There are many characteristics that combine to make the United States a fascinating and diverse country. One of the most fun, exciting and interesting is its various unique foods. Although we all pledge allegiance to the flag and revere the same founding fathers and mothers, what we eat can vary in distinctive ways according to the part of the country where we live. Although there are numerous examples, a few of the major ones illustrate the point.
NEW ENGLAND CLAM CHOWDER
The sandy beaches along the Atlantic coast are the perfect environment for catching clams, and the people of Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island have capitalized on this fact. In addition to some of the world’s best lobsters, this area is known for its creamy version of chowder that is packed with fresh clam meat and potatoes.
The city of brotherly love is not where pretzels were invented; Europeans have been enjoying them for centuries. In fact, it was probably German settlers who brought these soft, salty dough creations to the New World. However, Philadelphia has made pretzels their own, and no visit to this historic city would be complete without buying a fresh soft pretzel from a street vendor and slathering it with spicy mustard.
WISCONSIN CHEESE CURDS
These dairy bombs are often beer battered and deep fried to bring out their tangy flavor. They’re a staple of any Upper Midwest gathering worth its salt and are even served by fast food chains.
Chili is one of those dishes that can be made in any number of ways. However, the city of Cincinnati can boast a particularly unique take. Cincinnati chili combines Mediterranean spices such as cinnamon, allspice, clove, bay leaf, cumin and chili powder with tomato paste, ground meat and broth or water to make a sauce. This mixture can then be poured over spaghetti or hot dogs. Throughout this Ohio city, there are restaurants known as chili parlors that each have their own take on this regional specialty.
This cereal is frequently served as part of a full Southern breakfast. South Carolina fishermen augmented it with shrimp for an even more succulent morning repast. With a little added butter or some savory pork drippings, grits are a wake-up option that is savory, if not totally health-promoting.
SOUTHERN FRIED CHICKEN
The home cooks of Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi and Kentucky do fried chicken better than virtually anyone else in the world. Flavorful, moist and delicious, this chicken is worth taking a trip to try.
OKLAHOMA CHICKEN-FRIED STEAK
Contrary to its name, this dish contains absolutely no chicken whatsoever. What you will find is a tasty piece of beef that is breaded and fried in a way that only cooks in and around Oklahoma can totally pull off.
Because its people come from every part of the world, the United States is called a melting pot. The foods we make and eat also show off the unique national and regional cultures that combine to make this nation unique. No matter where you live, there is sure to be a local dish to celebrate.