> Iconic dish: Clam chowder
Did someone say chowdah?! Perhaps no food is more closely associated with Massachusetts than creamy New England clam chowder. As opposed to its tomato-based Manhattan cousin, this more popular chowder version is flour-thickened, with plenty of cream or milk, onion, potato, salt pork, and, most importantly, freshly-shucked clams. It’s the perfect bowl of goodness to warm you up on a cold Boston day.
> Iconic dish: Mackinac Island fudge
Mackinac Island is a 4.35-square-mile island at the very top of Michigan’s “glove,” and with its abundant nature, lack of cars, and slew of historic homes and hotels, it’s essentially a place where time stands still. In that vein, it’s also one of the best places in America to find that very old-timey treat, fudge. Fudge shops proliferate on the island, producing every flavor imaginable and supplying shops throughout the state.
> Iconic dish: Hotdish
A staple of church suppers, potlucks, and family reunions throughout Minnesota, hotdish is, at its simplest, a casserole that contains a meat, a canned or frozen vegetable, some type or canned soup for flavor, and a starch on top. The variations are endless, but a popular one contains ground beef, corn, cream of mushroom soup, and a top layer of Tater Tots. It’s inexpensive, tasty, easy to make, and hearty enough to feed a crowd, and it’s so popular that there are annual hotdish festivals and competitions.
> Iconic dish: Tamales
Tamales are most commonly associated with south-of-the-border cuisine, but they’ve taken on a life of their own in Mississippi. Called Delta-style tamales, these “hot tamales” were developed by African-Americans who came into contact with Mexican farm laborers and are made with coarse-ground cornmeal instead of masa; the filling more closely resembles spicy chili than anything else. They’re wrapped in corn husks and steamed or simmered, and sometimes served with ranch dressing.
> Iconic dish: Toasted ravioli
A staple in the historic St. Louis Italian neighborhood known as The Hill that’s become a beloved snack throughout the state, toasted ravioli (affectionately known as “t-ravs”) are made by breading and deep-frying meat ravioli, finishing them with a sprinkle of parmesan, and serving them with marinara sauce on the side. Charlie Gitto’s and Mama Campisi’s, both restaurants on The Hill, claim to have invented the dish in the 1940s, and remain the most famous spots to try it.
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