USA’s cultural patchwork is evidenced in its variety of food and approaches to traditional dishes: from Italian classics to African ways to cook, without missing out on the Mexican and Native American influence, each region has a menu that makes it stand out. Which recipes are best known in each area? Here, we propose a guide.
From Coast to Coast: The Diversity of Regional Dishes in the USA
From New England’s famous seafood-based recipes to the wide-scoped Nashville food tour at Secret Food Tours, the USA has a mixture of cultures and flavors that will awe its visitors.
Seafood-y New England
Located on the Atlantic coast and integrated by states such as Rhode Island, Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, this region is characterized by its seafood cuisine, with examples that include:
- Clam Chowder: as the name suggests, clams mixed with tomatoes, potatoes, and onions make a soup. You can choose between three styles: the New England style is milk or cream-based and has a white appearance; the Manhattan style is red due to using more tomatoes, and the Rhode Island style is clear, for it stays out of both tendencies.
- Fluffernutter: it may seem like a traditional sandwich, but, in this case, the two slices of white bread are filled with peanut butter and marshmallow fluff. Sometimes, bananas are added to the mix.
- Lobster roll: you take the traditional hot dog bun but replace the sausage with lobster. Then, you can top it with lemon juice, butter, mayonnaise, black pepper, or scallions.
This area contains famous names, such as New York and New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and the District of Columbia (Washington D. C.). Some of its most renowned recipes are:
- Buffalo Wings: New York is well-known for its diverse culinary roots (due to the various immigrant communities that inhabit the city) and for twisting classic, beloved dishes. That is the case with these chicken wings, which are unread, deep-fried, and covered with a hot sauce that includes cayenne pepper, butter, and vinegar. They are usually accompanied by bleu cheese, ranch dressing, carrots, or celery, used for dipping.
- Spiedie: this Italian or white-bread sandwich includes marinated cubes of chicken, lamb, pork, or beef. It is mainly associated with New York.
- Bagels: this dish is already a part of American popular culture, and it is known worldwide for its donut-like bread (sometimes baked with honey) filled with a mixture of lox, cream cheese, red onion, and tomato.
The Southern Charm
A vast region (yet compulsory in any Nashville food tour) that goes from Louisiana to Virginia, it covers states such as Kentucky, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, North and South Carolina, Arkansas, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama, among others.
Due to its enormous extension, its cuisine has a lot of influences. Nevertheless, its Historical roots establish strong connections with African cuisine (Gullah Geechee is essential). It also has some Cajun and Creole recipes, derived from the French influence in the zone, that are characterized by its use of bell peppers, onions, and spices.
The mixture of cultures in a single dish can also take the name of Floribbean food if the tastes implicated come from Hispanic, Caribbean, and Asian backgrounds. This list includes best-loved treats, like key lime pie, palm salad (or swamp cabbage), and grits.
Some local classics are:
- Shrimp Boil: also known as Lowcountry boil or Frogmore stew, includes potatoes, seafood, and sausage in one boiled mix.
- Corn cake is one of the recipes that is strongly influenced by Gullah Geeche cuisine. These cornmeal cakes are fried in oil and include corn, onion, and celery.
- Chicken Pilau: you can also find it as a chicken bog, a simple yet well-known stew made from sausage, rice, and chicken.
You are thinking about the Midwest if you think about states like North and South Dakota, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Kansas, Nebraska, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Missouri. When it comes to cuisine, this includes menus such as:
- Toasted Ravioli: following the American tradition of giving new twists to the many culinary influences around the country, this dish takes the well-known, Italian-originated ravioli but prepares it deep-fried.
- Buckeyes: primarily associated with Ohio, this classic sweet treat consists of a round-shaped core of peanut butter dipped in chocolate.
While we have referred to the Southern region, this area is located slightly to the west. It includes names such as Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas, and it is characterized by its proximity to Mexican culture, which influences the local cuisine. Here some well-known local plates are:
- Chili: where American cattle meet Mexico’s spicy flavors and where meat meets chili, this tender, aromatic, and tasty dish is one national classic.
- Fry Bread is a taste of Navajo culture whose origins trace back to the 1800s. This spongy dough is served warm and is usually topped with sugar and honey.
All-Meat Rocky Mountain
Towards the country’s west, this region comprises Idaho, Colorado, Montana, Utah, Wyoming and Nevada. If you thought you knew meat, then the menus you can find here will alter everything you know, for it includes tastes like elk, bison, or venison, as well as examples like:
- Bison Burgers: As you may have guessed, they are well-known hamburgers made out of bison, which is lower in fat yet juicy.
- Rocky Mountain Oysters: despite the name, this dish consists of fried bull or bison testicles, often topped with lemon juice.
This coastal region is known for its warm weather and abundant seafood from Washington to California. It encompasses renowned states, such as Washington, California, and Oregon, and recipes like:
- Fish Tacos: Usually filled with flounder or cod, fish tacos can come fried, grilled, or blackened, and you can choose to complete them with a wide variety of toppings.
- Cedar Planked Salmon: when cooking on a wood plank, the smoked scent of the wood sticks to the food and gives the unique taste that this traditional dish presents.
No matter whether it is salty or sweet, big or small, seafood or meat, mild or spicy, The American landscape has a taste to offer to each palate. Start your journey today!