin-crust pizza is also very popular in Chicago.
  • The Italian beef, a sandwich featuring thinly sliced roast beef simmered in a broth (known locally as “gravy”) containing Italian-style seasonings and served on an Italian roll soaked in the meat juices. Most beef stands offer a “cheesy beef” option, which is typically the addition of a slice of provolone or mozzarella. A “combo” is a beef sandwich with the addition of grilled Italian sausage. Italian beef sandwiches are traditionally topped with sweet peppers or spicy giardiniera.

Other Chicago-style dishes include:

  • Chicken Vesuvio, an Italian-American dish made from chicken on the bone and wedges of potato, celery, and carrots; sauteed with garlic, oregano, white wine, and olive oil, then baked until the chicken’s skin becomes crisp.
  • Shrimp DeJonghe, a casserole of whole peeled shrimp blanketed in soft, garlicky, sherry-laced bread crumbs.
  • Maxwell Street Polish, named after Maxwell Street where it was first sold. It’s a Polish sausage made with beef and pork, and with garlic and other spices, served on a bun with grilled onions.
  • A francheezie is a variation of the Chicago-style hot dog. The hot dog is wrapped in bacon and deep-fried, and either stuffed or topped with cheese.
  • The jibarito is a specialty sandwich that originated in the heart of Chicago’s Puerto Rican community. Invented by Borinquen Restaurant in the Humboldt Park neighborhood, a jibarito is made with meat or chicken, and condiments, placed between two pieces of fried and flattened plantain instead of bread.
  • The mother-in-law is a tamale on a hot dog bun, topped with chili.
  • Chicago also has its own unique style of tamale, machine-extruded from cornmeal and wrapped in paper, and typically sold at hot dog stands.
  • Gyros is popular in Chicago. While some restaurants still make their own gyros cones, Chicago is the hometown of mass-produced gyros.
  • Flaming saganaki was popularized by restaurants in the Greektown neighborhood. A square piece of kasseri, kefalotyri, or a similar cheese is fried in a small, two-handled pan, topped with a splash of brandy, and served flambé-style, traditionally with a cry of “Opa!” from the waiter.
  • A pizza puff is a deep-fried dough pocket filled with cheese, tomato sauce, and other pizza ingredients such as sausage. Indigenous to Chicago, pizza puffs can be found at some hot dog restaurants.
  • A pepper and egg sandwich combines scrambled eggs and grilled bell peppers, served on French bread. Originally eaten during Lent by Italian immigrants in Chicago, it now can be found in some casual dining restaurants.

Less well known are:

  • The more provincial South Side specialties such as the big baby, a style of double cheeseburger with the cheese in between the hamburger patties, ketchup, mustard, and pickle slices underneath them, and grilled onions on top; said to have originated at Nicky’s The Real McCoy in the Gage Park neighborhood.
  • The breaded-steak sandwich, a specialty particularly found in the Bridgeport neighborhood, which consists of a flattened inexpensive cut of beef that has been breaded, fried Milanesa-style and served on an Italian bread roll with marinara sauce, topped with optional mozzarella cheese and/or green peppers.
  • The gym shoe (sometimes spelled Jim Shoe or Jim Shoo), a submarine sandwich made with a combination of corned beef, gyros, and either roast beef or Italian beef.
  • Aquarium-smoked barbecue, particularly rib tips and hot links. This is barbecue that has been cooked in a rectangular indoor smoker with glass sides and a large compartment for a wood fire under the grill. Barbecued ribs are also very popular in Chicago.
  • Atomic cake, featuring banana, yellow, and chocolate cake layers alternating with banana, strawberry, and fudge fillings.
  • Chicago mix popcorn, which consists of caramel corn and cheese-flavored popcorn mixed together.

Restaurant scene
Chicago features many restaurants that highlight the city’s various ethnic neighborhoods, including Chinatown on the South Side, Greektown on Halsted Street, and Little Italy on Taylor Street and the Heart of Italy. The South Asian community along Devon Avenue hosts many Pakistani and Indian eateries. The predominantly Mexican neighborhoods of Pilsen and Little Village are home to numerous eateries ranging from small taquerías to full scale restaurants. Several restaurants featuring Middle Eastern fare can be found along Lawrence Avenue, while Polish cuisine is well represented along Milwaukee Avenue on the Northwest side and Archer Avenue on the Southwest side. A large concentration of Vietnamese restaurants can be found in the Argyle Street district in Uptown. Chicago has its own local fried-chicken chain, Harold’s Chicken Shack. The city is also home to many fried-shrimp shacks. Along with ethnic fare and fast food, Chicago is home to many steakhouses, as well as a number of upscale dining establishments serving a wide array of cuisine. Some notable destinations include Frontera Grill, a gourmet Mexican restaurant owned by chef and Mexico: One Plate at a Time host, Rick Bayless; Graham Elliot‘s eponymous restaurant, Graham Elliot; Jean Joho‘s Everest, a new-French restaurant located on the top floor of the Chicago Stock Exchange building downtown, and Tru from chefs Rick Tramonto and Gale Gand. Chicago has become known for its ventures in molecular gastronomy, with chefs Grant Achatz of Alinea, Homaro Cantu of Moto, and Michael Carlson of Schwa. Taste of Chicago is a large annual food festival held in early July in Grant Park in downtown Chicago. It features booths from dozens of Chicago-area restaurants, as well as live music.

Chicago has a long brewing history that dates back to the early days of the city. While its era of mass-scale commercial breweries largely came to an end with Prohibition, the city today has a large number of microbreweries and brewpubs. Included among these are craft brewers like Argus, Half Acre, Metropolitan, Off Color, Pipeworks and Revolution Brewing. The two largest breweries in Chicago are Lagunitas, based in Petaluma in California and now owned by Heineken International, and Goose Island, founded in Chicago in 1988 and now owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev. Annual events include Chicago Craft Beer Week, the Festival of Barrel-Aged Beers (known as FOBAB), the Chicago Beer Festival, and the Chicago Beer Classic (formerly called the American Beer Classic). In the mid- to late-twentieth century, the most popular beer in Chicago was Old Style, a mass-produced lager that at the time was brewed by G. Heileman in La Crosse in Wisconsin. The Old Style brand is now owned by the Pabst Brewing Company which supervises its production under contract.

Distilled spirits
Jeppson’s Malört is a brand of bäsk, a Swedish-style liqueur flavored with wormwood. Known for its bitter taste, it can be found in some Chicago-area taverns and liquor stores, but is seldom seen elsewhere in the country. The Carl Jeppson Company was founded in Chicago in the 1930s and is still based there, but the beverage is now distilled in Florida. Koval, Chicago’s first distillery to operate within city limits since Prohibition, began operation in 2008. Located in the Andersonville neighborhood on the city’s North Side, Koval offers a wide range of spirits and was featured on the Chicago (“World’s Greenest Beer”) episode during the second season of the Esquire Network show Brew Dogs in 2014. Read more on Wikipedia Culture of Chicago.

Cincinnati chili 4-way garnished with oyster crackers © TheDapperDan

Cincinnati chili 4-way garnished with oyster crackers © TheDapperDan

Cuisine of Cincinnati
Cincinnati chili is “one of this nation’s most distinctive regional plates of food,” according to national food writers Jane and Michael Stern. It is a Mediterranean-spiced meat sauce served over spaghetti or hot dogs at several chains such as Skyline Chili, Gold Star Chili, Empress Chili, and Dixie Chili plus independents such as Camp Washington Chili. The chili is best appreciated not in a bowl, as one would with the chunkier, “Tex-Mex” chili, but rather, as a sauce to cover a plate of spaghetti, covered in shredded cheddar cheese (3-way), the latter with onions or beans (4-way) or with both (as a 5-way), all topped off with oyster crackers and to some, hot sauce. It can also be placed on top of a hot dog in a steamed bun with mustard and onions, and topped with cheddar cheese (referred to as a cheese coney). Cincinnati‘s German heritage is also evidenced by the many eateries that specialize in schnitzels and hearty Bavarian cooking. The Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati is one of the largest oktoberfest’s in the world, second only behind Munich‘s Oktoberfest.

Findlay Market
Findlay Market is the oldest continuously-operated public market in the state of Ohio.

Goetta is a meat-and-grain sausage or mush of German inspiration that is popular in the greater Cincinnati area. It is primarily composed of ground meat (pork, or pork and beef), pin-head oatmeal and spices formed into a loaf and then sliced and fried, often in butter, “to a melt-in-the-mouth tenderness.”

Graeter’s is a regional chain of ice cream parlors that also sells baked goods and candies. It was founded by Louis “Charlie” and Regina Graeter, husband-and-wife immigrants from Bavaria, in 1870, and grew into a chain under Regina’s leadership following her husband’s death. The Graeter family still runs the chain, which has spread beyond the Cincinnati area with chain-owned and franchised locations in several regional metropolitan areas, plus one store on the Las Vegas Strip. Pints of the ice cream are also sold in grocery stores in all U.S. states except Hawaii and the Dakotas. Oprah Winfrey is a fan of Graeter’s and caused sales to skyrocket when she raved about the ice cream on her show.

Montgomery Inn
Montgomery Inn is a local barbecue restaurant that is internationally known for its signature sauce. Bob Hope would frequently have the restaurant’s ribs flown to his home in California.

Dewey’s is a Cincinnati area based pizza company that specializes in a variety of gourmet and delicious pizzas, salads, and calzones. Their fluffy crusted and original pizzas are a Cincinnati favorite, and there are many locations throughout Greater Cincinnati.

Arnold’s Bar and Grill
Arnold’s Bar and Grill is the oldest continuously-operated bar in the city and one of the oldest in the country. It was founded in 1861 and has had only four owners, most of whom have lived upstairs. Read more on Wikipedia Culture of Cincinnati.

Brunswick Stew © - Joe Loong/cc-by-sa-2.0

Brunswick Stew © – Joe Loong/cc-by-sa-2.0

The American South
The cuisine of the Southern United States developed in the former slave-holding states of the U.S., influenced by African, English, Scottish, Irish, French, and Native American cuisines. Tidewater, Appalachian, Creole, Lowcountry, and Floribbean are examples of types of Southern cuisine. In recent history, elements of Southern cuisine have spread north, having an effect on the development of other types of American cuisine. Many elements of Southern cooking—squash, corn (and its derivatives, including grits), and deep-pit barbecuing—are borrowings from southeast American Indian tribes such as the Caddo, Choctaw, and Seminole. Sugar, flour, milk, and eggs come from Europe; the Southern fondness for fried foods is Scottish, and the old-fashioned Virginian use of ragouts comes from the West Country of England. Black-eyed peas, okra, rice, eggplant, benne (sesame) seed, sorghum, and melons, as well as most spices used in the South, are originally African; a preponderance of slaves imported to Virginia in early years were Igbo from the Bight of Biafra, and down to the present day Southern and Nigerian cuisines have many flavors and elements in common. The South’s fondness for a full breakfast (as opposed to a Continental one with a simple bread item and drink) derives from the British full breakfast or fry-up, variously known as the full English breakfast, full Scottish, full Irish, full Welsh, and Ulster Fry. Many Southern foodways, especially in Appalachia, are Scottish or Border meals adapted to the new subtropical climate; pork, once considered informally taboo in Scotland, takes the place of lamb and mutton, and instead of chopped oats, Southerners eat chopped hominy (although oatmeal is much more common now than it once was). Parts of the South have other cuisines, though. Creole cuisine is mostly vernacular French, West African and Spanish; Floribbean cuisine is Spanish-based with obvious Caribbean influences; and Tex-Mex has considerable Mexican and Native American influences.

A traditional Southern meal is pan-fried chicken, field peas (such as black-eyed peas), greens (such as collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, or poke salad), mashed potatoes, cornbread or corn pone, sweet tea, and dessert—typically a pie (sweet potato, chess, shoofly, pecan, and peach are the most common), or a cobbler (peach, blackberry, sometimes apple in Kentucky or Appalachia). Other Southern foods include grits, country ham, hushpuppies, beignets, Southern styles of succotash, chicken fried steak, buttermilk biscuits (may be served with butter, jelly, fruit preserves, honey, gravy or sorghum molasses), pimento cheese, boiled or baked sweet potatoes, pit barbecue, fried catfish, fried green tomatoes, bread pudding, okra (principally dredged in cornmeal and fried, but also steamed, stewed, sauteed, or pickled), butter beans, pinto beans, and black-eyed peas. Fried chicken is among the region’s best-known exports. It is believed that the Scots, and later Scottish immigrants to many southern states had a tradition of deep frying chicken in fat, unlike their English counterparts who baked or boiled chicken. Pork is an integral part of the cuisine. Stuffed ham is served in Southern Maryland. A traditional holiday get-together featuring whole hog barbecue is known in Virginia and the Carolinas as a pig pickin’. Green beans are often flavored with bacon and salt pork, turnip greens are stewed with pork and served with vinegar, ham biscuits (biscuits cut in half with slices of salt ham served between the halves) often accompany breakfast, and ham with red-eye gravy or country gravy is a common dinner dish. Southern meals sometimes consist only of vegetables, with a little meat (especially salt pork) used in cooking but with no meat dish served. “Beans and greens”—white or brown beans served alongside a “mess” of greens stewed with a little bacon—is a traditional meal in many parts of the South. (Turnip greens are the typical greens for such a meal; they’re cooked with some diced turnip and a piece of fatback.) Other low-meat Southern meals include beans and cornbread—the beans being pinto beans stewed with ham or bacon—and Hoppin’ John (black-eyed peas, rice, onions, red or green pepper, and bacon). Coleslaw is also popular, both as a side dish and on a variety of barbecued and fried meats. Apart from it, though, Southern cooking makes little use of cabbage.

Chains serving Southern foods—often along with American comfort food—have had great success; many have spread across the country (or across the world), while others have chosen to stay in the South. Pit barbecue is popular all over the American South; unlike the rest of the country, most of the rural South has locally owned, non-franchise pit-barbecue restaurants, many serving the regional style of barbecue instead of the nationally predominant Kansas City style. Family-style restaurants serving Southern cuisine are common throughout the South, and range from the humble and down-home to the decidedly upscale. Read more on Wikipedia Cuisine of the South.

Biscuits and sausage gravy © - jeffreyw/cc-by-2.0

Biscuits and sausage gravy © – jeffreyw/cc-by-2.0

Appalachian cuisine
Travel distances, conditions, and poor roads limited most early settlements to foods that could be grown or produced locally. For farmers, pigs and chickens were the primary source of meat, with many farmers maintaining their own smokehouses to produce a variety of hams, bacon, and sausages. Seafood, beyond the occasionally locally caught fresh-water fish (pan-fried catfish is much loved) and crawfish, were unavailable until modern times. However, Appalachia did offer a wide variety of wild game, with venison, rabbit and squirrel particularly common, thus helping to compensate for distance from major cities and transportation networks. The popularity of hunting and fishing in Appalachia means that game and fresh-water fish were often staples of the table. Deer, wild turkey, grouse and other game birds are hunted and utilized in many recipes from barbecue to curing and jerky. As wheat flour and baking powder/baking soda became available in the late 19th century, buttermilk biscuits became popular. Cornbread was the most common bread in the mountains, yet still remains a staple. Salt, a necessity for life, was always available (much of it coming from Saltville, Virginia), and local seasonings like spicebush were certainly known and used; but the only other seasonings used in the mountains are black pepper and flaked red pepper, along with a little use of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves around Christmas. Coffee, drunk without milk and only lightly sweetened, is a basic drink in Appalachia, often consumed with every meal; in wartime, chicory was widely used as a coffee substitute. Today, buttermilk biscuits and sausage gravy are the classic Appalachian breakfast; they are also a common breakfast everywhere where Appalachian people have emigrated. Both North Carolina and West Virginia have statewide biscuit chain restaurants; many Southern or originally-Southern chains offer biscuits and gravy, and when McDonald’s introduced a new breakfast menu selling either Egg McMuffins (with English muffins) or a variant with biscuits, the biscuit zone was practically a map of the South. The gravy for biscuits and gravy is typically sausage or sawmill, not the red-eye gravy (made with coffee) used in the lowland South. Pork drippings from frying sausage, bacon, and other types of pan-fried pork are collected and saved, used for making gravy and in greasing cast-iron cookware. (Note that Appalachia is overwhelmingly Protestant, the Catholic prohibition on meat-eating during Lent had no impact on Appalachian cuisine.) Chicken and dumplings and fried chicken remain much-loved dishes. Cornbread, corn pone, hominy grits, mush, cornbread pudding and hominy stew are also quite common foods, as corn is the primary grain grown in the Appalachian hills and mountains, but are less common than in the past. In contrast to the lowlands, where sugar cane molasses was the usual sweetener, Appalachia mainly used sorghum and honey. European fruits—especially apples and pears—can grow in the mountains, and sweet fried apples are a common side dish. Appalachian cuisine also makes use of berries, both native and European, and some parts of the mountains are high enough or far enough north that sugar maple grows there—allowing for maple syrup and maple sugar production. Wild morel mushrooms and ramps (similar to scallions and leeks) are often collected; there are even festivals dedicated to ramps, and they figure in some Appalachian fairy tales. Home canning, of both garden and foraged foods, is a strong tradition in Appalachia as well; mason jars are an everyday sight in mountain life; the most common canned foods are savory vegetables: green beans (half-runners, snaps), shelly beans (green beans that were more mature and had ripe beans along with the green husks), and tomatoes, as well as jam, jelly and local fruits. Dried pinto beans are a major staple food during the winter months, used to make the ubiquitous ham-flavored bean soup usually called soup beans. Kieffer pears and apple varietals are used to make pear butter and apple butter. Also popular are bread and butter pickles, fried mustard greens with vinegar, pickled beets, chow-chow (commonly called “chow”), a relish known as corn ketchup and fried green tomatoes; tomatoes are also used in tomato gravy, a variant of sausage gravy with a thinner, lighter roux. A variety of wild fruits like pawpaws, wild blackberries, and persimmons are also commonly available in Appalachia as well. Read more on Wikipedia Appalachian cuisine.

Kentucky Burgoo © - Mack Male/cc-by-sa-2.0

Kentucky Burgoo © – Mack Male/cc-by-sa-2.0

Kentucky cuisine
The cuisine of Kentucky mostly resembles that of traditional Southern cuisine. Some common dinner dishes are fried catfish and hushpuppies, fried chicken and country fried steak. These are usually served with vegetables such as green beans, greens, pinto beans (or “soup beans”) slowed cooked with pork as seasoning and served with cornbread. Some other popular items would include fried green tomatoes, cheese grits, corn pudding, fried okra, and chicken and dumplin’s, which can be found across the commonwealth. In addition to this, Kentucky is known for its own regional style of barbecue. This style of barbecue is unique in itself given that it uses mutton, and is a style of Southern barbecue unique to Kentucky. Although Kentucky’s cuisine is generally very similar to that of traditional Southern cuisine, it does differ with some unique dishes, especially in Louisville where the Hot Brown and Derby pie originated, although Derby pie is somewhat similar to pecan pie, which is standard among traditional Southern cuisine. In northwestern parts of Kentucky burgoo is a favorite, while in southwestern parts of the state regular chili con carne is typical staple. In northern Kentucky plus a smaller amount in Louisville and Lexington Cincinnati chili is a popular fast food. That region and the Louisville area also are both home to a pronounced German-American population, translating into northern-like preferences for beer and European sausages. However, the remainder of the state’s cuisine tends to be thoroughly Southern, preferring breakfast meats like country ham, ground pork sausage and as their beverage of choice, the state’s renowned bourbon whiskey. Some common desserts would be chess pie, pecan pie, blackberry cobbler and bread pudding.

Notable dishes and recipes

Read more on Wikipedia Cuisine of Kentucky.

Oysters Rockefeller © - Dan Perry/cc-by-2.0

Oysters Rockefeller © – Dan Perry/cc-by-2.0

Cuisine of New Orleans
Some of the dishes originated in New Orleans, while others are common and popular in the city and surrounding areas, such as the Mississippi River Delta and southern Louisiana. The cuisine of New Orleans is heavily influenced by Creole cuisine, Cajun cuisine, and soul food. Seafood also plays a prominent part in the cuisine. Dishes invented in New Orleans include po’ boy and muffuletta sandwiches, oysters Rockefeller and oysters Bienville, pompano en papillote, and bananas Foster, among others.

Entrees and side dishes

  • Andouille – a smoked sausage made with pork shoulder roast, garlic, and other spices; often used as an ingredient in dishes such as gumbo and jambalaya
  • Blackened redfish – a redfish filet, coated with a mixture of seasonings and flash-fried in a red-hot cast iron skillet; the skin of the fish is charred black, while the inside is moist and tender
  • Boiled seafood – boiled shellfish such as crawfish, shrimp, and crabs, often served with boiled corn and potatoes
  • Calas – dumplings composed primarily of cooked rice, yeast, sugar, eggs, and flour; the resulting batter is deep-fried. It is traditionally a breakfast dish, served with coffee or cafe au lait
  • Couche-Couche – a fried cornmeal dish that is traditionally eaten for breakfast. Ingredients such as eggs, raisins, milk, or syrup are sometimes added
  • Dirty rice – a traditional Cajun and Creole dish made from white rice that gets a “dirty” color from being cooked with small pieces of chicken liver or giblets, green bell pepper, celery, and onion, and spiced with cayenne and black pepper
  • Eggs Sardou – poached eggs with artichoke bottoms, creamed spinach, and hollandaise sauce, sometimes with other ingredients such as anchovies or chopped ham
  • Étouffée – crawfish (or sometimes other shellfish such as shrimp or crabs) cooked using a technique called smothering, with roux, Cajun spices, and other ingredients, and served with rice
  • Gumbo – a stew of meat and/or shellfish, with celery, bell peppers, onions, and a stock made with either okra, filé powder, or roux
  • Jambalaya – a dish of rice and meat (often a combination of andouille sausage, chicken, and shrimp) cooked with vegetables and Creole spices
  • Maque choux – a creamy corn stew, usually made with bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes; it is sometimes braised with bacon or tasso
  • Muffuletta – a sandwich on a muffuletta bread (a round Italian bread with sesame seeds), with olive salad spread on the bread, filled with various meats and cheeses such as ham, capicola, salami, mortadella, mozzarella, and provolone
  • Oysters Bienville – a traditional dish in New Orleans cuisine, it consists of filled, baked oysters. Ingredients include shrimp, mushrooms, bell peppers, sherry, a roux with butter, Parmesan cheese and other lighter cheese, as well as bread crumbs.
  • Oysters en brochette – a classic dish in New Orleans Creole cuisine, raw oysters are skewered, alternating with pieces of partially cooked bacon. The entire dish is then broiled or breaded (usually with corn flour) then either deep fried or sautéed
  • Oysters Rockefeller – oysters on the half-shell that have been topped with parsley and other green herbs, a rich butter sauce, and bread crumbs, and then baked or broiled
  • Pistolette – either of two bread-based dishes in Louisiana cuisine. One is a stuffed and fried bread roll (sometimes called stuffed pistolettes) in the Cajun areas around Lafayette. The other is a type of submarine shaped bread about half the size of a baguette that is popular in New Orleans for Vietnamese bánh mì and other sandwiches
  • Po’ boy – a submarine sandwich on a wide piece of French bread; popular fillings include fried seafood such as shrimp, oysters, or catfish, and the more traditional roast beef with brown gravy; usually topped with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, and remoulade
  • Pompano en Papillote – a pompano filet cooked en papillote, i.e. in a sealed parchment paper envelope, with a white sauce of wine, shrimp, and crabmeat
  • Red beans and rice – kidney beans cooked with Cajun spices, ham, and vegetables such as bell peppers, onions, and celery, served together with white rice
  • Rice and gravy – small pieces of beef, or sometimes chicken or pork, simmered for a long time with onions, peppers, and other seasonings, and served over white rice
  • Shrimp Creole – cooked shrimp in a mixture of tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, and celery, spiced with hot pepper sauce and/or cayenne-based seasoning, and served over steamed or boiled white rice
  • Turtle soup – a thick soup made with turtle meat and Creole spices; the local species are now protected so turtle meat from other states is used; alternatively, a mock turtle soup is made with veal or other meat
  • Yaka mein – a soup of stewed beef in broth with noodles, garnished with half a hard-boiled egg and chopped green onions, with Creole seasonings

Desserts and sweets

  • Bananas Foster – a dessert made from bananas and vanilla ice cream, with a sauce made from butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, dark rum, and banana liqueur; often served as a flambé; created in 1951 by Paul Blangé at Brennan’s restaurant in New Orleans
  • Beignet – a square-shaped pastry made with deep-fried choux dough and topped with powdered suga
  • Bread pudding – a sweet dessert made from bread, milk, eggs, and sugar, often served warm and topped with whiskey sauce, rum sauce, or caramel sauce
  • Doberge cake – a cake with many thin layers, separated with dessert pudding or custard (often half chocolate and half lemon), and with a glazed outer frosting
  • Hubig’s Pies – a brand of mass-produced glazed turnovers of fried dough with various fruit fillings; the company was founded in 1922; no pies have been made since the factory was destroyed in a fire in 2012
  • Huckabuck – also known as a hucklebuck; a dessert made by taking any of various sweet, fruit-flavored drinks and freezing them in a cup; sometimes sold by street vendors
  • King cake – a cake made of braided brioche dough laced with cinnamon, with purple, green, and gold frosting, and a small plastic baby hidden inside; eaten during Mardi Gras season
  • Praline – a candy made with pecans, brown and white sugar, butter, and cream
  • Sno-ball – shaved ice with flavored syrup, served in a cup with a straw; similar to a snow cone but with ice that is more finely ground and fluffy, which absorbs the syrup better

Read more on Wikipedia Cuisine of New Orleans.

Frogmore Stew © A13ean/cc-by-sa-3.0

Frogmore Stew © A13ean/cc-by-sa-3.0

Lowcountry cuisine
Lowcountry cuisine is the cooking traditionally associated with the South Carolina Lowcountry and the Georgia coast. While it shares features with Southern cooking, its geography, economics, demographics, and culture pushed its culinary identity in a different direction from regions above the fall line. With its rich diversity of seafood from the coastal estuaries, its concentration of wealth in Charleston and Savannah, and a vibrant African cuisine influence, Lowcountry cooking has strong parallels with Creole and Cajun cuisine.

Appetizers, soups, and salads

Meat and seafood



Read more on Wikipedia Lowcountry cuisine.

Jambalaya © Cliff Hutson/cc-by-sa-4.0

Jambalaya © Cliff Hutson/cc-by-sa-4.0

Louisiana Creole cuisine
Louisiana Creole cuisine is a style of cooking which blends French, Spanish, West African, Amerindian, Haitian, German, Italian and Irish influences, as well as influences from the general cuisine of the Southern United States. Creole cuisine revolves around influences found in Louisiana from populations present in Louisiana before the sale of Louisiana to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. Louisiana sits at a crossroads for a large variety of immigrant influences. It’s widely known that Louisiana was founded by the French, thus in Louisiana Creole is placed in a French aesthetic, with an emphasis on complex sauces and slow-cooking. Later, émigrés came to New Orleans from the French and Haitian Revolutions and added further elegance and gallic influences to the cuisine.



Main dishes

Side dishes





Cooking bases
Knowing how to make a good roux is key to Cajun and Creole cooking. The technique was inherited from the French. A roux is “a mixture made from equal parts of fat and flour, used especially to make a sauce or soup thicker.” The fat and flour are cooked together on the stovetop until the mixture reaches a certain level of brownness, or darkness. Creole roux in New Orleans are known to be lighter than Cajun roux and are usually made with butter or bacon fat and flour. But certain Creole dishes use a dark roux. Dark roux are usually made with oil or bacon fat and flour. The scent of a good roux is so strong that it stays in clothes until they are washed. The scent is so widely recognized in Louisiana that others can tell if someone is making a roux, and often infer that they’re making a gumbo. The secret to making a good gumbo is pairing the roux with the protein, similar to pairing the right wine and protein.

  • Light roux: A light roux is well-suited for seafood dishes, because the roux won’t overwhelm the subtle seafood flavors. A light-colored roux doesn’t support the heavier meat flavor of meat-based gumbos. For a light roux, the flour is cooked to a light golden brown.
  • Medium roux: Medium roux are the most versatile and probably the most common among the Creole cuisine of the New Orleans area. They work well with most Creole dishes. A medium roux will turn the color of a copper penny or peanut butter. A medium roux begins to take on the warm, browned flavor widely associated with gumbo.
  • Dark roux: A dark roux, with its strong (dense) nutty flavor will completely overpower a simple seafood gumbo, but is the perfect complement to a gumbo using chicken, sausage, crawfish or alligator. Chicken will just settle into the darker flavor, while sausage and dark roux balance each other well. A dark roux is approximately the color of milk chocolate. Preparing a dark roux is complicated. It involves heating oil or fat and flour very carefully, constantly stirring for 15–45 minutes (depending on the darkness desired), until the mixture has turned quite dark and developed a rich, nutty flavor and smell. It’s very easy to burn the flour as it moves toward a darker brown, and burnt roux renders a dish unpalatable. A heavy-bottomed pot can help protect the roux from burning.
  • Stocks: Creole stocks may be more heavily seasoned than Continental counterparts, and the shellfish stock sometimes made with shrimp and crawfish heads is unique to Creole cuisine.

Food as an event
The crawfish boil is a celebratory event that involves boiling crawfish, potatoes, onions and corn in large pots over propane cookers. The crawfish boil is an event central to both Creole and Cajun cuisines. Lemons and small muslin bags containing a mixture of bay leaves, mustard seeds, cayenne pepper and other spices, commonly known as “crab boil” or “crawfish boil” are added to the water for seasoning. The results are then dumped onto large, newspaper-draped tables and in some areas covered in Creole spice blends, such as REX, Zatarain’s, Louisiana Fish Fry or Tony Chachere’s. Also, Cocktail sauce, mayonnaise and hot sauce are sometimes used. The seafood is scooped onto large trays or plates and eaten by hand. During times when crawfish are not abundant, shrimp and crabs are prepared and served in the same manner. Attendees are encouraged to “suck the head” of a crawfish by separating the abdomen of the crustacean and sucking out the abdominal fat/juices. Often, newcomers to the crawfish boil, or those unfamiliar with the traditions, are jokingly warned “not to eat the dead ones”. This comes from the common belief that when live crawfish are boiled, their tails curl beneath themselves, but when dead crawfish are boiled, their tails are straight and limp. Seafood boils with crabs and shrimp are also popular. Read more on Wikipedia Louisiana Creole cuisine.

Soul Food © - Jennifer Woodard Maderazo/cc-by-2.0

Soul Food © – Jennifer Woodard Maderazo/cc-by-2.0

Soul food
Soul food is a variety of cuisine originating in the Southeastern United States. It is common in areas with a history of slave-based plantations and has maintained popularity among the Black American and American Deep-South “cotton state” communities for centuries; it is now the most common regional cuisine in southern cities such as New Orleans (Louisiana), Charlotte (North Carolina), and Atlanta (Georgia). Soul food influences can be commonly found as far north as Richmond (Virginia) as far east as Jacksonville (Florida) and as far west as Houston (Texas). The expression “soul food” may have originated in the mid-1960s, when soul was a common word used to describe Black American culture (for example, soul music).

The term soul food became popular in the 1960s, after Alex Haley recorded Malcolm X’s life story in 1963. To Malcolm X, soul food represents both southernness and commensality. Those who had participated in the Great Migration found within soul food a reminder of the home and family they had left behind after moving to unfamiliar northern cities. Soul food restaurants were Black-owned businesses that served as neighborhood meeting places where people socialized and ate together. Early influences included African and Native American cuisine.

Southern Native American culture (Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, Seminole) is the cornerstone of southern cuisine. From their cultures came one of the main staples of the Southern diet: corn (maize) – either ground into meal or limed with an alkaline salt to make hominy, in a Native American process known as nixtamalization. Corn was used to make all kinds of dishes, from the familiar cornbread and grits, to liquors such as moonshine and whiskey (which is still important to the Southern economy). Many fruits are available in this region: blackberries, muscadines, raspberries, and many other wild berries were part of Southern Native Americans’ diets, as well

To a far greater degree than anyone realizes, several of the most important food dishes that the Native Americans of the southeastern U.S.A live on today is the “soul food” eaten by both Black and White Southerners. Hominy, for example, is still eaten: Sofkee lives on as grits; cornbread [is] used by Southern cooks; Indian fritters — variously known as “hoe cake” or “Johnny cake”; Indian boiled cornbread is present in Southern cuisine as “corn meal dumplings” and “hush puppies”; Southerners cook their beans and field peas by boiling them, as did the Native tribes; and, like the Native Americans, Southerners cured their meats and smoked it over hickory coals…
— Charles Hudson, The Southeastern Indians

Native Americans of the U.S. South also supplemented their diets with meats derived from the hunting of native game. Venison was an important meat staple due to the abundance of white-tailed deer in the area. They also hunted opossums, rabbits, and squirrels. Livestock, adopted from Europeans, in the form of cattle and hogs, were kept. When game or livestock was killed, the entire animal was used for being cleaned and cooked. Aside from the meat, it was common for them to eat organ meats such as brains, livers, and intestines. This tradition remains today in hallmark dishes like chitterlings (commonly called chit’lins), which are fried small intestines of hogs; livermush (a common dish in the Carolinas made from hog liver); and pork brains and eggs. The fat of the animals, particularly hogs, was rendered and used for cooking and frying. Many of the early European settlers in the South learned Native American cooking methods, and so cultural diffusion was set in motion for the Southern dish. Impoverished whites and blacks in the South prepared many of the same dishes stemming from the soul tradition, but styles of preparation sometimes varied. Certain techniques are popular in soul and Southern cuisines (e.g., frying meat and using all parts of the animal for consumption) are shared with ancient cultures all over the world, including China, Egypt, and Rome. Read more on Wikipedia Soul Food.

Chili with garnishes and tortilla chips © - jeffreyw/cc-by-2.0

Chili with garnishes and tortilla chips © – jeffreyw/cc-by-2.0

Tex-Mex cuisine
Tex-Mex (from Texan and Mexican) is a fusion of United States cuisine and Mexican cuisines, deriving from the culinary creations of Tejanos. It has spread from border states such as Texas and others in the Southwestern United States to the rest of the country as well as Canada. Tex-Mex is most popular in of Texas and some parts of Mexico. Tex-Mex is often conflated with the Southwestern cuisine found in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah.

Some ingredients are common in Mexican cuisine, but other ingredients not typically used in Mexico are often added. Tex-Mex cuisine is characterized by its heavy use of shredded cheese, meat (particularly beef and pork), beans, peppers and spices, in addition to flour tortillas. Dishes such as Texas-style chili con carne, nachos, hard tacos and fajitas are all Tex-Mex inventions. Moreover, Tex-Mex has imported flavors from other spicy cuisines, such as the use of cumin, introduced by Spanish immigrants to Texas from the Canary Islands and used in Berber cuisine, but used in only a few central Mexican recipes. Read more on Wikipedia Tex-Mex.

Shrimp gumbo © - jons2

Shrimp gumbo © – jons2

Cajun cuisine
Cajun cuisine is a style of cooking named for the French-speaking Acadian people deported by the British from Acadia in Canada to the Acadiana region of Louisiana. It is what could be called a rustic cuisine; locally available ingredients predominate and preparation is simple. An authentic Cajun meal is usually a three-pot affair, with one pot dedicated to the main dish, one dedicated to steamed rice, special made sausages, or some seafood dish, and the third containing whatever vegetable is plentiful or available. Shrimp and pork sausage are staple meats used in a variety of dishes. The aromatic vegetables green bell pepper (poivron), onion, and celery are called the holy trinity by Cajun chefs in Cajun and Louisiana Creole cuisines. Roughly diced and combined in cooking, the method is similar to the use of the mirepoix in traditional French cuisine which blends roughly diced onion, celery and carrot. Characteristic aromatics for the Creole version may also include parsley, bay leaf, green onions, dried cayenne pepper, and dried black pepper.

Around 1755, Acadians were forced out of their settlements by the British, and as a result, they migrated in 1755 in what was called le Grand Dérangement, eventually settling in Southern Louisiana. Due to the extreme change in climate, Acadians were unable to cook their original dishes. Soon, their former culinary traditions were lost, and so, these other meals developed to become what is now considered classic Cajun cuisine traditions (not to be confused with the more modern concept associated with Prudhomme‘s style). Up through the 20th century, the meals were not elaborate but instead, rather basic. The public’s false perception of “Cajun” cuisine was based on Prudhomme’s style of Cajun cooking, which was spicy, flavorful, and not true to the classic form of the cuisine. Cajun and Creole label have been mistaken to be the same, but the origins of Creole cooking began in New Orleans, and Cajun cooking came 40 years after the establishment of New Orleans down south on the bayou. Today, most restaurants serve dishes that consist of Cajun styles, which Paul Prudhomme dubbed “Louisiana cooking”. In home-cooking, these individual styles are still kept separate. However, there are fewer and fewer people cooking the classic Cajun dishes that would have been eaten by the original settlers.

Cooking bases
Knowing how to make a good roux is key to Cajun and Creole cooking. The technique was inherited from the French. A roux is “a mixture made from equal parts of fat and flour, used especially to make a sauce or soup thicker.” The fat and flour are cooked together on the stovetop until the mixture reaches a certain level of brownness, or darkness. Creole roux in New Orleans are known to be lighter than Cajun roux and are usually made with butter or bacon fat and flour. But certain Creole dishes use a dark roux. Dark roux are usually made with oil or bacon fat and flour. The scent of a good roux is so strong that it stays in clothes until they are washed. The scent is so widely recognized in Louisiana that others can tell if someone is making a roux, and often infer that they’re making a gumbo. The secret to making a good gumbo is pairing the roux with the protein, similar to pairing the right wine and protein.

  • Light roux: A light roux is well-suited for seafood dishes, because the roux won’t overwhelm the subtle seafood flavors. A light-colored roux doesn’t support the heavier meat flavor of meat-based gumbos. For a light roux, the flour is cooked to a light golden brown.
  • Medium roux: Medium roux are the most versatile and probably the most common among the Creole cuisine of the New Orleans area. They work well with most Creole dishes. A medium roux will turn the color of a copper penny or peanut butter. A medium roux begins to take on the warm, browned flavor widely associated with gumbo.
  • Dark roux: A dark roux, with its strong (dense) nutty flavor will completely overpower a simple seafood gumbo, but is the perfect complement to a gumbo using chicken, sausage, crawfish or alligator. Chicken will just settle into the darker flavor, while sausage and dark roux balance each other well. A dark roux is approximately the color of milk chocolate. Preparing a dark roux is complicated. It involves heating oil or fat and flour very carefully, constantly stirring for 15–45 minutes (depending on the darkness desired), until the mixture has turned quite dark and developed a rich, nutty flavor and smell. It’s very easy to burn the flour as it moves toward a darker brown, and burnt roux renders a dish unpalatable. A heavy-bottomed pot can help protect the roux from burning.
  • Stocks: Creole stocks may be more heavily seasoned than Continental counterparts, and the shellfish stock sometimes made with shrimp and crawfish heads is unique to Creole cuisine.

Cajun Dishes

  • Boudin is a type of sausage made from pork, pork liver, rice, garlic, green onions and other spices. It is widely available by the link or pound from butcher shops. Boudin is typically stuffed in a natural casing and has a softer consistency than other, better-known sausage varieties. It is usually served with side dishes such as rice dressing, maque choux or bread. Boudin balls are commonly served in southern Louisiana restaurants and are made by taking the boudin out of the case and frying it in spherical form.
  • Gumbos – High on the list of favorites of Cajun cooking are the soups called gumbos. Contrary to non-Cajun or Continental beliefs, gumbo does not mean simply “everything in the pot”. Gumbo exemplifies the influence of French, Spanish, African and Native American food cultures on Cajun cuisine. The name originally meant okra, a word brought to the region from western Africa. Okra which can be one of the principal ingredients in gumbo recipes is used as a thickening agent and for its distinct vegetable flavor. Many claim that Gumbo is a “Cajun” dish, but Gumbo was established long before the Acadian arrival. Its early existence came via the early French Creole culture In New Orleans, Louisiana, where French, Spanish and Africans frequented and also influenced by later waves of Italian, German and Irish settlers. A filé gumbo is thickened with dried sassafras leaves after the stew has finished cooking, a practice borrowed from the Choctaw Indians. The backbone of a gumbo is roux of which there are two variations: Cajun, a golden brown roux, and Creole, a dark roux, which is made of flour, toasted until well-browned, and fat or oil. The classic gumbo is made with chicken and the Cajun sausage called andouille, pronounced {ahn-doo-wee}, but the ingredients vary according to what is available.
  • Jambalaya – Another classic Cajun dish is jambalaya. The only certain thing that can be said about a jambalaya is that it contains rice, some sort of meat (such as chicken or beef), seafood (such as shrimp or crawfish) or almost anything else. Usually, however, one will find green peppers, onions, celery, tomatoes and hot chili peppers. Anything else is optional. This is also a great pre-Acadian dish, established by the Spanish in Louisiana.
  • Rice and gravy – Rice and gravy dishes are a staple of Cajun cuisine and is usually a brown gravy based on pan drippings, which are deglazed and simmered with extra seasonings and served over steamed or boiled rice. The dish is traditionally made from cheaper cuts of meat and cooked in a cast iron pot, typically for an extended time period in order to let the tough cuts of meat become tender. Beef, pork, chicken or any of a large variety of game meats are used for its preparation. Popular local varieties include hamburger steak, smothered rabbit, turkey necks, and chicken fricassee.

Food as an event

  • Crawfish boil – the crawfish boil is a celebratory event where Cajuns boil crawfish, potatoes, onions and corn in large pots over propane cookers. Lemons and small muslin bags containing a mixture of bay leaves, mustard seeds, cayenne pepper and other spices, commonly known as “crab boil” or “crawfish boil” are added to the water for seasoning. The results are then dumped onto large, newspaper-draped tables and in some areas covered in Creole / Cajun spice blends, such as REX, Zatarain’s, Louisiana Fish Fry or Tony Chachere’s. Also, Cocktail sauce, mayonnaise and hot sauce are sometimes used. The seafood is scooped onto large trays or plates and eaten by hand. During times when crawfish are not abundant, shrimp and crabs are prepared and served in the same manner. Attendees are encouraged to “suck the head” of a crawfish by separating the abdomen of the crustacean and sucking out the abdominal fat/juices. Often, newcomers to the crawfish boil or those unfamiliar with the traditions are jokingly warned “not to eat the dead ones”. This comes from the common belief that when live crawfish are boiled, their tails curl beneath themselves, but when dead crawfish are boiled, their tails are straight and limp. Seafood boils with crabs and shrimp are also popular.
  • Family Boucherie – The traditional Cajun outdoor food event hosted by a farmer in the rural areas of the Acadiana. Family and friends of the farmer gather to socialize, play games, dance, drink, and have a copious meal consisting of hog and other dishes. Men have the task of slaughtering a hog, cutting it into usable parts, and cooking the main pork dishes while women have the task of making boudin.
  • Cochon de Lait – Similar to a family boucherie, the cochon de lait is a food event that revolves around pork but does not need to be hosted by a farmer. Traditionally, a suckling pig was purchased for the event, but in modern cochon de laits, adult pigs are used. Unlike the family boucherie, a hog is not butchered by the hosts and there are generally not as many guests or activities. The host and male guests have the task of roasting the pig while female guests bring side dishes.
  • Rural Mardi Gras – The traditional Cajun Mardi Gras is a Mardi Gras celebration in rural Cajun Parishes. The tradition originated in the 18th century with the Cajuns of Louisiana, but it was abandoned in the early 20th century because of unwelcome violence associated with the event. In the early 1950s the tradition was revived in Mamou in Evangeline Parish. The event revolves around male maskers on horseback who ride into the countryside to collect food ingredients for the party later on. They entertain householders with Cajun music, dancing, and festive antics in return for the ingredients. The preferred ingredient is a live chicken in which the householder throws the chicken to allow the maskers to chase it down (symbolizing a hunt), but other ingredients include rice, sausage, vegetables, or frozen chicken. Unlike other Cajun events, men take no part in cooking the main course for the party, and women prepare the chicken and ingredients for the gumbo. Once the festivities begin, the Cajun community members eat and dance to Cajun music until midnight, as the beginning of Lent.

Other dishes and sides

Read more on Wikipedia Cajun cuisine.

Seafood dish © Elapied/cc-by-sa-2.0-fr

Seafood dish © Elapied/cc-by-sa-2.0-fr

Floribbean cuisine
Floribbean cuisine is found in varying forms in Florida restaurants and in the homes of many Floridians throughout the state. The essence of what makes a particular dish “Floribbean” is similar to that of certain other aspects of variable Floridian culture: it is influenced by visitors and immigrants from all over the world, but especially from the Caribbean (with notable influence from Haiti, the Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago), Cuba and Puerto Rico. In the case of southern Florida in particular, a subdivision called Latin-Floribbean or Hispano-Floribbean cuisine also borrows features of Latin American cuisine from such countries as Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic, adding more influences to the mix (along with the USA Common Wealth of Puerto Rico. To distinguish the Latin Caribbean style from the non-Latin Caribbean style, the terms Afro-Floribbean cuisine and Indo-Floribbean cuisine are sometimes used, as the majority of the Caribbean islands have substantial populations of African or Indian heritage, descendants of slaves or immigrants transported to the islands colonized by British, French, and Dutch settlers.

The arrival of several waves of Caribbean, Hispanic, and Asian immigrants to Florida since the late 1800s has played an important role in the development of Floribbean cuisine. The use of seafood, as well as of Asian and Caribbean ingredients and cooking methods have made Floribbean cookery generally healthier than meat- and fat-heavy cuisines. Floribbean-style cooking also incorporates an exotic spice pantry: red curry, lemongrass, ginger, and scallions are as commonly used today in Floribbean cookery as grits and cobbler are in other parts of Florida. As Floribbean cuisine evolved in South Florida it was strongly influenced by Asian culinary principles emphasizing the use of locally harvested Asian fruits and vegetables that will grow only in subtropical parts of the continental United States, where it rarely freezes. Various types of the wide variety of seafood caught off Florida’s 1350 miles of coastline are often paired with tropical fruits such as mangos, papayas, plantains, coconuts, citrus and lychees. The fusion of these flavors led to the development of this distinctive South Florida regional cuisine. Typical features of Floribbean cuisine include:

  • An emphasis on fresh ingredients
  • Complex medleys of spices, especially strong flavors offset by milder ones
  • An emphasis on seafood (Joe’s Stone Crab) and poultry
  • Generous use of fresh fruit and juices, especially citrus (Key lime pie) and sweet tropical fruits
  • Special care in presentation, seeking a more natural effect rather than an ostentatious one

Floribbean cooking often uses less spicy heat than the Caribbean dishes that inspire it, but there is extensive use of several kinds of peppers. This pungency, however, is almost always moderated by the use of mango, papaya, rum, almond, coconut, key lime, or honey. In south Floridian homes, traditional Southern foods such as coleslaw, black-eyed peas, or crab cakes are often served in the same meal as a more nuanced Floribbean dish. In most restaurants serving Floribbean cuisine, however, entire meals are planned around a succession of delicate, complex flavors and so most dishes have been altered from their traditional forms.

Floribbean barbecue
This is one of the three regional versions of barbecue in Florida, found mainly in Central Florida, of which this is the first of two styles to be influenced by Caribbean. This version of Floridian barbecue basically mixes American Deep South barbecue styles with Indo-Caribbean and Afro-Caribbean barbecue styles.

Latin-Floribbean cuisine
This mixes Floribbean cuisine with Latin American cuisine, resulting in strong Cuban, Puerto Rican, and Dominican influences. As commonly served in Florida, some dishes are variations or fusions of traditional foods from various Latin American / Hispanic countries, while others are original dishes inspired by the older cuisines. Much of this cuisine can be found in South Florida from Palm Beach County to Miami-Dade County. Below are some examples: Arroz con Pollo, White or Yellow Rice with Black Beans, Lechón, Arroz con Gandules, Tostones, Boiled Yuca, Paella, Alcapurrias and Cuban sandwiches.

Tropical barbacoa
A fusion of Floribbean barbecue and Latin-Floribbean cuisine, tropical barbacoa blends Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Jamaican, Bahamian, and American Deep South barbecue cuisines. This is another of the three regional barbecue styles in Florida, found mainly in Southern Florida, and the second of two influenced by Caribbean cuisines. This is also the only Floridian barbecue style that is also influenced by Latin American cuisine. One example of this style would be pechuga de pollo a la plancha (grilled chicken breast seasoned with citrus juice). Brazilian-style steakhouses (rodizios) also very commonly employ this barbecue style. Read more on Wikipedia Floribbean cuisine.

Burrito © - Christopher Vasquez/cc-by-2.0

Wet burrito © – Christopher Vasquez/cc-by-2.0

It comprises a fusion of recipes for things that might have been eaten by Spanish colonial settlers, cowboys, Native Americans, and Mexicans throughout the post-Columbian era; there is, however, a great diversity in this kind of cuisine throughout the Southwestern states. Southwestern cuisine is similar to Mexican cuisine but often involves larger cuts of meat, namely pork and beef, and less use of tripe, brain, and other parts not considered as desirable in the United States. As with Mexican cuisine, Southwestern cuisine is also largely known for its use of spices (particularly the chile, or Chili pepper). Recently, several chains of casual dining restaurants specializing in Southwestern cuisine have become popular in the United States. New Mexican Cuisine is known for its dedication to the chile (the official “state question” is “Red or green?” which refers to the preferred color of chiles), most notably the Hatch chile, named for the city in New Mexico where they are grown. Part of the New Mexican cuisine is smothering each dish with either red chile, green chile or both (mixing of both is referred to as “Christmas”). And the usage of pork or beef. The New Mexican Cuisine is most popular in the southwestern states of New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, and Utah. Texas has a version, Tex-Mex cuisine, while Arizona‘s style of Southwestern cuisine is often called Sonoran, since the Sonoran Desert covers a third of the state. Southwest and Tex-Mex cuisine are also present in other states such as Oklahoma, Illinois, Oregon, and Washington.

Read more on Wikipedia Cuisine of the Southwest.

Shrimp tostadas © - Ernesto Andrade/cc-by-2.0

Shrimp tostadas © – Ernesto Andrade/cc-by-2.0

California cuisine
California cuisine is a style of cuisine marked by an interest in fusion cuisine (integrating disparate cooking styles and ingredients) and in the use of freshly prepared local ingredients. The food is typically prepared with strong attention to presentation. Foods low in saturated fats and high in fresh vegetables and fruits with lean meats and seafood from the California coast often define the style. The term California cuisine arose as a result of culinary movements in the last decades and should not be confused with the traditional foods of California. French cuisine, Italian cuisine, Mexican cuisine, Chinese cuisine, and Japanese cuisine have all influenced Californian fusion cuisine, though this is by no means a complete list of influencing cultures.

One of the first proponents of using fresh, locally available foods was Helen Evans Brown, who became friends with James Beard after publishing Helen Brown’s West Coast Cookbook in 1952. She advocated using fruits and spices available in one’s own neighborhood, forgoing poor grocery store substitutes, as well as fresh seafood, caught locally. The book received wide acclaim and became the “template” for what is now thought of as California cuisine. Alice Waters, who opened Chez Panisse restaurant in 1971 in Berkeley, California, has contributed significantly to the concept of California Cuisine. Wolfgang Puck was also an early pioneer of California cuisine; starting with his work at Patrick Terrail’s Ma Maison, and further work with Ed LaDou on California-style pizza at Spago and Asian fusion at Chinois on Main. Daniel Patterson, a more modern proponent of the style, emphasizes vegetables and foraged foods while maintaining the traditional emphasis on local foods and presentation. The style was notably parodied in Bret Easton EllisAmerican Psycho.

California pizza was popularized by California Pizza Kitchen and Wolfgang Puck and has caught on as a national trend in the United States; pizzas are heavily themed, and generally include a variety of nontraditional pizza ingredients – Thai chicken pizza with peanut sauce in place of tomato sauce and crushed nuts and bean sprouts is one popular variant; so is a gourmet bacon cheeseburger-themed pizza that usually includes fruit-smoked bacon, lettuce, and a small amount of gourmet mayonnaise. Read more on Wikipedia California cuisine.

Enchiladas with rice and beans © - Jon Sullivan

Enchiladas with rice and beans © – Jon Sullivan

New Mexican cuisine
Part of the broader Southwestern cuisine, New Mexico food culture is a fusion of Spanish and Mediterranean, Mexican, Pueblo Native American, and Cowboy Chuckwagon influences. New Mexican food is not the same as Mexican and Tex-Mex foods preferred in Texas and Arizona. New Mexico is the only state with an official question—”Red or green?”—referring to the choice of red or green chile. Often dishes can be requested with both red and green chile (one side covered with green, the other with red) and is referred to as “Christmas”.

  • Albóndigas – meatballs
  • Arroz – rice, may be served as “Spanish Rice” with a tomato base, usually a mild dish, but may also be made spicy. Rice may also be served in other fashions, recipes vary
  • Arroz Dulce – sweet rice, a traditional Northern New Mexican desert, primarily popular in traditional homes, but rarely found in restaurants. Rice is generally cooked in milk and water. Then, simmered with sugar and raisins, garnished with cinnamon, and served hot
  • Atole – a thick, hot gruel made from wheat flour in New Mexico, and corn flour elsewhere
  • Biscochito – anise-flavored cookie, traditionally made with lard. It was developed by residents of New Mexico over the centuries from the first Spanish colonists of what was then known as Santa Fe de Nuevo México. Although Biscochitos may sometimes be found at any time of year, they are a traditional Christmas cookie
  • Burrito – a small-to-medium white flour tortilla, filled with fried meat, beans, green chile, or a combination of these, and rolled, it is often served smothered with green/red chile sauce and melted cheese. The California-style variant is usually much larger (often twice as large or more), includes rice, and may use colored and flavored tortillas
  • Breakfast burrito – a smaller-sized breakfast version of the above, typically including scrambled eggs, potatoes, red or green chile, cheese, and sometimes meat
  • Calabacitas – Green summer squash with onions, garlic, yellow corn, and possibly other vegetables, sauteed with butter or olive oil, and a small amount of water
  • Caldillo – a thin, green chile stew (or soup) of meat (usually beef, often pork or a mixture), potatoes, and green chiles
  • Capirotada – a bread pudding dessert, traditionally made during Lent festivities. Capirotada is made of toasted bread crumbs or fried slices of birote or bolillo bread, then soaked in a syrup made of melted sugar, or ‘piloncillo, and cinnamon. It usually contains raisins, and possibly other fruits and nut bits. Finely grated cheese may be added when it’s still hot from the oven, so that it melts. Served warm or cold
  • Carne adovada – Cubes of pork that have been marinated and cooked in red chile, garlic and oregano, often spicy
  • Carne asada – roasted or broiled meat (often flank steak), marinated
  • Chalupa – a corn tortilla, fried into a bowl shape and filled with shredded chicken or other meat or beans, and usually topped with guacamole and salsa. (Contrast with the larger and vegetable-laden California-style equivalent known as taco salads; compare with tostadas.)
  • Chicharrones – small pieces of pork rind with a thin layer of meat that are deep-fried
  • Chicharrones de cuero – strips of pork skin that are deep-fried
  • Chile – A sauce made from red or green chiles by a variety of recipes, and served hot over many (perhaps any) New Mexican dish. Chile does not use vinegar, unlike most salsas, picantes and other hot sauces. Green chile is made with chopped roasted chiles, while red chile is made with chiles dried and ground to a powder. Thickeners like flour, and various spices are often added, especially garlic and salt. Chile is one of the most definitive differences between New Mexican and other Mexican and Mexican-American cuisines (which often make a different green chile sauce from tomatillos). Mexican and Californian tend to use various specialized sauces for different dishes, while Tex-Mex leans toward the use of salsa picante and chili con carne (and even Cajun-style Louisiana hot sauce). New Mexican cuisine uses chile sauce as taco sauce, enchilada sauce, burrito sauce, etc. (though any given meal may use both red and green varieties for different dishes). A thicker version of green chile, with larger pieces of the plant, plus onions and other additions, is called green chile stew and is popular in Albuquerque-style New Mexican food; it is used the same way as green chile sauce, as a topping for virtually anything, including American dishes. The term “Christmas” is commonly used in New Mexico when both red and green chiles are used for one dish. The green chile sauce is usually hotter than its red counterpart
  • Chiles – The New Mexico chile is a local cultivar of the species, or subspecies of C. annuum. It is visually and genetically similar to Anaheim peppers, but usually hotter with a different flavor and texture. The large, flavorful New Mexican variety gives the region’s cuisine much of its distinctive style, and used so extensively that it is known simply as “chile”. Green chiles are those that are picked unripe; they are fire-roasted, then peeled before further use. Unlike the ultra-mild canned supermarket green chiles, New Mexico green chiles can range from mild to hotter than jalapeños, and come in grades of spiciness at markets that cater to chile aficionados. The climate of New Mexico tends to increase the capsaicin levels in the chile compared to other areas. Red chiles are the ripe form of the same plant (though particular strains are bred for intended use as red or green chile). Generally more piquant than green chiles, they too can be roasted, but are usually dried; they can be added whole, to spice an entire stew, or more often are ground into powder or sometimes flakes. Freshly dried red chiles are sold in string-bound bundles called ristras, which are a common decorative sight on porches and in homes and businesses throughout the Southwest. Chiles may be referred to as chile peppers, especially if the sentence requires them to be distinguished from the chile sauce made from them. The bulk of, and allegedly the best of, New Mexico chiles are grown in and around Hatch, in southern New Mexico. Chimayo in northern New Mexico is also well known for its chile peppers
  • Chile con queso – chile and melted cheese mixed together into a dip. (Not to be confused with chili con queso, which is Tex-Mex-style chili con carne stew topped with cheese); ‘chile’ and ‘chili’ are pronounced slightly differently by knowledgeable English speakers in New Mexico, especially if the difference would be semantically important; the pronunciation of ‘chile’ leans at least slightly toward the Spanish source, e.g. “cheelay”, at least when necessary.)
  • Chiles rellenos – whole green chiles stuffed, dipped in an egg batter, and fried. This dish varies from other Mexican-style cuisines in that it uses the New Mexican pepper, rather than a poblano pepper
  • Chimichanga – a small, deep-fried meat and (usually) bean burrito, also containing (or smothered with) chile sauce and cheese; popularized by the Allsup’s convenience store chain with a series of humorous commercials in the 1980s with candid footage of people attempting and failing to pronounce the name correctly. Chimichangas, like flautas and taquitos, are a fast-food adaptation of traditional dishes in a form that can be stored frozen and then quickly fried as needed; they are also rigid and easily hand-held, and thus easy to eat by people while walking or driving
  • Chorizo – spicy pork sausage, seasoned with garlic and red chile, usually used in ground or finely chopped form as a breakfast side dish or quite often as an alternative to ground beef or shredded chicken in other dishes
  • Churro – a fried-dough pastry-based snack. Churros are typically fried until they become crunchy, and may be sprinkled with sugar. The surface of a churro is ridged due to having been piped from a churrera, a syringe with a star-shaped nozzle. Churros are generally prisms in shape, and may be straight, curled or spirally twisted. Although Churros are a recent arrival from Mexico and are not a traditional New Mexican item, their popularity has increased in New Mexico
  • Cilantro – a pungent green herb (also called Mexican or Chinese parsley, the seeds of which are known as coriander) used fresh in salsas, and as a topping for virtually any dish; not common in traditional New Mexican cuisine, but one of the defining tastes of Santa Fe style
  • Cowboy bowl – Composed of boiled potatoes, black beans, scallions, green chile sauce, cheese, sour cream, and a fried egg
  • Empañadita – a little empanada; a pasty or turnover filled with sweet pumpkin, fruit, or minced meat, spices and nuts
  • Enchiladas – corn tortillas filled with chicken meat or cheese. They are either rolled, or stacked, and covered with chile sauce and cheese. The stacked version is called a flat enchilada, and is normally referred to in New Mexico as a Santa Fe-style enchilada. It is usually covered with either red or green chile sauce, and optionally topped with a fried egg. In California-style Mexican-American food, enchiladas are invariably each a discrete item; New Mexico-style enchiladas are often prepared fused together on a pan, assembled and placed in the oven, or in a casserole dish, and tend to be served in a manner reminiscent of lasagna, though the California style is becoming more common, especially in upscale restaurants geared toward those unfamiliar with the local cooking style. Flat enchiladas made with blue corn tortillas are a particularly New Mexican variation
  • Flan – a caramel custard
  • Flauta – a small, tightly rolled, fried enchilada; contrast chimichangas and taquitos
  • Frijoles – beans, pinto beans (along with chile, one of the official state vegetables)
  • Fry bread – developed by the Navajo people after the “Long Walk”, when they were forcibly relocated to Bosque Redondo, New Mexico
  • Green chile cheeseburger – widely considered the New Mexican variety of cheeseburger, it is a regular hamburger that is topped with melted cheese and either whole or chopped green chile. The flavor is very distinctively New Mexican as opposed to other types of hamburgers
  • Green chile cheese fries – a New Mexican variant to traditional cheese fries, fries served smothered with green chile sauce and topped with cheese
  • Green chile stew – similar to caldito with the use of green chile
  • Horno – an outdoor, beehive-shaped oven ubiquitous in Pueblo communities
  • Huevos rancheros – traditionally, these eggs are poached in chile. The modern dish is typically fried eggs (sunny-side up or over easy) covered with cheese or a chile salsa; often served with pinto beans
  • Jalapeño – a small, fat chile pepper, ranging from mild to painfully hot, occasionally used chopped (fresh) in salsa, sliced (pickled) on nachos, or split (fresh) and stuffed with cheese (outside of New Mexico, cream cheese is more common). Although jalapeños are common to all Mexican and Mexican-American cuisines, their use in New Mexican food tends to be lesser, in favor of green chile. Because New Mexican cultivars of the green chile approach them in piquancy, they are often used only when their distinct flavor is desired
  • Mole – Spices, almonds, red chile, tomatoes, and chocolate, often served with chicken
  • Natillas – soft custard dessert
  • Navajo Taco – a taco on Native American frybread, rather than a tortilla
  • Oregano – A flavorful herb used in many cuisines, and most closely associated with Italian food, its heavy use in American cuisine in general has supplanted the use of the unrelated but somewhat similar Mexican oregano spice in New Mexican (as well as Californian and Tex-Mex) cuisine, though some cooks prefer to use Mexican oregano, which remains easily obtainable in New Mexico
  • Panocha – Flour made from sprouted wheat or a pudding made from this flour
  • Pico de gallo – A cold salsa with thick-chopped fresh chiles, tomatoes, onions and cilantro, it does not have a tomato paste base like commercial packaged salsas, and never contains vinegar
  • Piñones – piñon (or pine) nuts, a traditional food of Native Americans in New Mexico that is harvested from the ubiquitous piñon pine tree
  • Posole – a thick stew made with hominy corn, it is simmered for hours with pork, or chicken, and chile plus other vegetables such as onions and garlic. Both red and green chile versions exist
  • Quesadilla – a grilled cheese sandwich, in which flour tortillas are used instead of bread. The Quesadilla is often lightly oiled and toasted on a griddle, to melt the cheese, then served with either salsa, pico de gallo, chile, guacamole and/or sour cream, as an appetizer or entree
  • Quince cheese – a sweet, thick, quince jelly or quince candy
  • Frijoles – usually whole pinto beans, or may be any other kind of beans, such as black beans
  • Frijoles refritos – refried beans
  • Salsa – generally an uncooked mixture of chiles/peppers, tomatoes, onions, and frequently blended or mixed with tomato paste to produce a more sauce-like texture than pico de gallo; usually contains lemon juice or vinegar in noticeable quantities (contrast chile and pico de gallo). The green chile variant usually uses cooked tomatillos instead of tomatoes or omits both, and does not use avocado (which is very common in California green salsa). The New Mexico and California styles share a typically large amount of cilantro added to the mix. The word simply means “sauce” in Spanish
  • Salsa picante – A thin, vinegary, piquant (thus its name) sauce of pureéd red peppers and tomatoes with spices, it is reminiscent of a combination of New Mexico-style chile sauce and Louisiana-style tabasco pepper sauce. (Note: American commercial food producers have appropriated the term to refer simply to spicy packaged salsa). Picante’s place in Mexican, Tex-Mex and Californian food, where it is extremely common, especially as a final condiment to add more heat, has largely been supplanted by chile, especially red chile, in New Mexican cuisine
  • Sopaipilla – a puffed, fried bread, it is eaten split or with a corner bitten off and filled with honey or sometimes honey-butter (as accompaniment in place of tortillas, or as a dessert), or sometimes stuffed with meat, beans, cheese and chile sauce. Traditionally it was (and still in the north), it is served with soups (sopa in Spanish) like posole and menudo; today, sopaipillas are sometimes found stuffed (like burritos), and are almost universally served as a dessert with honey. Prior to the depression in the 1930’s, they were served with jelly or jam, and honey was used as a substitute. However, honey with Sopaipillas retained its popularity, since then. As a rule, Sopaipillas are found only in New Mexico
  • Taco – a corn tortilla fried into a trough shape, it is filled with meats, cheese, or beans, and fresh chopped lettuce, onions, tomatoes, and cheese. The term also refers to the soft, rolled flour tortilla variety, which originated in Mexico. However, corn tortillas for tacos are always fried in New Mexican cuisine
  • Tamal – meat rolled in cornmeal dough, wrapped traditionally in corn husks (paper is sometimes wrapped around the husks in commercial versions), and steamed, it is served most often with red chile sauce. New Mexican tamales typically vary from other tamal styles in that red chile powder is almost always blended into the masa. Tamales were not traditional in Northern New Mexican cuisine
  • Taquito or taquita – a tightly rolled, deep-fried variant of the taco, in contrast to chimichangas and flautas
  • Torta de Huevo – this traditional Lenten dish is somewhat popular among observers. Recipes vary; however, egg whites are generally whipped till they peak, flour salt and yolks are added and a pancake is then made on a griddle. Red Chile is drizzled over it, and it is then served with Fideo (a vermicelli noodle), Quelites (wild spinach), and beans on Fridays during Lent. Some New Mexican restaurants offer it as their “Lenten Special.”
  • Tortilla – a flatbread made predominantly either of unbleached white wheat flour or of cornmeal. Blue corn tortillas are a quintessential New Mexico-style tortilla. New Mexico-style flour tortillas are typically thicker and less chewy than those found in, for instance, Texas or California. This results from the lower-protein, more cake-like flour commonly available in New Mexico. New Mexican expatriates who travel back to the state for visits will often bring an extra carry-on to fill with New Mexico tortillas and frozen green chile
  • Tortilla con chile – a snack consisting of a roasted New Mexico green chile on a flour tortilla, sometimes seasoned with garlic salt
  • Tostada – a corn tortilla is fried flat, and covered with meat, lettuce and cheese to make an open-faced taco

Read more on Wikipedia New Mexican cuisine.

Combination of smoked salmon wrapped in rice paper, with avocado, cucumber and crab sticks © Chensiyuan/cc-by-sa-3.0

Combination of smoked salmon wrapped in rice paper, with avocado, cucumber and crab sticks © Chensiyuan/cc-by-sa-3.0

Fusion cuisine
Fusion cuisine is cuisine that combines elements of different culinary traditions. Cuisines of this type are not categorized according to any one particular cuisine style and have played a part in innovations of many contemporary restaurant cuisines since the 1970s. Fusion food is a general term for the combination of various forms of cookery and comes in several forms. Regional fusion combines different cuisines of a region or sub-region. Asian fusion restaurants, which combine the various cuisines of different Asian countries, have become popular in many parts of the United States and United Kingdom. Often featured are East Asian, South-East Asian, and South Asian dishes alongside one another and offering dishes that are inspired combinations of such cuisines. California cuisine is considered a fusion culture, taking inspiration particularly from Italy, France, Mexico, the idea of the European delicatessen, and eastern Asia, and then creating traditional dishes from these cultures with non-traditional ingredients – such as California pizza. Other examples of this style include Tex-Mex, which combines Southwestern United States cuisine and Mexican cuisines, and Pacific rim cuisine, which combines the different cuisines of the various island nations. In the United Kingdom, Fish and Chips can be seen as an early fusion dish due to its marrying of ingredients stemming from British, French, Belgian cuisines.

In Australia, due to the increasing influx of migrants, fusion cuisine is being reinvented and is becoming increasingly the norm at numerous cafes and restaurants, with Modern Australian Asian-fusion restaurants like Tetsuya’s in Sydney ranking highly in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Another incarnation of fusion cuisine implements a more eclectic approach, which generally features original dishes that combine varieties of ingredients from various cuisines and regions. Such a restaurant might feature a wide variety of dishes inspired by a combination of various regional cuisines with new ideas. Foods in Malaysia are another popular example of fusion cuisine between Malay, Javanese, Chinese and Indian and light influences from Thai, Portuguese, Dutch, and British cuisines.

Foods based on one culture, but prepared using ingredients and flavors inherent to another culture, are also considered forms of fusion cuisine. For instance, pizza made with cheddar and pepper jack cheese, salsa, refried beans or other common taco ingredients is often marketed as “Taco Pizza”. This particular dish is a fusion of Italian and Mexican cuisines. Similar approaches have been used for fusion-sushi, such as rolling maki with different types of rice and ingredients such as curry and basmati rice, cheese and salsa with Spanish rice, or spiced ground lamb and capers rolled with Greek-style rice and grape leaves, which resembles inside-out dolmades. Some fusion cuisines have themselves become accepted as a national cuisine, as with Peruvian Nikkei cuisine, which combines Japanese spices and seasonings and Peruvian ingredients like ají (Peruvian peppers) with seafood. A quintessential Peruvian Nikkei dish is “‘Maki Acevichado’ or ceviche roll, containing Peruvian-style marinated fish rolled up with rice, avocado, or seaweed.” Read more on Wikipedia Fusion cuisine.

Pike Place Market in Seattle © Tcc8/cc-by-sa-3.0

Pike Place Market in Seattle © Tcc8/cc-by-sa-3.0

Pacific Northwest cuisine
Pacific Northwest cuisine is a North American cuisine of the states of Oregon, Washington and Alaska, as well as British Columbia and the southern Yukon. The cuisine reflects the ethnic makeup of the region, with noticeable influence from Asian and Native American traditions. Seattle‘s Pike Place Market is notable regarding this culinary style, along with Portland and Vancouver. Former restaurant critic of The New York Times Frank Bruni wrote of Seattle in June 2011, “I’m hard-pressed to think of another corner or patch of the United States where the locavore sensibilities of the moment are on such florid (and often sweetly funny) display, or where they pay richer dividends, at least if you’re a lover of fish.”

Common ingredients in the cuisine include salmon, shellfish, and other fresh seafood, game meats such as moose, elk, or caribou, wild mushrooms, berries, small fruits, potatoes, kale, and wild plants such as fiddlehead ferns and even young pushki. Smoking fish or grilling seafood on cedar planks are techniques often used in this cuisine. Since the 1980s, Northwest cuisine has begun to emphasize the use of locally produced craft beer and wine. There is generally an emphasis on fresh ingredients, simply prepared, but unlike other cuisine styles, there are various recipes for each dish, with none of them considered more or less correct than the others. This has led some food writers to question whether it truly is a “cuisine” in the traditional sense of the word.

The food of the Tlingit people, an indigenous people from Alaska, British Columbia, and the Yukon, is a central part of Tlingit culture, and the land is an abundant provider. A saying amongst the Tlingit is that “When the tide goes out the table is set.” This refers to the richness of intertidal life found on the beaches of Southeast Alaska, most of which can be harvested for food. Another saying is that “in Lingít Aaní you have to be an idiot to starve”. Since food is so easy to gather from the beaches, a person who can’t feed himself at least enough to stay alive is considered a fool, perhaps mentally incompetent or suffering from very bad luck. Though eating off the beach could provide a fairly healthy and varied diet, eating nothing but “beach food” is considered contemptible among the Tlingit, and a sign of poverty. Shamans and their families were required to abstain from all food gathered from the beach, and men might avoid eating beach food before battles or strenuous activities in the belief that it would weaken them spiritually and perhaps physically as well. Thus for both spiritual reasons as well as to add some variety to the diet, the Tlingit harvest many other resources for food besides what they easily find outside their front doors. No other food resource receives as much emphasis as salmon; however, seal and game are both close seconds. Read more on Wikipedia Pacific Northwest cuisine.

Rocky Mountain Oysters - deep fried bovine testicles © - Vincent Diamante/cc-by-sa-2.0

Rocky Mountain Oysters © – Vincent Diamante/cc-by-sa-2.0

Rocky Mountain cuisine
Rocky Mountain cuisine is a North American cuisine of Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and Montana in the United States and Alberta in Canada. Some distinguishing dishes include bison and Rocky Mountain oysters or Prairie Oysters as they are known in Canada.

The roots of Rocky Mountain Cuisine go back to the history of the Canadian Rockies. The railways brought the best of Victorian Kitchens and recreated lavish menus for their lodges. Meanwhile, mountain guides from Switzerland, Austria and Germany were learning from the native people how to cook and appreciate local foods. Learning the art of curing and smoking game and fish helped people survive the long mountain winters.

Game meats fit nicely into the popular lighter culinary style of today. As naturally lean meats, they are ideally suited for cooking quickly over the high heat of a grill or wok, stir-fried or roasted and served with a light sauce, salad and vegetables. Read more on Wikipedia Rocky Mountain cuisine.

Loco Moco with fried saimin and macaroni salad © - christian razukas/cc-by-sa-2.0

Loco Moco with fried saimin and macaroni salad © – christian razukas/cc-by-sa-2.0

Hawaiian cuisine
The cuisine of Hawaii incorporates five distinct styles of food reflecting the diverse food history of settlement and immigration in the Hawaiian Islands. In the pre-contact period of Ancient Hawaii (300 AD–1778), Polynesian voyagers brought plants and animals to the Islands. As Native Hawaiians settled the area, they fished, raised taro for poi, planted coconuts, sugarcane, sweet potatoes and yams, and cooked meat and fish in earth ovens. After first contact in 1778, European and American cuisine arrived along with missionaries and whalers, who introduced their own foods and built large sugarcane plantations. Christian missionaries brought New England cuisine while whalers introduced salted fish which eventually transformed into the side dish lomilomi salmon. As pineapple and sugarcane plantations grew, so did the demand for labor, bringing many immigrant groups to the Islands between 1850 and 1930. Immigrant workers from China, Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Portugal arrived in Hawaii, introducing their new foods and influencing the region. The introduction of new ethnic foods, such as Chinese char siu bao (manapua), Portuguese sweet bread and malasadas, and the Japanese bento, combined with the existing indigenous, European, and American foods in the plantation working environments and in the local communities. This blend of cuisines formed a “local food” style unique to Hawaii, resulting in plantation foods like the plate lunch, snacks like Spam musubi, and dishes like the loco moco. Chefs further refined the local style by inventing Hawaii Regional Cuisine in 1992, a style of cooking that makes use of locally grown ingredients to blend all of Hawaii’s historical influences together to form a new fusion cuisine.

Vegetables, fruits and nuts

  • Taro (Colocasia esculenta): A popular and ancient plant that has been harvested for at least 30,000 years by indigenous people in New Guinea. There are hundreds of varieties of taro, and the corm of the wetland variety makes the best poi, as well as taro starch or flour. The dry-land variety has a crispy texture and used for making taro chips. The smaller American variety is used for stewed dishes
  • Breadfruit
  • Candle nut or Kukui: Roasted kernels traditionally used as candles; main ingredient in the ancient Hawaiian condiment, ‘inamona
  • Coconut
  • Polynesian arrowroot or pia plant: Primary thickener. Cooked arrowroot is mixed with papaya, banana, or pumpkin in baked deserts. Haupia, a Hawaiian coconut cream pudding, uses pia as a thickener
  • Ti: After distillation technique came to Hawaii, the root of the ti was turned into liquor called ‘okolehao’
  • Winged bean
  • Jicama

The Hormel company’s canned meat product Spam has been highly popular in Hawaii for decades. Per capita, Hawaiians are the second largest consumers of Spam in the world, right behind Guam. Originally brought to Hawaii by American servicemen in their rations, Spam became an important source of protein for locals after fishing around the islands was prohibited during World War II. In 2005, Hawaiians consumed more than five million cans of Spam. Spam is used in local dishes in a variety of ways, most commonly fried and served with rice. For breakfast, fried eggs are often served with spam. Spam can also be wrapped in ti and roasted, skewered and deep fried, or stir-fried with cabbage. It is added to saimin and fried rice, mashed with tofu, or served with cold sōmen or baked macaroni and cheese. It is also used in chutney for pupus, in sandwiches with mayonnaise, or baked with guava jelly. Spam musubi, a slice of fried Spam upon a bed of rice wrapped with a strip of nori, is a popular snack in Hawaii which found its way onto island sushi menus in the 1980s.

In the 19th century, John Parker brought over Mexican cowboys to train the Hawaiians in cattle ranching. The Hawaiian cowboys of Kamuela and Kula came to be called paniolos. Cattle ranching grew rapidly for the next one hundred years. In 1960, half of the land in Hawaii was devoted to ranching for beef export, but by 1990 the number had shrunk to 25 percent. The paniolos chewed pipikaula (“beef rope”), a salted and dried beef that resembles beef jerky. Pipikaula would usually be broiled before serving. With the influence of Asian cooking, beef strips are commonly marinated in soy sauce. When beef is dried in the sun, a screened box is traditionally used to keep the meat from dust and flies. Dried meat could often be found as a relish or appetizer at a lū‘au.

Fish and seafood
Tuna is the most important fish in Hawaiian cuisine. Varieties include the skipjack tuna (aku), the yellowfin tuna (ahi), and the albacore tuna (tombo). Ahi in particular has a long history, since ancient Hawaiians used it on long ocean voyages because it is well preserved when salted and dried. A large portion of the local tuna fishery goes to Japan to be sold for sashimi. Tuna is eaten as sashimi in Hawaii as well, but is also grilled or sautéed, or made into poke. The Pacific blue marlin (kajiki) is barbecued or grilled, but should not be overcooked due to its very low fat content. The broadbill swordfish (shutome), popular and shipped all over the mainland United States, is high in fat and its steaks may be grilled, broiled, or used in stir-fries. The groupers (hapuu) are most often steamed. The red snapper (onaga) is steamed, poached, or baked. The pink snapper (opakapaka) has a higher fat, and is steamed or baked, served with a light sauce. The Wahoo (ono) is grilled or sautéed, and the dolphin fish (mahimahi) is usually cut into steaks and fried or grilled. The moonfish (opah) is used for broiling, smoking, or making sashimi. Poke is a local cuisine that originally involved preserving raw fish or other seafood such as octopus with sea salt and rubbing it (lomi) with seasonings or cutting it into small pieces. Seasonings made of seaweed, kukui nut, and sea salt were traditionally used for the Hawaiian poke. Since first contact with Western and Asian cultures, scallions, chili peppers, and soy sauce have become common additions to it. Poke is different from sashimi, since the former is usually rough-cut and piled onto a plate, and can be made with less expensive pieces of fish. During the early 1970s, poke became an appetizer to have with beer or to bring to a party. Read more on Wikipedia Cuisine of Hawaii.

Pasteles de picadillo © - Mima/cc-by-2.0

Pasteles de picadillo © – Mima/cc-by-2.0

Puerto Rican cuisine
Puerto Rican cuisine has its roots in the cooking traditions and practices of Europe (mostly Spain), Africa and the native Taínos. Starting from the latter part of the 19th century, the cuisine of Puerto Rico has been greatly influenced by the United States in the ingredients used in its preparation. Puerto Rican cuisine has transcended the boundaries of the island and also has a lot of Asian influence especially Japanese and Chinese, and can be found in several other countries.

Taino influences in Puerto Rican cuisine
From the diet of the Taíno (culturally related with the Maya and Carib peoples of Central America and the Caribbean) and Arawak people come many tropical roots and tubers (collectively called viandas) like malanga (Xanthosoma) and especially Yuca (cassava), from which thin cracker-like casabe bread is made. Ajicito or cachucha pepper, a slightly hot habanero pepper, recao/culantro (spiny leaf coriander), sarsaparilla, pimienta (allspice), achiote (annatto), peppers, ají caballero (the hottest pepper native to Puerto Rico), peanuts, guavas, pineapples, jicacos (cocoplum), quenepas (mamoncillo), lerenes (Guinea arrowroot), calabazas (West Indian pumpkin), and guanabanas (soursops) are all Taíno foods. The Taínos also grew varieties of beans and some maíz (corn/maize), but maíz was not as dominant in their cooking as it was for the peoples on the mainland of Mesoamerica. This is due to the frequent hurricanes that Puerto Rico experiences, which destroy crops of maíz, allowing more safeguarded plants like yuca conucos (hills of yuca grown together) to flourish. Maíz when used was frequently made into cornmeal and then into guanime, cornmeal mixed with mashed yautía and yuca and wrapped in corn husk or large leaves.

Spanish/European influence
Spanish / European influence is also prominent in Puerto Rican cuisine. Wheat, chickpeas (garbanzos), black pepper, onions, garlic, cilantro (using plant and seeds in cooking), basil, sugarcane, citrus fruit, grapes, eggplant, lard, chicken, beef, pork, lamb, goat and dairy all came to Borikén (Puerto Rico’s native Taino name) from Spain. The tradition of cooking complex stews and rice dishes in pots such as rice and beans are also thought to have originated in Europe (much like Italians, Spaniards, and the British). Olives, capers, and olive oil play a big part in Puerto Rican cooking, but cannot be grown under the tropical climate of the island. The island imported most of these foods from Spain along with some herbs. Early Dutch, French, Italian, and Chinese immigrants influenced not only the culture but Puerto Rican cooking as well. This great variety of traditions came together to form La Cocina Criolla.

African influence
Coconuts, coffee (brought by the Arabs and Corsos to Yauco from Kaffa, Ethiopia), orégano brujo, okra, tamarind, yams, sesame seeds, gandules (pigeon peas in English), many varieties of banana fruit, other root vegetables and Guinea hen, all came to Puerto Rico from, or at least through, Africa. African slaves also introduced the deep-frying of food.

United States influence
The on the way Puerto Ricans cook their meals came about after Puerto Rico became a territory of the United States as a result of the Treaty of Paris of 1898. The most significant influence has to do with how people fry food. The early Spaniards brought olive oil for cooking and frying, but importing it from Spain made it very expensive, and cooks on the island shifted over to lard, which could be produced locally. For 50 to 60 years, corn oil produced in the United States took the place of lard for making cuchifritos. Galletas de soda (soda crackers in tins, popularly known as export sodas from a popular brand name) are a U.S. product of the 19th and early 20th centuries that reproduce the crunchy texture of the earlier casabe bread, and can be kept crunchy in the tins in high tropical humidity. American / streaky bacon has also played a big part in Puerto Rican cuisine. It is used in rice, stewed beans, and to stuff mofongo and meats such as whole chicken and the breast. Bacon in Puerto Rico has found its way into traditional foods such as arroz con gandules and potato salad. Another meat that has found its way onto the Puerto Rican table from the U.S. is turkey (pavo), which is not native to the island but a common holiday meal next to the older lechón, roasted whole and seasoned using either pernil or adobo, often served with a side of blood sausage and ripe plantains.

Latin American influence
Other foods native to Latin America were brought to the island with the Spanish trade, such as cocoa, avocado, tomatoes, chayote, papaya, bell peppers and vanilla from Mexico and Central America. Potatoes and passion fruit were also brought over by the Spanish or Portuguese from Peru and Brazil.

Other influence
Panapén (breadfruit) was first imported into the British Caribbean colonies from the South Pacific as cheap slave food in the late 18th century. After spreading throughout the Antilles (Caribbean cuisine), panapén has also become an indispensable part of the Puerto Rican repertoire, in puddings, deep-fried tostones and making mofongo. Although Puerto Rican diets can vary greatly from day to day and residents tend to indulge in a variety of cuisines, there are some markedly similar patterns to daily meals. Commonly breakfast is simple and small, consisting of coffee and a pastry such as quesitos, a flaky puff pastry filled with a sweet cheese. Dinners almost invariably include a meat, rice and beans. This typical dinner structure leaves room for a plethora of options with choices of meat and rice preparation varying greatly. Traditionally, Puerto Ricans indulge in a wide array of nationalistic dishes as described below.

National dishes

  • Arroz con dulce – Sweet sticky rice cooked in spices, ginger, milk, coconut milk, raisins, and rum. National Christmas dessert.
  • Arroz con gandules y lechón – Yellow rice and pigeon peas with roasted pork is the national dish.
  • Asopao – Similar to gumbo, the soup is made with rice, shellfish, chicken, chorizo and other ingredients.
  • Coquíto – Coconut milk and rum eggnog. National Christmas drink.
  • Pasteles – Puerto Rican tamales. Dough made from milk, stock, green banana, squash, plantains and starch roots, filled with meat and other ingredients. National Christmas dish.
  • Piña colada – Made in 1954 at the Caribe Hilton‘s Beachcomber Bar in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The national beverage of Puerto Rico since 1978.
  • Tembleque – Coconut corn starch pudding is the national dessert.

Holy Week dishes
During Holy Week before and during Easter, people are encouraged to think more about spiritual matters and eat lightly. Rather than eat meat, they prepare dishes with fish, eggs and dairy.

  • Bacalao a la Vizcaína – Salted cod fish stew. The stew is thicker than guisadas but enough liquid to coat rice. The cod is cooked with water and milk, potatoes, raisins, olives, peppers, onions, garlic, tomato sauce, bay leaves and orégano.
  • Beverages – Drinks are milk and fruit based. Piña coladas are popular with added evaporated milk and no alcohol. Creamy guava made with sugar, vanilla, lime peels, and evaporated milk are the most consume on holy week. Ripe bananas blended with milk, cinnamon, vanilla, and sugar is prepared at homes as well.
  • Caldo Santo – A soup prepared on Easter made with salted cod fish, shrimp, red snapper, crab, coconut milk and Viandas.
  • Guanimes Con Bacalao – Cornmeal, coconut, and plantain “tamales” wrapped in plantain leaves and served with salted cod fish stew.
  • Habichuelas guisadas y viandas – Stew red beans cooked with recaíto, tomato sauce, olives, spices, carrots, squash, sweet potato, and yams.
  • Serenata de Bacalao – Salted cod fish salad. Shredded cod is tossed with dressing, cabbage, avocado, hard boil eggs, onions and a variety of boiled viandas.
  • Dulce – Most sweets include cheese and fruit on holy week. Arroz con dulce y queso – sweet rice pudding with cream cheese is becoming more recognized every year, Quesito – a puff pastry filled with cream cheese and fruit, Flan de queso y fruta – flan made with cream cheese and fruit.

Thanksgiving dishes
When Thanksgiving was first celebrated, Puerto Rico was not a part of the United States and did not recognize the holiday. After officially becoming a commonwealth, Thanksgiving was eagerly accepted by the people as their own and has become one of the most celebrated vacations (holidays) of the year. As many regions of the Continental United States have, they’ve also put their own twist on this classic American tradition. Most American dishes have been adopted for this special day. Side dishes such as cornbread, roasted yams, mashed potatoes with gravy, hard apple cider, and cranberry sauce are a part of a Puerto Rican Thanksgiving menu.

  • Arroz con Maiz y Salchichas – Yellow-rice with corn and Vienna sausage.
  • Coquito – Coconut egg-nog rum. A Thanksgiving variation of this traditional Christmas drink can be made by adding pumpkin or chocolate flavor.
  • Gandules en Escabeche – Green pigeon peas pickled in vinegar, lemon, olive oil, shallots, herbs, spices, capers, hot and sweet peppers.
  • Pasteles – In most Puerto Rican homes, the gathering for pastele making happens a week or two before Thanksgiving. Pasteles are not only prepared for Thanksgiving but enough are made to last until New Year’s, making this a timely process that is a cherished social gathering for families. Pork is the most popular pastele for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, but some make “Thanksgiving pasteles” with turkey and dried cranberries.
  • Pavochon – Popular from November to January. Roasting a turkey for Thanksgiving in the manner of lechòn (suckling pig) has been a tradition in Puerto Rico since the island became an American commonwealth and adopted the holiday. The word pavochòn is a combination of the Spanish word pavo (turkey), and the word lechòn. To make this dish truly Puerto Rican, the turkey is stuffed with mofongo with added almonds, raisins, olives, hard boiled eggs, and tomatoes. Instead of the thin slices seen in the North, a baked turkey in Puerto Rico is often cut into large blocks or chunks to be served on a plate.
  • Dulce – The fusion of American mainland and Puerto Rican food can be clearly seen in Thanksgiving desserts. Puerto Rican desserts use the same traditional ingredients as American holiday desserts including pumpkin, yams, and sweet potatoes. Classic sweets are infused with sweet Viandas. Flan de calabasas (squash flan), Tortitas de Calabaza (pumpkin tarts), Cazuela (a pie made with pumpkin, sweet potato, coconut, and sometimes carrots), Barriguitas de Vieja (deep-fried sweet pumpkin fritters made with coconut milk and spices), Cheese cake with tropical fruit, Buñuelos de Calabasas o platáno (pumpkin or sweet plantains doughnuts), and Budín de Pan y calabasas (bread pudding made from squash bread).

Christmas dishes
Puerto Rican culture can be seen and felt all year-round, but it is on its greatest display during Christmas when people celebrate the traditional aguinaldo and parrandas – Puerto Rico’s version of carol singing. Interestingly, Puerto Ricans celebrate what is probably the world’s longest Christmas. The festivities get underway on 23 November and last until the end of January when the Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián take place. Puerto Rican food is a main part of this celebration. Christmas expresses the best flavors of Puerto Rico with staple foods, textures, and tradition. Christmas food in Puerto Rico is meant to accommodate every palate.

  • Arroz con gandules – Yellow-rice-and-pigeon-pea dish. Sofríto and annatto oil plays the biggest part in flavoring and coloring rice. Alcaparrado (capers and olives stuffed with red peppers), pieces of pork, spices, bay leaves, banana leaf and broth.
  • Beverages – The official Puerto Rican Christmas drink is coquito, an eggnog-like rum and coconut milk-based homemade beverage. The holiday season is also a time that many piñas coladas are prepared, underscoring the combination of pineapples and coconuts seen in Puerto Rican cuisine. Beer is popular and Puerto Rican style rum punch with sparkling wine and fruit.
  • Chuletón – Christmas soup. A variety of beans cooked with sofríto, sazón, pork chops, pork bones, ham, smoked ham hock, salchichón, potatoes, and carrots. This soup is served on Christmas with bread and is not part or the Nochebuena (the good night) festival.
  • Escabeche de Guineo con Mollejas – Unripe, green bananas and chciken gizzards pickled in a garlicky brine.
  • Pasteles – For many Puerto Rican families, the quintessential holiday season dish is pasteles (“pies”), usually not a sweet pastry or cake, but a soft dough-like mass wrapped in a banana or plantain leaf and boiled, and in the center chopped meat, shellfish, chicken, raisins, spices, capers, olives, sofrito, and often garbanzo beans. Puerto Rican pasteles are similar in shape, size, and cooking technique to Latin American tamales. The dough in a tamal is made from cornmeal; while in a Puerto Rican pastel it is made from either green bananas or starchy tropical roots. The wrapper in a tamal is a corn shuck or a banana leaf; the wrapper in a Puerto Rican pastel is a banana leaf.
  • Lechón – Pork is central to Puerto Rican holiday cooking, especially the lechón (spit-roasted piglet). Holiday feasts might include several pork dishes, such as pernil (a baked fresh pork shoulder seasoned in adobo mojado), morcilla (a black blood sausage), and jamón con piña (ham and pineapple).
  • Ensaladas – Most Puerto Rican tables on the holidays have one or two salads. A topical salad would be potato salad with peppers, onions, mayonnaise and with or without chorizo. Macaroni salad with peppers, onions, tomatoes and can tuna or spam. The macaroni is tossed usually in mayonnaise or vinegar and olive oil. Octopus with a citrus vinaigrette and tropical fruits.
  • Dulce – Sweets are common in Puerto Rican cuisine. During the holidays, the most popular are desserts such as Arroz con dulce rice pudding made with milk, coconut milk, spices, ginger, raisins, and rum. Budín de Pan (bread pudding), Bienmesabe – little yellow cakes soaked in coconut cream, Brazo Gitano – Puerto Rican style sponge cake with cream and / or fruit filling, Buñuelos de viento – Puerto Rican wind puffs soaked in a vanilla, lemon, and sugar syrup, Natilla – (spice-milk custard), Tembleque (coconut pudding), Flan (egg custard), Flancocho – cake mix, cream cheese, caramel, and egg custard mix backed together using then flan method, Bizcocho de Ron (rum cake), Mantecaditos – Puerto Rican shortbread cookies, Polvorones – a crunchy cookie with a dusty sweet cinnamon exterior, Turrón de Ajónjolí – a toasted sesame seed bar, bound together by honey and caramelized brown sugar, Mampostiales – very thick, gooey candy bar of caramelized brown sugar and coconut chips, challenging to chew and with a strong, almost molasses-like flavor, Dulce de cassabanana – musk cucumber cooked in syrup topped with walnuts and sour cream on the side, pastelillos de guayaba (guava pastries), Besitos de Coco (coconut kisses), and Tarta de Guayaba (guava tarts).

Appetizers and fritters
Puerto Ricans have an obsession with fried food and pork. Most meals include fried appetizers, tostones being the island favorite, with rice and bean, stews, soups and other meals. Mofongo with fried pork with stews and soups. Small bit size pastelillos, empanadas or empanadillas are filled with cheese, pork, chicken or beef and can be a start to a meal. Puerto Rico has become popular for their fried food, which can be found in Cuba, Panama, Dominican Republic, and parts of the U.S.

  • Almojábana – A fritter made from rice flour, baking soda, cheese (queso blanco, cheddar, or mozzarella), Parmesan cheese, milk and egg. This mixture is used to make a dough that is fried into a ball. This frying is done mostly in the Western region of the island where I could find them on sale in stalls, cafés and festivities. Its preparation, however, is more common during the Christmas season, as an appetizer at parties, although traditionally they are eaten for breakfast by wetting them in coffee. It is also a common in the villages in the central-oeste area and the village of Lares where it is consumed daily for breakfast by many of its inhabitants. Every April, Lares hosts the Almojábana Festival, which includes a crafts fair, live music, and an agricultural fair.
  • Croquetas de panapén con bacalao – Fried salted cod fish balls mixed with mashed breadfruit, eggs, butter, roasted garlic and seasoning.
  • Macabeos – A green banana fritter. The bananas are boiled and mashed with annatto oil and a small amount of uncooked green banana. They are then filled with any meat of choice, made into small balls and deep-fried. This crescent shaped banana fritter is found mainly in the town of Trujillo Alto, which celebrates a Macabeo festival each year.
  • Mofongo – Very popular Afro-Puerto Rican dish made with fried unripe plantain and other root vegetables mashed with garlic, fried pork (chicharrón), olive oil, and broth.
  • Niños Envueltos – Boiled and fried unriped lady (finger) banana or red dwarf banana. Once the banana is boiled it is then coated with flour, baking powder, milk, sofrito, orégano and spices. The bananas are then fried until golden-brown.
  • Plátanos Maduros – Slices of deep-fried sweet plantains.

Lunch and dinner
Lunch and dinner in Puerto Rico is not particularly spicy, but sweet-sour combinations are popular. Vinegar, sour orange, and lime juice lend a sour touch while dried or fresh fruits add a sweet balance to dishes. Adobo, sofríto and annatto are used in most dishes. Fast food and diners are common for a quick lunch. Food trucks parked on the side of the street that serve sandwiches, churrasco, juices, and soft drinks. The tropical heat hasn’t stopped Puerto Ricans from enjoying a good hot soup, usually with tostones, bread, or slices of avocado on top. Some fritters, like almojábanas and yuca con mojo among others, are served with rice, beans, and meat or fish. Slow cooked recaíto and tomato-based stews are a staple in Puerto Rican cooking, served with a side of white rice, salad, and usually something fried like mofongo. Women can be seen in streets, on beaches, and sides of the roads frying a variety of fritters like alcapurrias and bacalaítos. Jucies, piña colada, hotchata and sodas can also be brought at these locations.

  • Albondigón – Puerto Rican style meatloaf made with adobo, worcestershire sauce, milk, ketchup, potatoes, red beans, breadcrumb, parsley, with a hard-boiled egg in the middle.
  • Arroz y habichuelas – Rice, invariably accompanied by beans (arroz con habichuelas) or gandules (pigeon peas), is often served as a meal by itself in cheap canteens, and is often considered a stereotype for Puerto Ricans. It’s the dish Puerto Ricans feel most nostalgic for overseas and not as bland as it sounds: kidney or pink beans are richly stewed with pork, potatoes, olives, capers, squash, recaíto, spices, broth, and tomato sauce, before being poured over the rice. Arroz junto is a one-pot yellow-rice meat and beans dish. Other rice dishes include arroz con maiz (yellow-rice cooked with corn and occasionally vienna sausage). Coconut rice with fish, arroz con pollo and arroz mamposteao (Puerto Rican fried rice). Pegao de arroz or pegao is the crusty rice left over at the bottom of the pot after cooking it has the most flavor. Pegao is usually eaten with beans and meat. Pegao with other ingredients are made to make granitos (rice and chesse fitter balls) and other fritters.
  • Bistec Encebollao – Thinly sliced and pounded steak with onions marinated in adobo mojado and lots of white wine vinegar over night.
  • Chillo frito al Mojito Isleño – A whole red snapper seasoned overnight in adobo mojado and onions. Once ready to fry the fish is pat dry then coated with all-purpose flour and plantain chips made into crumbs. The whole snapper is deep-fried and served with tostones, coconut rice, and mojito isleño.
  • Chicharrón de pollo – Chicken thighs cut in half and marinated in lemon, rum and garlic with skin still on. The chicken is then tossed in seasoned flour and deep-fried.
  • Chuleta Kan-Kan – Deep-fried or grilled pork chop with rib and skin still attached. When done it reassembles a pork chop covered in pork rinds. The skin is sliced cross wise cut to the meat. The chuleta is marinated in culantro, paprika, onion powder and other ingredients.
  • Cuajitos en salsa – Spicy pork intestines in a heavy lemon-tomato sauce base served with tostones and sorullos.
  • Empanizado or Empanado – Thinly sliced breaded and floured steak, rabbit, turkey, chicken, or veal with peppers, capers, and onions.
  • GuisadoBraised meat or fish is quite a favorite on the island. Meat or fish is seared in a pot with annatto oil. Once meat is brown on all side it is then removed. The addition of searing ham and salted pork are common. Recaíto is cooked with left over oil in pot. The meat is then put back with tomato sauce, olives, capers, potatoes, carrots, cumin, coriander seeds, pepper, bay leaves, orégano, stock or beer with water are then added. Guisados are garnished with sweet peas and poured over white rice or mofongo. Pot roast is known as carne mechada (braised beef eye round stuffed with chorizo or ham).
  • Fricasé – Hearty and spicy chicken, beef, turkey, rabbit, or goat braised in butter and olive oil with ajíes caballero, wine, raisins, bay leaves, cloves, garlic, onions, bell peppers, tomato sauce, olives, capers, peas, and carrots. Served with rice on the side and cilantro on top.
  • Quimbombó con Funche – Okra with a cheese polenta. The okra is usually soaked overnight this extracts most of its liquid. The okra is then dried and seasoned in a batter and fried or made into a stew with ham. Eather way okra is classically saved with polenta known as funche. This is popular on Puerto Rico’s sister island Vieques.
  • Pastelón – Puerto Rican version of a lasagna replacing the noodles with sweet plantains or less common cassava.
  • Picadillo a la Puertorriqueña – Puerto Rican style ground meat used in fritters but can be served with rice and on the side.
  • Sandwiches – The Cuban sandwich has been popular ever since many Cubans immigrated to Puerto Rico right after Fidel Castro. Tripleta is a lunch favorite, the sandwich is made with toasted pan de agua (water bread) a Puerto Rican bread similar to Italian bread. Mayonnaise or mustard is then spread on the bread, beef, ham, chicken, cheese, onions, tomatoes, and lectures are then added. Jíbarito a sandwich using unripe green plantains as bread. Jíbartia a sandwich using ripe sweet plantains as bread. Mixto it consists of sofrito cooked with both skirt steak and chicken topped with lettuce, tomatoes, and potato sticks with a drizzle of a mix of mayonnaise and ketchup known as mayo-ketchup. Sandwiches de Mezcla is a tea sandwich with a spread made with mayonnaise, roasted peppers, spam, American and cream cheese.
  • Sopa y asopao – Soups are typically served with bread, tostones, or a small bowl of rice. Puerto Ricos national soup is asopao, similar to gumbo. This soup is made with rice, chciken, chorizo, or seafood or all three together. Gandinga – a rich, heavy stew made from pig organs. The heart, liver and kidneys all go into the dish, along with less frightening ingredients like tomatoes sauce, capers, and recaíto. Asopao de gandules – pigeon pea soup and dumplings. Mondongo – tripe stew with chickpeas, ham, salted pork tail, calf feet, squash, and viandas. Sopa de salchichón o pollo y fideos – salami or chicken noodle soup with potatoes, corn, sofríto and other seasonings. Cream soups made with heavy cream, broth and mashed squash or any kind of mashed vianda. Caldo gallego – soup made with white bean, chicken broth, chorizo, smoked ham, turnips, kale, and potatoes. Sancocho – one of the most popular hearty stew made with a variety of meats, tubers, corn, and squash. Salmorejo – a cold garlicky tomato and crab soup served with bread. Other popular soups include, black bean soup with bacon (influence by the Cuban community in Puerto Rico), chickpea soup with or without chorizo, chicken broth soup with mofongo, and plantain soup.

The Luquillo kiosks (or kioskos) are a much loved part of Puerto Rico. Everywhere in Puerto Rico, rustic stalls displaying all kinds fritters under heat lamps or behind a glass pane. Kiosks, are a much-frequented, time-honored, and integral part to a day at the beach and the culinary culture of the island. Fresh octopus and conch salad are frequently seen. Much larger kiosks serve hamburgers, local/Caribbean fusion, Thai, Italian, Mexican and even Peruvian food. This mixing of the new cuisine and the classic Puerto Rican food. Alcoholic beverage are a big part of kiosks with most kiosks having a signature drink.

  • Alcapurrias – Fritters that are usually made with a masa mixture of eddoe (yautía) and green bananas (guineos verdes) or yuca, and are stuffed with either a meat (pino) filling or with crab, shrimp or lobster.
  • Arañitas – This get their name from their shape, a play on araña, or spider. These shredded green plantain fritters are mixed with mashed garlic, cilantro and fried.
  • Arepas or Yaniclecas (from Johnnycake) – The flour flatbread distinct from Puerto Rico. Arepas are usually stuffed with meat, seafood, cheese, rolled or sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar.
  • Bacalaítos – Bacalaítos are the codfish fritters from Puerto Rico. Other types of codfish fritters are common throughout the Latin Caribbean world and Spain. They’re a staple food at many kioskitos.
  • Cuchifrito – Is about as simple a dish. Essentially, slice off a chunk of pork (the ear, the stomach, or the tail), cover it in batter, and deep-fry.
  • Empanadilla and pastelillo – Deep-fried turnovers filled with meat, seafood, vegetables, cheese, or fruit paste.
  • Papa rellena – A popular Peruvian potato balls fritter stuffed with meat.
  • Piononos – Piononos are mashed sweet plantain patties filled with picadillo, or seasoned ground beef, and cheese.
  • Sorullos – The cornmeal equivalent of mozzarella sticks, except that they’re rather fatter and shorter. They’re often made with cheese.
  • Taco – These are not the traditional Mexican tacos. Puerto Rican tacos can be described as a cylindrical empanadilla. It is the same dough, stuffed with beef, rolled-up and fried. In some kiosks there were also one filled with a cheese dog, although it is not a traditional Puerto Rican option.

Puerto Rican food outside the archipelago

  • Cuchifritos – In New York, cuchifritos are quite popular. Cuchifritos, often known as “Puerto Rican soul food” includes a variety of dishes, including, but not limited to: morcilla (blood sausage), chicharron (fried pork skin), patitas (pork feet), masitas (fried porkmeat), and various other parts of the pig prepared in different ways.
  • Jibarito (Plaintain Sandwich) – In Chicago, El Jibarito is a popular dish. The word jíbaro in Puerto Rico means a man from the countryside, especially a small landowner or humble farmer from far up in the mountains. Jíbaro is a term strongly associated with preserving the traditional values and the culture of the island. Typically served with Spanish rice, Jibaritos consist of a meat along with mayonnaise, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and onions, all sandwiched between a fried plantain, known as a canoa (canoe). In the early 20th century, bread made from wheat (which would have to be imported) was expensive out in the mountain towns of the Cordillera Central, and jíbaros were made from plantains which are still grown there on the steep hillsides. Jibaritos are very similar to the stuffed patacones from Venezuela.

Read more on Wikipedia Puerto Rican cuisine.

Read more on Wikivoyage Fast food in the United States and Canada, Wikipedia List of American foods, 22 Maps That Shows You The Most Delicious Dishes Around The World and Wikipedia Cuisine of the United States (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.

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