Special Report

Signature Dishes from 50 American Cities

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New York
> Signature: Bagel

A dense, chewy doughnut-shaped yeast roll whose dough is boiled before baking. First brought to New York’s Lower East Side by Polish Jewish immigrants in the late 19th century, bagels are now found everywhere in the city and far beyond, often made with various toppings (sesame or poppy seeds, for example) or variously flavored. The classic New York preparation is sliced, spread with cream cheese, and topped with lox (smoked salmon). Other New York signatures: “dirty water dogs” (a ubiquitous street-cart specialty of hot dogs pulled from a metal tub of warm water and served on a soft bun with various condiments); New York-style cheesecake, dense and creamy and much thicker than other varieties.

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Philadelphia
> Signature: Philly cheesesteak

Thin-sliced beef and melted cheese on a submarine-style roll, with or without fried onions, mushrooms, and/or sweet or spicy peppers. The cheesesteak was invented in 1930 by a local hot dog vendor, Pat Olivieri — namesake of Pat’s King of Steaks, one of the city’s most famous purveyors of cheesesteaks to this day. Other Philadelphia signatures: roast pork sandwich (shaved or sliced pork, broccoli rabe, and provolone on an Italian roll); soft pretzels, served with mustard.

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Portland, Maine
> Signature: Lobster roll

Cold lobster meat dressed with mayonnaise, sometimes mixed with scallions, chives, celery, and/or tarragon and served on a hot dog bun (sometimes the split-top kind). Maine is considered America’s lobster capital, and lobster rolls are found everywhere around the state.

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Providence, Rhode Island
> Signature: Stuffie

The chopped meat of large clams, usually the kind called quahogs, mixed with bread crumbs, chopped onions, celery, bell pepper, and herbs, then baked in the shell. The origin of stuffies is unclear, but quahogs became popular in the region only after 1938.

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Racine, Wisconsin
> Signature: Kringle

A flat, oval Danish-style pastry filled with nuts and sometimes fruit and glazed with icing. Kringles were introduced to Racine — which has been called “the most Danish city in America” — in the late 19th century by Danish immigrants. In Denmark, kringles are pretzel-shaped, and bakeries in that country traditionally depict one on their signs.

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