Special Report

Signature Dishes from 50 American Cities

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Milwaukee
> Signature: Fried cheese curds

Pieces of curd left over from the cheesemaking process, battered and deep-fried. They have been described as “a staple in the diet of any true Milwaukeean.” Another Milwaukee signature: the cannibal sandwich, a piece of rye bread topped with chopped raw beef and chopped onion.

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Minneapolis
> Signature: The Juicy Lucy

A cheeseburger with the cheese enclosed inside the patty so that it melts into liquid as the burger cooks. The Juicy Lucy was invented in a bar in south Minneapolis in the 1950s — either at the 5-8 Club or Matt’s Bar (which insists on spelling it “Jucy Lucy”).

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Nashville, Tennessee
> Signature: Hot chicken

Fried chicken with a spicy — sometimes very spicy — breading. According to legend, the dish has its origins in the 1930s, when a woman who had been wronged by a man-about-town named Thornton Prince sought revenge by serving him the spiciest chicken possible. To her dismay, he loved it that way and eventually opened the restaurant that became Prince’s Hot Chicken.

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New Haven, Connecticut
> Signature: Pizza

Thin-crust pizza in the Neapolitan style, cooked in very hot brick ovens (sometimes coal-fired) to produce a signature char on the crust. The style started when Frank Pepe opened his Pizzeria Napoletana in 1925. His signature — and that of New Haven pizza in general — became the white clam pizza, topped with clams, garlic, parsley, and romano cheese.

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New Orleans
> Signature: Po’boy

A French bread loaf filled with anything from roast beef to fried shrimp, oysters, or other seafood, along with various condiments. Legend has it that the po’boy was invented by two New Orleans brothers in 1929 to feed striking streetcar workers (the “poor boys”). Other New Orleans signatures: muffuletta, a kind of Italian sub on a large round loaf, filled with Italian deli meats, cheese (usually provolone), olive salad, and sometimes pickled vegetables; beignets (fried yeast dough sprinkled with powdered sugar); gumbo (thick multi-ingredient stew in many varieties, thickened with okra or with filé — ground dried sassafras leaves).

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