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Eating America

eating-america

American cuisine gets a bad rap around the world, being identified with Big Macs and bigger butts, fast-food hotdogs and Coca Cola imperialism. In reality, however, the food of the United States has drawn from as many cultures as its people, and the result is a regional rainbow of specialties from the floppy pizzas of New York to the tamale trucks of Los Angeles.

Here is a sampling of American food to try while you are traveling across the country:

New England

Famous for thick clam chowders, corn beef hash, boiled cabbage and hearty squash stew, the cuisine of the Northeast is meant to keep your belly full and warm on the biting cold days of winter. Seafood is king in this maritime culture, and from fresh lobsters eaten on the beach in Maine to scallops on the deck in Cape Cod, you can indulge in the fruit of the sea. Boston is famous for it's rich baked beans and luscious cream pies, and you will find maple syrup used in dishes all over New England from the bottom of your Sunday ham to the top of your pancakes, made with Maine blueberries, of course.

New York City

This epic city has anything you could possibly want to eat, and you can have it delivered to your door 24/7. Especially popular is "New York-style" pizza, which is wide, thin and so floppy you have to fold it to get it in your mouth. Many neighborhoods cater to certain cuisines, like Little Italy and Chinatown, and you can spend as much on a steak as you want to.

The South

Fried foods reign supreme, from chicken-fried steak (steak dipped in batter and deep-fried, topped with a thick gravy, mashed potatoes and served with biscuits) to fried okra, fried pickles, fried squash- you get the idea. Near the coast you will find fabulous seafood, in particular catfish, which is usually served fried (duh) and with hushpuppies. Cornbread, beans and greens are also prevalent, and breakfasts are big and bountiful. Banana pudding is a popular dessert, and iced tea is the beverage of the century.

New Orleans/Southern Louisiana

This region has a unique and spicy cuisine, created over the centuries by the mélange of immigrants from Acadia with French roots, Creoles from the Caribbean islands, and African slaves. "Cajun Food" is spicy and uses a variety of meats, seafood, and veggies in dishes like gumbo (a thick stew) and jambalaya (a hot rice dish). Desserts include beignets (deep fried donuts rolled in sugar and cinnamon), and the unofficial drink of New Orleans is the Hurricane: a juice and rum concoction that can make you feel you have been through a storm yourself if you indulge too heartily.

Texas

The Lone Star state serves up much of the same food as the south, only with a big influx of barbeque and Tex-Mex: quesadillas, nachos, burritos, and tacos, all served with jalapenos. Texas chili is world famous. A traditional Texas barbeque dinner includes a combination of beef brisket (softer barbeque that pulls apart), pork ribs, smoked sausages, potato salad, coleslaw, beans, fresh onions, jalapenos and pickles, cornbread or biscuits, iced tea, and homemade peach cobbler with ice cream for dessert. Hungry yet?

Chicago

This great American city is famous for its deep-dish pizza, perfected by generations of Italian immigrants and devoured by many hungry locals and travelers alike. You will also find Italian beef sandwiches dipped in au jus and kielbasa hotdogs, served with yellow mustard, pickle relish, and peppers- but no ketchup.

Seattle

The Pike Place Fish Market is the city's top tourist attraction, and here you can see the wide variety of sea creatures that feed the Pacific Northwest, from fresh Geoduck clams to Sockeye salmon to King crab legs. Wild smoked salmon is particularly popular and the world's best espresso is enjoyed all day long. You will never have a problem finding a Starbucks joint, since they are everywhere- often on the same block or facing each other on opposite sides of the street.

San Francisco

The beautiful City of the Bay is known for its delicious sourdough bread, often eaten in bread-bowl form with a hearty soup or stew inside- perfect for all those foggy mornings. Crab is king, and don't leave the city without trying cioppino, an Italian fish stew. Fine California wines play a large role at dinnertime, and like most West Coast cities, Asian foods are easy to come by and done well, from Vietnamese Pho soup to Phud Thai to Chinese Dim Sum.

Los Angeles

Like New York City, you can find any cuisine you can think of in LA, from Peking duck to Cuban sandwiches to Swiss fondue, with a heavy emphasis on spicy dishes from Mexico. Taco trucks and burrito vans abound, sushi joints are everywhere, fresh oranges and strawberries are inexpensive snacks, and you can't go to the Santa Monica pier without enjoying a corn dog. Los Angeles cuisine is defined by its ethnic variety, much like the city itself.

Hawaii

True to its Polynesian roots, the cuisine of the Pacific islands of Hawaii places a strong emphasis on fresh seafood and tropical fruits. The large Japanese population means that rice and sushi are also popular, and you will find fields filled with pineapples warmed from the sun and trees dripping with creamy avocados, and sweet strawberry guavas. Macaroni salad is ridiculously popular, and make sure you experience a traditional luau where you can try pigs roasted in the ground (imus), poi (a thick purplish paste made from the taro root) and of course, tropical drinks like Blue Hawaii's, Mai Tai's, and Pina Coladas.


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