It’s hard to disassociate food from travel. Experiencing a locale’s culinary culture is half of the reason we hit the road. From New England’s clam chowder to Mississippi’s mud pie, these 10 dishes are named after places within the United States. While they may not be what each destination is most known for (even by culinary standards), they are all worthy enough to wear their state or city’s name.
1. Boston Cream Pie
Chef M. Sanzian invented this dessert at the Parker House Hotel (now the Omni Park House) in 1856. The Boston cream pie is a custard-filled and chocolate covered sponge cake, don’t let the name fool you. If you find yourself in Boston, pay a visit to Parker’s Restaurant at the Omni Parker House. They’re still serving up the official dessert of Massachusetts from the kitchen that invented it.
2. Buffalo Wings?
This deep-fried chicken wing hails from Buffalo, New York. The dish is most commonly credited to Teressa Bellissimo, owner of Anchor Bar. The popular appetizer and bar food is typically slathered in a vinegar-and-cayenne-pepper hot sauce before being served with celery sticks and blue cheese or ranch dressing for dipping. Anchor Bar is still open and hawking its original spicy wings. July 29, national Chicken Wing Day, would be a great time to visit.
3. Philly Cheesesteak?
?The Liberty Bell of Philadelphia’s food scene, the Philly cheesesteak includes hearty portions of thinly-slice steak and ?melted cheese (sometimes Cheez Whiz) served on a roll. Pat and Harry Olivieri are most often cited as inventors of the cheesesteak. Local legend has it they began selling it from their hot dog stand. After the cheesesteak began to catch on, Pat Olivieri opened Pat’s King of Steaks in 1930, which is still selling the famous sandwich today.
4. Texas Toast?
Everything is bigger in Texas … and that includes the toast. Extra-thick Texas toast is made by slathering both sides of the bread with butter before broiling to a golden brown. The toast can be used as sandwich bread and as a popular side with barbecue and other Southern dishes. As far as who invented Texas toast, that remains contested.
5. New York Cheesecake?
Cheesecake is popular around the world and dates as far back as ancient Greece, but no variety (and there are many) is more famous than New York-style cheesecake. The Big Apple’s take on the cake includes decadent cream cheese (sometimes sour cream) and a crushed cookie or graham cracker crust. While other varieties are often embellished with chocolate, fruit or other toppings, classic New York cheesecake is served as is. Arnold Reuben (yes, of Reuben sandwich fame) is often credited with creating New York’s classic dessert. You won’t have any trouble finding a slice next time you’re in New York, but the iconic Lindy’s at Broadway and 51st Street is especially famous for its cheesecake.
6. California Roll?
Sushi as we know it today has been around since the end of the 17th century, but it didn’t hit the United States until the 1960s. Ichiro Mashita, a Japanese chef working in one of Los Angeles’ first sushi restaurants created the California roll. In trying to meet the appeal of the local palate, Mashita altered a traditional roll, trading tuna for avocado and eventually making the roll inside-out (rice outside of the seaweed), although it’s sometimes still served with the seaweed on the outside. Other ingredients include cucumber, crab (or imitation crab) meat, and garnished with toasted sesame seeds or tobiko (flying fish roe). The roll’s popularity quickly caught on and helped ease Americans into eating sushi. Today, it would be difficult to find a sushi bar or super market that doesn’t sell the California roll.
7. Baked Alaska?
Baked Alaska goes by many names, comes in several varieties, and is claimed to be invented by a good number of people. The name baked Alaska, however, can be credited to ?Delmonico’s Restaurant? in New York City in 1876 which named its version of the dessert in honor of the Alaska Purchase and the newly-acquired territory’s cool temperatures. The dessert, which features ?an ?ice cream-topped cake ?that is typically ?covered in meringue ?and quickly browned in the oven?, ?? is celebrated each year on February 1 as Baked Alaska Day in the United States. Feeling adventurous in the kitchen? Try this 6.5-hour recipe from the Food Network.?
8. Mississippi Mud Pie?
Arguably the most decadent state-named dish on this list, Mississippi mud pie is practically all parts chocolate. This simple recipe features chocolate pie crust filled with a gooey chocolate custard that’s covered in (you guessed it) chocolate sauce and often topped with a layer of vanilla ice cream. While it’s believed the pie was created in Mississippi, its name comes from the chocolate ingredients, which are said to resemble the banks of the Mississippi (Big Muddy) River.
9. Philadelphia Cream Cheese??
Philadelphia became the city associated with this popular “schmear” after dairy farmers from New York began creating, and eventually mass producing, cream cheese. William Lawrence is cited as the first to mass produce it, although other farmers around the state (and world) had been making it for years. In 1880 the city was chosen as a brand name for its positive reputation for producing top-notch cheese. Today, Philadelphia Cream Cheese is sold around the world and more than 20 different varieties.
10. New England Clam Chowder?
Quite a few East Coast states proudly serve a namesake clam chowder, including New Jersey and Delaware, but the New England variety is the true classic. It’s thicker and creamier than some of the other East Coast versions and traditionally includes clams, potatoes onion, and is garnished with oyster crackers. One thing you’ll never find in an authentic bowl of New England clam chowder is tomatoes. While the version served in Manhattan includes them, adding tomatoes to traditional New England clam chowder was outlawed in Maine in 1939.
Lauren Kilberg is a Chicago-based freelance writer and blogger. Her travels have found her camping near the Pakistani border of India, conquering volcanoes in the Philippines and being humbled in Haiti. She spent two years living and working in South Korea.