The tamale really is an odd little food item. Stewed meat is wrapped in some sort of mushy corn meal and rolled up in inedible corn husks. Don’t try to eat the whole thing like a dolmathakia, the Greek delicacy of stuffed grape leaves. There are better ways to get your daily fiber allotment.
But to some foodies, especially those who grew up eating tamales, they’re an object of obsession. Most folks probably associate tamales with Mexican food and those tamales usually use masa flour as the main ingredient and are served at both breakfast and dinner. In the Mississippi Delta, however, a uniquely American brand of tamales is made using cornmeal and pork, beef, chicken or turkey. These tamales are often packed by the dozen in plastic jars or coffee cans and sold on the front counter of convenience stores or gas stations.
Buffalo, New York is nestled on the shores of Lake Erie midway between Jamestown and Niagara Falls. The state’s second largest metropolitan area (after New York City) is home to hearty folks who endure notoriously bad weather, yearn for a championship from the NFL’s Bills and NHL’s Sabres, and know how to eat!
Locals take pride in homegrown, original foods, some of which—like wings(not Buffalo wings, not chicken wings, just wings)—have become synonymous with the area.
For 40 years, I lived a few miles south of Buffalo. Now that I’m living in South Carolina I don’t miss the winters a bit, but I do miss feasting on Buffalo food traditions. So I make an annual pilgrimage north to savor favorites at local restaurants and tote home a carload of staples.
Here’s a list of the foods that I think sets Western New York apart. Shuffle off to Buffalo, seek, sample, savor and let the feast begin!
Every state has an iconic food. Think of Maryland and your mind goes to crab cakes, Pennsylvania and it’s a juicy Philly Cheese steak, West Virginia (yes, West Virginia, hey, it’s my home state, I have to show it a little love) has pepperoni rolls, and in North Carolina, it’s barbecue. While these foods may be the first to come to mind, they’re by no means the only foods worth note. Take North Carolina, my adopted home state, as an example. Yeah, we’ve got barbecue—two styles and a dozen great places for each—but with more than 300 miles of coastline we have exceptional seafood, and every ethnic group that’s called this state home has left a greasy thumbprint on our food culture. So, if you’ve got a hankering for some of the iconic foods of North Carolina, here’s my list of where to start.
It’s no secret: Burnsville, Minnesota is home to some of the Twin Cities metro area’s best independently owned and operated restaurants. These five eateries are truly one-of-a-kind and worth the trip, whether you’re coming down from the Boundary Waters, up from Iowa, or over from wherever you happen to define yonder.
The chefs and owners at these restaurants all know that quality ingredients make the difference between ho-hum and yum. To ensure freshness, their menus feature seasonal, local ingredients as much as possible. They blend tradition and innovation to serve up a scrumptious range of dishes from comfort foods to genuine surprises. Come belly up to a table in Burnsville and bite into bliss.
One ingredient with mysterious origins pops up in dishes across St. Augustine, Florida.
In the early 1500s, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon sailed his Spanish galleon through choppy coastal waters in search of the legendary Fountain of Youth. Ponce de Leon was the first documented European to explore Florida’s northeast coast. In 1513 he traveled to a territory inhabited by Seminole Indians. After the Spanish settled what is now the city of St. Augustine, the oldest continuously-inhabited city of European origin in the United States, along came the French, English and free Africans. During that migration, at least one ship contained what has become St. Augustine’s favorite pepper: the datil.
I’ve been happily munching on Pennsylvania Dutch food for almost 50 years. My parents, and their parents before them, and on back, were born in central Pennsylvania, more or less ground zero for the cuisine. But trying to classify it isn’t easy, even for me. To begin with, the name is a misnomer: Pennsylvania Dutch fare has spread to Maryland, Virginia, Ohio and the Midwest. Tomake it more confusing, it’s not Dutch, either. The term evolved from the word “Deutsch,” the German word for German, which referred to German-speaking settlers who immigrated long ago to the Keystone State.