Every region of the United States is known for certain foods, from lobster in New England to enchiladas in the Southwest. But the deeper you go, the more you realize that certain dishes or ingredients can be an intrinsic element of the identity of the residents of a state or region, even if they’re sometimes nearly unheard-of outside of its borders. (These are America’s most iconic dishes.)
The cuisine of a certain state is often heavily influenced by those who settled there. Mexicans left elements of their cuisine in the Southwest, European and Russian immigrants contributed many of their traditional foods to the North and Midwest, and formerly enslaved people contributed heavily to cuisine commonly associated with the South.(These are iconic Southern foods every American should try.)
Over the decades, these foods were tweaked and adapted, and today they’ve become synonymous with certain places. Some of the most iconic foods from every state got that way because they put a plentiful local ingredient to good use, some were brought by immigrants, some were simply invented there and remained popular even as the rest of the country caught on, and some are iconic for reasons largely unknown.
To compile a list of the most iconic dish in every state, 24/7 Tempo consulted listings in The Daily Meal, Food Network, Time Out, BuzzFeed, Southern Living, Thrillist, and Taste of Home, as well as numerous state-specific sites.
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