Thursday, October 20, 2011

Local Junk

I just got a taste of "toasted ravioli" tonight. Sure, I've had a deep-fried ravioli (I'm from the South, where we deep-fry anything deemed as "food"), but I had no idea that this culinary coup is actually a signature regional delight of St. Louis, Missouri.

 I happen to be here working (happy coincidence is that there's a World Series going on right down the street). When I am in an American city with some measure of culture, there's an innate yearning in my belly to seek out indigenous (or notorious) local grub.

 Got me thinking: how many major cities in the States have some sort of iconic junk food? Or, at least something that could be eaten with the hands, at a tailgate, or served by hippies in the parking lot after a Widespread Panic concert...

Miami has the cubano.

Philadelphia, the cheesesteak.

New York City can claim the dirty-water hot dog and the foldable slice.

Boston has lobster rolls.

Buffalo wings, Pittsburgh-style sandwiches (with fries on top), the Louisville "hot brown", muffalettas in New Orleans and po boys along the Gulf coast.

Chicago has the Maxwell St. polish and Italian beef sandwiches.  There are Sheboygan bratwursts in Milwaukee (or, at least in Sheboygan.  Very big in Sheboygan).  Fry bread in Arizona and New Mexico.  Crab rolls in San Francisco and burritos in Los Angeles.

And, of course, Nashville hot chicken.  I could tell a few tales about that murderous shrew of a dish.

And I have to think, there are so many more.  Funny thing, growing up in Atlanta.  It's a transplant city, so many residents are from somewhere else.  They bring their cuisine (and street foods) with them, but there's always griping that none of it is "quite like home".  And everywhere's got something.

So, I'm reaching out to readers near and far to answer the question:  what is your city's iconic hand-held dish?  I've left so many cities out.  And I've probably made a mistake on at least one of the cities listed.

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