Iconic American Foods

I love to eat. I love to eat well.
I love America. One thing I have always shrived to do when driving distances is finding a mom-and-pop diner or even just a hole in the wall place to eat, instead of a Burger King. The best Pot Roast I have ever had did not come from my mom’s kitchen, or any relative, but a dirty spoon somewhere in Georgia that I couldn’t find if my life depended on it and I had a platoon of Army Scouts helping me.

So when USA Today put out a list of

BEST ICONIC AMERICAN FOODS

I got all kinds of excited. I was hoping this could fill in the blanks for some road eating.
Note: I take this to mean, if you want good (insert food) you gotta goto (insert city)

So grab a sheet of paper (or open notepad, you lazy Gen-Xers) and list me the cities you think of and its Iconic food.

I asked my wife to do that as we drove back from a family reunion, as well as my oldest daughter. My statement was think of a food and place that just fit together as the best you get- like New Orleans and Crawfish.Crawfish

The wife first mentioned that Beignets as what should have been New Orleans. I disagree and would go with Gumbo, but of course, crawfish is acceptable.

The wife did come up with Brooklyn pizza, and Philly Cheesesteak, two foods you HAVE to think of when you think Iconic American Food and the city it goes with.
The daughter also said Philly, but had a hard time on the Hotdogs- deciding to move them to Chicago so Pizza could go with New York. She also thinks Gumbo over Crawfish for New Orleans.

Here is my list:

Since they listed 2 states, I guess that’s ok.

Carolina BBQ
Maine Lobster
Alaskan King Crab
Milwaukee Bratwurst

For cities?King Crab

Memphis BBQ
Kansas City Steak (on my personal bucket list)
NY Pizza
Boston Clam Chowder.
Chicago Pizza
New Orleans Gumbo

Now you do have Natchitoches meat pies and Zwolle Tomalles, I can see the Meat Pies since I’ve seen them miles from the city but Zwolle might be a little too local.

That’s about all I got. I’m sure there’s some Fish Taco city, and a half dozen others I can’t think of.

How does that go with your list?

Ok, let me do the next step a little different, let me give you the City, and then maybe you will get the food. I’m gonna give you a hard one in alphabetical order.

Albuquerque.

Done?

Green Chile Sauce. I have never heard anyone say we need to go to New Mexico for this dish. Maybe that’s just me.

Atlanta.

Does the ATL have a signature dish?

Southern Fried Chicken.

I guess that they had to put Fried Chicken in the South, a place I have lived in for over 40 years- but I have never EVER heard someone say you want good chicken, you gotta go to Atlanta!

Baltimore.

Ready,

Maryland crabs.

Ok, Boston is not on the list of cities, so I can give them this one.

Charleston SC

Now keep in mind, I am a native (North) Carolinian, but I’ve never heard of Charleston as a foodie target.

Shrimp and Grits.

FOUL! Grits is iconic to the south, but in 40 years I have NEVER, EVER heard of someone eating Shrimp and Grits outside of a TV show.Shrimp and Grits

Chicago

I’ll give you my next paycheck if you get this “right”.

Or better yet, a job writing about food on this very site.

Ready?

Not Pizza- Italian Beef Sandwiches.

Yeah, I’m pretty comfortable saying I’m keeping my check this week. Italian Beef? Really? When you think Chicago food?

Cincinnati

Other than its not Cleveland, has anyone heard the phrase “We gotta get to Cincy”?

Cincinnati Chili

Ok, this is the ONLY one of the 20 that has to rename to dish after saying what it is. You don’t say New Orleans for the New Orleans Shrimp. When I think Chili, I think Texas- San Antonio? I’ve never heard of massive goodness that is chili in a place that snows, EVER.

Dallas.

Ready?

Steak.

I can see this. I do eventually plan on getting to Dallas for my 40th, sometime before I turn 50, but still, isn’t Kansas City the place you think of for Steak?

Honolulu

Gotta be some Coconut and/or Pineapple dish right?

Poi

Ok.

Indianapolis.

You got me. Never heard of any food for Indy.

Pork Tenderloin sandwiches.

Of all the places I think Pork, Indy is NOT it.

Kansas City

This is like New York, hard to figure out between the two right?

BBQ
No Problem there. Gotta be Steaks or BBQ here right?

Kentucky.

WTF is this?
WTF is this?

My wife and daughter immediately went Fried Chicken! Not Atlanta- Kentucky should have gotten that one. Kentucky is part of the South, in case you didn’t know.

Burgoo

OK, I lived in Kentucky for 7 months, not only have I never eaten this – I never heard of it. Anyone?
Kentucky should be up here for Whiskey, or is Burgoo USATodian for Oak Barrel?

Key West.

Think on it.

Key Lime Pie.

No issues.

Memphis.

If you miss this, you are either on a diet, or just wrong.

BBQ.
Let me give an aside- I don’t get into the whole 3 ways to Q. I’ve had great great Q made all 3 ways, and shit Q made all 3 ways. I’m from Carolina, and I do like vinegar, but as long as you don’t try and put slaw on my Q, we won’t have a problem OK?

New Orleans.

Crawfish- I will also take Shrimp, Gumbo, Jubalaya and Benites.

New YorkPastrami

Ok, we got another toss up, gun to your head- what do you take?

Pastrami

POW- dead man walking! I can see this, but isn’t it the Chris Bosh to the Pizza and the Hot Dog?

Philadelphia

Not cream cheese, I could even live with the pretzel, but hell no- its the Philly Cheese Steak.

Portland

Uh, ok. I gotta go to Portland for what?

Wild Salmon.

Never heard of Portland being the place you gotta go for Wild Salmon. But maybe that’s me.

San Francisco

Got to be Rice A Roni, right?

Wrong- Ciappino
Ok, what the hell is this shit? Never heard of it- maybe its tofu or something.

Seattle

Coffee?

Ok, its Dungeness crab, and I’m ok with that. I can see the whole NW crab thing as well.

WisconsinCheese Curds

Gotta be a dairy product, right? Is that enough of a sterotype? I mean I went Milwaukee for the Brats- but why say Wisconsin?

Fried Cheese Curds.

Ok, never thought that, but has anyone ever said we gotta goto Milwaukee for cheese curds? Someone get Dan Vachalek (Lower Canadian Native) on the line!

So how many of the 20 did you get with the name of the city?

The wife and kid got Memphis, KC and Philly.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I gotta google WTF Burgoo and Ciappino are.

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About David Snipes 1383 Articles
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3 Comments

  1. It’s been about 20 years so things may have changed but some of the best fried chicken I ever had was in Mary Mac’s Tea Room in…. Atlanta.
    And Kentucky is bourbon. Oh, bourbon’s not a food?

  2. And, now that I think about it,shouldn’t the food associated with Atlanta be a peach pie???? Or at least soemthing with peaches, no? I assume we leave out Richards “Triple Peach” and Boones Farms “Sun Peak Peach”.

  3. I’m not surprised at pastrami and New York. I’m not a fan of deli food but there are some damn good deli’s here that makes some good looking (and tasting) pastrami sandwiches.

    However, for me it’s far and away pizza. Give me a slice any damn day.

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