The 50 Quintessential Local Dishes/Foods

April 22, 2009 at 8:39 am

Rob Gardner

At least once a week, I like to share some materials I come across on the Internets.  Through one of my Google alerts, I came across a compilation of 50 quintessential American dishes.  I mentioned in passing that I did not agree that it was the 50.  I mean not to disparage the work of ChefGwen, but if you give me 50 of anything, will I agree with all of it?  I’m the kinda guy that’s gonna start debating when a list gets to three.  So, Gwen commented on yesterday’s post, not so much taking umbrage but at least throwing down the gauntlet.  What was my 50.  It would not have frito pie, and, honestly, I have no idea what is King Ranch Chicken Casserole.  I’d for sure include Chicago hot dogs and Florida stone crabs with mustard sauce.  I starting thinking up a list.

Then, I thought, nah, 50 American dishes.  I’d do 50 LOCAL dishes.  That is dishes native to my locality, the Great Lakes area, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin.  And, of course, there’s no way I can come up with 50 dishes, quintessential local dishes.  So, I’ve padded the list with some local fruits and vegetables too.  Fruits and vegetables that are not necessarily unique to our region, but ones especially associated with our region or that show especially well in our region.  As I said yesterday, I’m not sure you’ll agree with the list.  Call it a conversation starter.

Chicago hot dog
Coney dog
Chicken vesuvio
Frozen custard
Friday fish fry
Corn on the cob
Maid-rite/loose meat
Italian beef
Italian (fresh) sausage
Persimmons/persimmon pudding
BBQ ribs
Boned + buttered perch
Black walnuts
Concord grapes
Black truffle explosion
Pork tenderloin
Deep dish pizza
Thin crust, square cut pizza
Sheet pizza
Maple syrup
Red haven peaches
Panfried chicken
Sugar pie
Sour cream raisin pie
Cole slaw
Long cooked green beans
Skillet breakfasts
Turtle candies
Shrimp de Jonghe
Fish boil
Cheese curds
Cheese spread
Summer sausage
Carmel corn
Steak tacos
Jello salads
Relish tray/plates

There’s 50. I did not include hamburgers. We have plenty of great burger options in this area including some unique variations like the butter-burger. Still, burgers are so quintessentially American, I did not feel they belonged in a local list.  Moreover, I went from struggling to fill the list at around 35 to quickly going over 50.  Pumpkin pie and biscuits and gravy were two things that almost made the cut.  Argue away.


One Comment

  1. chefgwen says:

    I love your list, or more accurately, I love that you put your list together. Some of yours were actually considerations for mine (popcorn, corn on the cob).

    And the horseshoe sandwich is probably about as healthy as Frito pie.

    Thanks for taking the challenge and wasn’t it fun thinking of all the wonderful dishes that we all hold dear?

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