The United Tastes of America

Published 2:56 pm Monday, July 2, 2012

Wherever you are in America today, you can make great use of local food, either farmed or foraged. Her regions’ rise up to their notable nibbles:  Maine – Lobsters. Maryland – Blue Crabs.  Florida – Citrus and Stone Crabs. Georgia and South Carolina – Peaches. Louisiana – Shrimp and Crawfish.  Washington and Alaska – Salmon.  North Carolina – barbecue.
From sea to shining sea, America’s arc of flavor creates the most hearty and nutritious meal plan on the planet.  We are abundant, creative, resourceful and wild.  Take a look at some of these distinctive foods that speak of providence, yet in true melting pot fashion, have “Americanized” our restaurants, cookbooks and home kitchens.
The Northeast: The waters of the northern Atlantic were said to be so stuffed with cod that a person could bound from boat to boat across their glistening backs. As with the bison of the prairie, the seemingly infinite cod proved all too finite. Though depleted by over-fishing, cod (mostly Pacific cod now) remains a very popular fish nationwide. Oyster, clam and lobster industries have also thrived in the Northeast. In Pennsylvania, Italian immigrants created what would become the famous Philly cheese steak, while Americans of German descent developed warm comfort foods like chicken pot pie and regional wonders like scrapple, shoofly pie and the soft pretzel. Up north in Vermont, a formidable Cheddar cheese industry took shape to rival the best farmhouse Cheddars of England. And all across New England, clam shacks also served up a Maine classic: the lobster roll.
The Southeast: Along the coast of South Carolina and Georgia lies a stretch of coastal plains, marshlands, swamps and Sea Islands known as the Lowcountry. Here, French and West African culinary traditions came together to build a cuisine based on rice and the area’s abundant seafood. Frogmore stew, for example, is a culinary creation credited to African-Americans of West African heritage known as the Gullah. If you use words like “goober” (for peanut) and “gumbo,” you’re speaking a bit of Gullah.  The Carolina’s take their barbecue seriously, allowing for both pork and beef and the eastern more vinegar-based sauce v. heading west to taste a more tomato-based sauce.

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