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April 14, 2011 11:26 AM   Subscribe

American cooking : If someone from Europe was your guest, someone with a sweet tooth, and you really wanted to treat that person to a special dish representing a genuine sample of your State's cooking, what would it be ?

This is part of an Esl project, about American culture & Geography. So I'm mostly interested by food that's appealing to teenagers (or whoever likes sugary diets btw). Desserts of course, but also what you're eating at breakfast. Not necessarily elaborate, just genuine, traditional or not... If you can provide links to recipes, significant anecdotes, origins of the recipes, etc... it would be just great.
posted by nicolin to Society & Culture (79 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
Here in St. Louis many people would probably make a gooey butter cake. As a bonus, it can be served either a dessert or as a coffee cake for breakfast.
posted by jedicus at 11:31 AM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm from Georgia, so I'd go with peach cobbler. It's super easy to make, sweet, and can satisfy for breakfast too. You can make it fully from scratch, but the one I grew up eating from my granny was based on canned ingredients.
posted by bizzyb at 11:31 AM on April 14, 2011


Boston Baked Beans & Boston Creme Pie served with Cape Codders and Boston Lettuce.

Oh, and for breakfast, Cap'n Crunch because the good Cap'n knows no boundaries or state lines. He represents the Universal Good - especially with whole milk.
posted by Rewind at 11:31 AM on April 14, 2011


Maybe more Southern than state specific, but banana pudding with 'Nilla Wafers in it, pecan pie, or peach/blackberry cobbler.
posted by cmoj at 11:32 AM on April 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Also from the southern states, I think of Key Lime Pie and Pecan Pie.

Also good for breakfast would be pancakes or waffles covered in tons of maple syrup.
posted by motsque at 11:34 AM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Soft serve ice cream was invented in Illinois (Dairy Queen).

Malts were invented by Walgreens in Illinois as well.

The problem with both of these is that they became ubiquitous.
posted by michaelh at 11:35 AM on April 14, 2011


From Maryland, Smith Island Cake, which features from 8 to 15 layers.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 11:35 AM on April 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


I grew up in rural Arizona and Montana, and all our sweet treats were very much in the vein of kid- and man-pleasing recipes most likely borrowed from someone at the local women's club, or the back of a bisquick box -- things that transport easily and can be stored for a long time, like Rice Krispie Treats. Here's a classic recipe that reflects this culture.

Chocolate / Peanut Butter / Oatmeal Cookies (No-Bake)

Mix the following in a large sauce pan (at least a 2 quart size).

1 cube margarine or butter (1/2 cup)
2 cups sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
1/2 cup milk

Cook at a rolling boil for one minute. A rolling boil is one that you
can't stir down.

Stir in:

1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup peanut butter
3 cups minute oats

Drop by the teaspoonful when cool. A sheet of wax paper makes a good
surface on which to drop the cookies. Don't wait too long to drop the
cookies or they will be difficult to drop. The one minute of rolling
boil is very important to the consistence of the cookie.
posted by hermitosis at 11:36 AM on April 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


If it's summer in Maine, then we're having blueberry muffins or blueberry pie or blueberry pancakes, made with wild blueberries that we picked ourselves. I might tell my guest how the larger farms pick blueberries with a rake. (If pancakes, we'll also have homemade maple syrup and I'll explain the wonders of sugar maples.)

If it's not summer, then we might have needhams made with real mashed potatoes.
posted by Orinda at 11:37 AM on April 14, 2011


Black and White cookie (NY)
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:37 AM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's Its are ice cream sandwiches made with oatmeal cookies and covered with chocolate. They're impossible to find outside of Northern California, but pretty well-known to those of us who grew up there. This is a product rather than a homemade recipe, but what could be more American than that?
posted by theodolite at 11:37 AM on April 14, 2011 [8 favorites]


Pecan pie for Texas. The pecan is our state tree.
posted by Houstonian at 11:37 AM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


jedicus: "Here in St. Louis many people would probably make a gooey butter cake. As a bonus, it can be served either a dessert or as a coffee cake for breakfast"

Followup to this, the British co-workers I entertained really loved "rocky road" candy - basically giant lumps of marshmallow and peanuts covered in chocolate. I've been told it's only a St. Louis thing, but dunno.
posted by notsnot at 11:38 AM on April 14, 2011


...And I associate huckleberry desserts (ice cream, syrup, etc.) with Montana
posted by notsnot at 11:40 AM on April 14, 2011


In Pennsylvania, you could do:
Banana Splits (invented in PA)
Whoopie Pies/Gobs
Funnel Cakes
Shoofly Pie
Pretty much anything Amish/PA Dutch
posted by specialagentwebb at 11:40 AM on April 14, 2011


Massachusetts: Hot Indian Pudding with vanilla ice cream. Yum!

Recipe.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 11:41 AM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


French toast made with challah bread, real maple syrup, confectioners sugar sprinkled on top and maybe some strawberries--yes!
posted by emhutchinson at 11:42 AM on April 14, 2011


Fried Dough with powdered sugar for New England, though there are variations of it all over the place (funnel cakes, beignets, etc).
posted by Greg Nog at 11:43 AM on April 14, 2011


Do they HAVE rice krispie treats in Europe? Those are awesome teenager food.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:43 AM on April 14, 2011


Malts & Soft Serve for IL are both good. I'm going to get a little more specific and say a Blizzard or a Dilly Bar.
posted by Lieber Frau at 11:43 AM on April 14, 2011


I'm from Wisconsin, and I associate kringle and frozen custard with home.
posted by desjardins at 11:43 AM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


North-central-midwesternish: Rhubarb pie. Or any desert made with rhubarb, for that matter.
posted by leapfrog at 11:44 AM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pecan pie, for Texas, for sure.

Actually, in an episode of Star Trek Voyager (shut up) Captain Janeway is trying to sort of gladhand some Delta quadrant ambassador and she gives him a piece of one of Earth's finest delicacies - Pecan pie. The guy tales a bite and says, "Pecanpeye!". You've got acknowledge Janeway's thinking here - Pecan pie isn't just good - it's the best dessert planet Earth can offer.
posted by dirtdirt at 11:44 AM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


NW MN: I'd say Lumberjack - Leftover wild rice, sugar, cinnamon, cream.
NE MN: Potica
posted by unixrat at 11:45 AM on April 14, 2011


With respect to the general PA answer above...water ice (Philadelphia).
posted by Pax at 11:46 AM on April 14, 2011


To eat authentic Alaskan dessert, eat Agutuk (also Akutaq) also known as Eskimo Ice Cream

1lb boiled, shredded halibut (or other white fish if you don’t regularly go halibut fishing in Homer, AK)
3 pounds Crisco shortening
1 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup sugar
1 gallon of wild hand-picked berries from the arctic (or from your freezer section if you don’t live in Alaska)

Combine the shortening, oil, and sugar and whip into an exotic frenzy. Mix in the fish and berries and wear a parka while eating for authenticity.

There are a million different recipes for this actually, depending on the game that is most available in your geographical region. Here in the interior, it would most likely be made with caribou fat.
posted by madred at 11:46 AM on April 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's Its are ice cream sandwiches made with oatmeal cookies and covered with chocolate. They're impossible to find outside of Northern California, but pretty well-known to those of us who grew up there.

YES. Every time I go to a gas station, I'm like "Man, I really want an It's Its" (because that's where we bought ours), and my friends/spouse are like, "You are crazy, those don't exist."
posted by muddgirl at 11:46 AM on April 14, 2011


Churros?

Here in Northern California we ate (eat) a lot of pineapple upside down cake when I was a kid. Spumoni. (Blech- but there was a lot of it around San Francisco). And ice cream, ice cream, ice cream. Including spumoni. And ice cream sandwiches a la It's It. (They're too sweet these days- they're making the cookies out of something different.)

The bakeries that I remember were all very old world Italian. I have wondered if San Francisco has Italian recipes that have long since disappeared in Italy.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:50 AM on April 14, 2011


And lots of blackberry and apple pies, crumbles and crisps.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:51 AM on April 14, 2011


Heck yeah peach cobbler!
posted by soma lkzx at 11:55 AM on April 14, 2011


I live in Ohio and our state sweet is the Buckeye. I personally don't like them, though, so I wouldn't serve them. I'd probably make salted caramel ice cream and apple pie from scratch. Or a chocolate cake with Nutella frosting. Or maybe strawberries with balsamic vinegar, turbinado sugar, and unsweetened whipped cream. Or, if I was feeling particularly close to my mother's Southern roots, I'd make a chocolate pie. Mmmmmm, chocolate pie.
posted by cooker girl at 11:57 AM on April 14, 2011


From my Providence (Rhode Island) roots:
Coffee Milk
posted by stagewhisper at 11:59 AM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Where I grew up: Special Dish = Dunkin Donuts.

Also frappes, fluffernutters, fried dough (I think they call it other things outside of New England), cranberry juice... Boston Creme donuts and Pie... Hoodsies (which suck as an adult, I finally realized)

Where I am now: No idea. Pecan Pies? Pork rinds? Those nut log things? Moonshine? Whatever is on sale at Walmart?
posted by KogeLiz at 12:02 PM on April 14, 2011


Also, you probably already did a google search and found this but I'll post it anyway just in case.
posted by stagewhisper at 12:03 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Were I still in Arkansas I'd probably serve a fruit cobbler, likely made with berries. Alternatively, a berry pie.

Fried Dough with powdered sugar for New England, though there are variations of it all over the place (funnel cakes, beignets, etc).

Indeed, fried dough can be found all over the world.
posted by jedicus at 12:03 PM on April 14, 2011


Other Alaskan dessert and breakfast items:

- Sourdough hotcakes and homemade fruit (berry) syrups.
- Blueberry and rhubard pies, crumbles and cobblers.
posted by charmcityblues at 12:06 PM on April 14, 2011


Louisiana has pralines, beignets, moon pies, and iced coffee.
posted by jander03 at 12:07 PM on April 14, 2011


I had some awesome brandy sauces in Louisiana. On bread pudding, I think.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:19 PM on April 14, 2011


From Minnesota: Glorified Rice
posted by chazlarson at 12:20 PM on April 14, 2011


From Vermont, maple sugar candy. (Sugar on snow is a bit complicated to explain, apple pie with cheddar cheese on the side doesn't seem all that exotic for Europe.)
posted by maryr at 12:23 PM on April 14, 2011


Root beer floats. And soft serve half & half cones dipped in chocolate from Foster's Freeze. And another vote for It's It's. All were a requirement for hot Central Valley summers.
posted by shinyshiny at 12:25 PM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


PS: If you're willing to go into the explaination, Sugar on Snow from Serious Eats (and Alton Brown went to NECI!)
posted by maryr at 12:25 PM on April 14, 2011


The last time there was a state foods question on MeFi, I collated the responses.
posted by zamboni at 12:34 PM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Red Velvet Cake! (With cream cheese frosting. Some Southerners use boiled frosting. Do not listen to them, they are barbarians.)
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:35 PM on April 14, 2011


Snow ball - Maryland
Shave ice - Hawaii
Paletas - areas that border Mexico
Salt water taffy - beach areas of the northern east coast
Italian ice - urban areas especially New York

New England:
Maple sugar candy - Vermont and other areas in the northeast
Milkshakes are called "frappes" (pronounced "fraps") in much of New England, and "cabinets" in Rhode Island (historically, less so now).
New England loves ice cream, and every small town has its own local homemade ice cream place. (these are diminishing today) - flavors include peppermint stick, rocky road, etc.
Mashmallow fluff, used to make fluffernutter sandwiches (marshmallow fluff plus peanut butter).
Whoopie pie
Boston cream pie and donuts that have chocolate frosting and vanilla creme filling are called "Boston cremes".
Historical: Hasty pudding, and Indian pudding (mentioned in the song Yankee Doodle)
The real answer from New England is FRUIT PIE - especially one of the million down-home apple desserts: pie, cobbler, crisp, brown betty, dumpling, turnover. Pumpkin pie in late fall, blueberry pie (or cobbler or crisp) in summer, rhubarb pie (or cobbler or crisp; sometimes strawberry-rhubarb) in late spring, early summer.
Common New England ingredients: apples, molasses, maple syrup, ice cream

Other traditional US confections often seen at fairs and carnivals: candy apples, caramel corn/kettle corn/Cracker Jacks (connected especially to baseball parks, you could have them sing Take me out to the ballgame), cotton candy

Common to potlucks or church suppers, maybe more in the midwest - ambrosia salad,

Baked Alaska (though it's not a dessert from Alaska); King cake (New Orleans); pralines (south); pecan pie (south); peach melba (Georgia is famous for its peaches); bananas Foster (New Orleans); S'mores (camping trips nationwide)

Someone pointed out in a previous thread on the difference between Asian desserts and western desserts, that the western palate expects desserts to have vanilla, dairy, and flavors like cinnamon; Asian desserts don't feature these and it throws off western eaters.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:35 PM on April 14, 2011


So far, just great. Stagewhisper : I didn't find what you link to, for I didn't google at all. I thought it was better to rely on the users, their memories being some fine search engine (btw, your link is PERFECT). Thanks to all, that's pretty interesting, and will captivate and make salivate all the kids.
posted by nicolin at 12:35 PM on April 14, 2011


dirtdirt: " Pecan pie isn't just good - it's the best dessert planet Earth can offer."


Ever had hickory nut pie?

posted by notsnot at 12:39 PM on April 14, 2011


Turtles (not sure these are regional, I've known New Englanders and people from other areas that think of them as being from their own region.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:41 PM on April 14, 2011


Upstate NY: Roadside soft serve ice cream.
posted by zamboni at 12:43 PM on April 14, 2011


North Carolina: Moravian spice cookies from Old Salem! The world's thinnest cookie! They were invented by Moravian immigrants in America, so that counts as an American food, right?

Or, Cheerwine soda.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:49 PM on April 14, 2011


Texas has given the world Italian Cream Cake. Never mind the name. So I would nominate that, because it is good, it is Texan, and it appeals to my perverse sense of humor.

Pecan pie and peach pie are both popular around here (since pecans and peaches both grow well here), but Texas can't lay claim to either one being original to the state.
posted by adamrice at 12:53 PM on April 14, 2011


Indiana has the Hoosier sugar cream pie.
posted by Joey Joe Joe Junior Shabadoo at 1:04 PM on April 14, 2011


In Kentucky here. I'd serve him derby pie or bourbon balls for dessert.

A Kentucky breakfast is a big beefsteak, a quart of bourbon, and a hound dog. The dog is there, of course to eat the steak. (Thank you, Sen. Tydings).
posted by magstheaxe at 1:32 PM on April 14, 2011


In retribution for desjardins making me homesick, I would just like to add State Fair style Cream Puffs to the Wisconsin list.
posted by klarck at 1:38 PM on April 14, 2011


Just last week, for a visiting French VIP, I helped make a Wisconsin-themed meal and dessert was a delicious maple-walnut frozen custard. Cream puffs are perfectly "typical" but I don't like them. I would eat kringle for breakfast everyday if I could.

Sweet potatoes are very american, especially with marshmallows...
posted by Mngo at 1:54 PM on April 14, 2011


I grew up in Michigan, and for someone with a genuine sweet tooth, I'd recommend some of Mackinac Island's famous fudge.
posted by awesomebrad at 1:55 PM on April 14, 2011


Tarte Au Sucre or tarte au venee are favorites in my French Canadian Vermont family.
posted by koolkat at 2:00 PM on April 14, 2011


Marionberry Pie for Oregon

Growing up in Northern California, we had a Meyer lemon tree in our yard so I'd suggest a big glass of homemade freshly squeezed lemonade made with them.
posted by vespabelle at 2:01 PM on April 14, 2011


Maine - blueberry pie, with or without ice cream.
Massachusetts - Indian pudding, which is corn meal, molasses deliciousness, served warm and topped with cream.
New England, in general - chocolate donuts. Must be sugared, not powdered sugared.
Ohio - fresh strawberry pie - pie shell, fresh strawbs, red gooey stuff that holds it together. Top with whipped stuff; feel free to use cool whip, the red dye in the gel/goo's gonna kill ya 1st. Or just go to the Big Boy, 'cause it's always on the menu.
Louisiana - beignet or bread pudding with bourbon sauce (Bon Ton Cafe version). Bread pudding's really good, but bourbon sauce takes it to another level.
posted by theora55 at 2:07 PM on April 14, 2011


For Washington state, apple or cherry pie with a crust containing wheat from eastern WA, Aplets or Cotlets, and beer made with WA grains and hops. You'd probably also need some ice cream for all the dairies here. And something with corn; we grow loads of corn here.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 3:05 PM on April 14, 2011


For Nebraska:

Runzas (the real, original ground hamburger, cheese, onion and kraut wrapped in dough)
Grilled corn on the cob
The BEST steak, Omaha steak, accept no substitutes

I'm kind of stumped for desserts...the creamy jello with marshmellows? Chocolate wagonwheel cookies were always a family tradition.
posted by ninjakins at 4:03 PM on April 14, 2011


Here in NC, it would either be Red Velvet cake, Cocoanut Cake, or banana pudding (with the nilla wafers) OR my personal favorite, chocolate merangue pie. My mom rocks at making that.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:26 PM on April 14, 2011


(Also known as chocolate cream pie. You can get away with putting whipped cream on it instead of merangue if you must.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:27 PM on April 14, 2011


I love coconut cake! I don't think I'd had it before I went to Indiana.
posted by small_ruminant at 4:31 PM on April 14, 2011


Chess pie, characteristic of much of the American south, is so cloyingly sweet, that some folks add a tablespoon or two of vinegar to the standard chess pie recipe, and call the still sweet result "vinegar pie." Some in the American south still make and enjoy very sweet peach, apple, or citrus sherbet, topped with brandied fruit.
posted by paulsc at 4:48 PM on April 14, 2011


I don't feel like my state (Missouri) has a unique cuisine, but then, maybe some day I'll mention such-and-such dish and someone will be all, "You guys eat WHAT?"

But oh, is eating a homemade apple pie on your grandmother's farm while you watch the barn cats creep around just perfect.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 5:27 PM on April 14, 2011


I live in Washington state, so apple pie and cherry pie are the first things that come to mind, as our state is one of the country's leading producers of super-delicious apples and cherries.

Next I would choose the Dutch Baby, because it's sort of a Seattle brunch classic. (I think from the Norwegian influence?)
posted by ErikaB at 5:29 PM on April 14, 2011


Michigan: from the northern areas that attract a lot of summer tourism, cherry pie/cobbler and the previously mentioned fudge. Also, a peanut butter milkshake.
posted by redfishbluefish at 5:42 PM on April 14, 2011


North Dakota: lefsa and Indian fry bread (sweet, not savory) for dessert. Maybe rhubarb pie.

Southern California (where, North Dakotans should note, I'm from): huh. Churros, I guess.

Neither place, to my knowledge, has particularly distinct breakfast.
posted by librarylis at 6:32 PM on April 14, 2011


rural upper east tennessee here. make either a stack cake or a cobbler, but i've heard a tennessee cobbler is considered traditional only if it's made over an open fire in a cast iron dutch oven.
posted by patricking at 6:43 PM on April 14, 2011


Swedes always laugh at American birthday cakes, especially the buttercream frosting.
posted by beerbajay at 6:15 AM on April 15, 2011


jander03: "Louisiana has pralines, beignets, moon pies, and iced coffee."

*cough* Moon Pies come from Chattanooga, Tennessee. I'll give you the beignets, though.
posted by workerant at 8:12 AM on April 15, 2011


(But do they always toss out moon pies at parades? Well, then.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:56 AM on April 15, 2011


as a fellow ESL teacher, great idea !

I'm shocked no one else mentioned Apple Crisp !

/Northern Ohio here
posted by fizzix at 9:36 AM on April 15, 2011


For South Dakota, either rhubarb pie or scotcharoo bars/Special K bars!
posted by bristolcat at 11:49 AM on April 15, 2011


For Florida, it's all about the Key Lime Pie.
posted by tautological at 2:09 PM on April 15, 2011


For Minnesota I would say maple candy, birch beer, and apple or rhubarb pie. Anything with rhubarb, in fact.
If it didn't necessarily have to be sweet, I'm pretty sure hotdish is our most iconic food, especially with tater tots.
Otherwise, I would just take a visitor to the State Fair where you can likely sample all of the above foods on a stick, as well as many, many others.
posted by Demogorgon at 3:53 PM on April 15, 2011


Washington State: Chukar Cherries
posted by illenion at 9:40 PM on April 16, 2011


new york cheesecake
posted by jefftang at 5:29 AM on April 18, 2011


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