> Iconic dish: Country ham
Unlike the ham you’ll find on your diner breakfast platter, country ham is a true delicacy, made by salt-curing ham for up to three months before smoking it over hardwood. It’s typically eaten on its own or perhaps tucked into a warm biscuit (perhaps with some pimento cheese). It’s salty, smoky, and a real-deal artisan product.
> Iconic dish: Dungeness crab
Dungeness crab is a beloved delicacy in the Pacific Northwest, especially in Washington State. It’s prized for its sweet, mild flavor, and is best enjoyed when super-fresh and simply boiled and cracked, but it also turns up in plenty of regional dishes like crab Louie and cioppino. Prime Dungeness crab season is during the winter months, when restaurants throughout Washington, especially waterfront seafood shacks, proudly serve the beloved crustacean.
> Iconic dish: Pepperoni rolls
Outside of West Virginia, pepperoni rolls are usually found at pizzerias, made by rolling up pepperoni with pizza dough. In West Virginia, however, pepperoni rolls are small rolls that are baked with pepperoni inside, either in coins or sticks, and possibly along with cheese. As it bakes, the oil from the pepperoni seeps into the dough, and the end result is a savory, slightly spicy snack, equally popular at bakeries and gas stations.
> Iconic dish: Cheese curds
Wisconsin is responsible for more than a quarter of all cheese produced in the United States (and nearly half of the country’s specialty cheese), and no other state is quite as closely associated with cheese. Cheese curds are an important part of the cheesemaking process; curds (solids) are separated from whey (liquid), strained, and then shaped into molds before being aged into the finished cheese. Because cheese curds are fresh, they have a very mild flavor and a “squeaky” texture when chewed; they also don’t last very long before going bad, so they’re not commonly found too far from the dairy where they’re made. In Wisconsin, you’ll find cheese curds sold on their own for snacking or battered and deep-fried on bar menus; head north of the border and they’re also a primary ingredient in the beloved Canadian dish, poutine.
> Iconic dish: Buffalo jerky
If you’re looking for a home where the buffalo roam, then look no further than Wyoming. The American bison, more commonly known as buffalo, is the state mammal of the Cowboy State, and thanks to conservation efforts thousands now roam the state (up from only 400 or so across the whole country in the 1880s). Only a handful of states allow free-range buffalo hunting, including Wyoming, and making jerky is a great way to preserve the meat of this prized animal. From truck stops to specialty shops to butcher shops, you’ll find buffalo jerky all throughout Wyoming.
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