Everyone knows cuisine on a grand scale - Mexican, Italian, Chinese, French. Those are all delicious and well worth eating at every chance you get. But sometimes the best foods are a little less well known. Secret, tasty items that pop up in a certain town or region because an inspired chef has some great ingredients and does something brilliant.
Regional foods are some of the best things you can discover as you travel across the country. They're also the things you'll miss most when you leave home and realize no one on the other side of the country has ever heard of loco moco or hot brown. In fact, they'll probably make fun of you for even asking for hot brown. How do they not know how delicious hot brown is?
If you consider yourself any kind of a foodie, if you pride yourself on your gastronomic know-how, then surely you're familiar with a wide array of the regional delicacies that help make America's food landscape a delectable party for the senses. If you know your Watergate salad from your Frogmore stew, then this is the quiz for you. Grab your knife and fork, a pinch of salt and a shake of pepper, then dig into the ultimate regional food quiz!
The chow mein sandwich is very much what it sounds like. It features a chow mein mixture in gravy, served on a hamburger-style bun. It's usually only served in a very small region of New England.
Burgoo is often served with cornbread and is generally made for a social event of some kind. It's an extremely thick stew, if it's been made right.
Born at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, the hot brown is turkey, bacon and a cheesy Mornay sauce on bread. The whole thing gets put under a broiler to get all crispy and bubbly and delicious.
Crown Burgers come from the restaurant chain with the same name in Utah. The burger became such a local favorite that many other restaurants also offer a pastrami-topped burger on their menu.
Loose meat is very much what it sounds like. If you've never experienced one, imagine a sloppy joe that has no sauce, or just a hamburger that exploded for some reason.
Goetta, which rhymes with feta, is a European-inspired dish and traces its origins to parts of Cincinnati that have a heavy German population. When the meat and steel-cut oats are mixed and then fried, it gives the sausage a distinct, crispy texture.
Loco moco was created in the 1950s in Hawaii at the Lincoln Grill restaurant. According to legend, some local teens were looking for something quick and delicious, but they didn't want a sandwich.
Stuffies are essentially stuffed clams. You take the quahog clam and dice it up with bread crumbs, onion, peppers, celery and herbs, and then bake it right in the clam shell.
Inuit Akutaq is usually made with more palatable fats if it's made these days, but for a time it was traditionally made with the whipped fat of animals taken in a hunt, which could be anything from seal to caribou. The fat was mixed with snow, herbs and fruit, and was probably insanely high-calorie.
Frogeye salad doesn't contain any frog eyes, thankfully, but it does have an unusual mix of small pasta called acini de pepe, along with pineapple, oranges, coconut and marshmallow.
This dish traces its root to lumber camps in Maine. You have to soak the beans overnight, then boil them until the skins come off. Then you need to mix the beans with pork or bacon, molasses, mustard and spices, put it all in a cast iron pot and drop it into a pit lined with hot coals.
All you need to make a simple Fluffernutter sandwich is some bread, peanut butter and marshmallow fluff. It's an exceptionally sweet and sticky creation. You can make it with Nutella if you're feeling a little wild.
The name "garbage plate" refers to the fact that this dish contains just about anything and everything you might find in a diner. Home fries, macaroni salad, baked beans, hamburger, french fries, you name it.
A pepperoni roll is a fairly simple invention. You need to bake a soft, white roll with some pepperoni in the middle of it. The result is a puffy roll that absorbs the pepperoni grease as it bakes, so the whole thing has that spicy pepperoni taste mixed in.
The steamed cheeseburger is exactly what it sounds like. Rather than cooked on a grill or even a pan or flat top, the burger is placed in a stainless-steel steaming tray so that the end result is a very, very moist burger.
The thing you need to know about Cincinnati chili is that it's not actually chili. It's chili-esque, maybe. It's made from meat, stock, tomato sauce and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and, in some cases, even chocolate, plus various other ingredients of your choice. it should only be served as a topping, not as a meal.
The very literally named hot wiener is also sometimes called the New York System wiener. This was Rhode Island trying to capitalize on the Coney Island hot dog craze. A hot wiener "all the way" should be served in a steamed bun and include toppings like celery salt, onions, mustard and some kind of chili.
Quad Cities pizza is from the Quad Cities region of Iowa and Illinois. The crust is made with a mix of ingredients that includes molasses and malt, and the tomato sauce should be a little spicy as well. All the toppings are hidden under a layer of cheese.
The idea behind scrapple was to not let any food go to waste. So if you had scraps of meat left over from butchering or other preparations that weren't good for much on their own, you could save them, mix them with leftover grain bits and make a meatloaf with it. Fry it up and you've got scrapple.
Chicken riggies gets its name from the rigatoni pasta used in the dish. It should be made with a tomato and cream-based sauce that has a little spice to it, as well as some peppers and, of course, chicken.
You make boiled peanuts by boiling the freshly harvested nuts in salty water for hours until the shells become soft and the nuts taste a bit like cooked legumes. When refrigerated, the nuts will be good for about a week.
Hot chicken is a Nashville staple. The chicken is fried, and the hot part comes from the sauce applied afterward, which is often just a mix of lard and cayenne pepper, though some recipes will obviously add different spices and flavors.
The Cuban sandwich or Cubano is a lot like a next-level grilled cheese. You should also serve it with some yellow mustard, and the bread should ideally be a Cuban roll to perfect the whole thing.
Chicago-style pizza is not like pizza you're going to find anywhere else. A true deep-dish pizza from Chicago lives up to the name - deep - featuring a high crust packed with fillings. You pretty much need to eat it like an actual piece of pie.
Sometimes called the Jucy Lucy, this is a stuffed cheeseburger. Essentially that means you put cheese on top but you also put cheese inside. The origin is a mystery, as more than one place in Minnesota claims to have invented it.
Spam musubi has become incredibly popular in Hawaii. It's a grilled piece of Spam served on sushi rice and wrapped in nori, which is seaweed. This dish is so common in Hawaii you can buy it at 7-11.
Runza is such a popular food item in Nebraska that there's actually a chain called Runza. Their runzas are filled with ground beef, cabbage, onion, and all kinds of other fillings, like mushroom and Swiss cheese, bacon, BLT and more.
Grape Nuts, if you've never had them, are neither grapes nor nuts. They are crunchy little malty bits of grain that are loaded with fiber and nutrients. When you add them to ice cream, you make ice cream with a nice crunch.
Technically it's not fair to say there's nothing nutritious in a Snickers salad, as it does have Granny Smith apples. But it also has Snickers bars, whipped cream and pudding.
To make a Sonoran dog you have to wrap a hot dog in bacon and grill it, then cover the whole thing with onion, tomato and pinto beans, as well as mayonnaise, mustard and jalapeno.
Poke, which actually rhymes with "okay," is usually made with raw tuna or octopus, sliced thin and marinated in soy sauce and sesame oil. The fish is tossed in green onion and seaweed and sea salt. It can also include Maui onion and candlenut.
The pork tenderloin sandwich is a big sandwich. It was invented near Fort Wayne, Indiana, and features a pork cutlet that's breaded and deep fried before being served on a bun.
From the famous Joe's Kansas City Barbecue comes the Z-Man sandwich, named for radio personality Mike Zarrick who was a big fan of the restaurant and promoted the sandwich on his show after it was invented.
The gooey butter cake is chock full of sugar and butter, so there's no chance this is good for you, no matter how delicious it might be. The cake itself is pretty dense and brownie-like, though it's not made with chocolate.
A cider donut is a treat you can find in New Hampshire and the Northeastern U.S. during apple season when the cider is flowing. The donuts themselves can be made with cider or apple butter, plus cinnamon. They should be crispy on the outside.
Mofongo is made by taking fried plantains and mashing them with a mortar and pestle, along with garlic, salt, and pork rinds or bacon. Form the mixture into balls or use a mold to shape it into individual servings. Serve it with chicken broth and you're good to go.
Chislic is related to shish kebab. You need to take cubes of meat, usually beef or venison, and grill or deep fry them on a skewer until the outside is crispy. Or you could just toss all the cubes in the fryer at once, then serve them afterward on toothpicks. Serve with salt and maybe some BBQ sauce.
The half-smoke looks like a chili dog, but it's actually a sausage on a bun, served with onions and chili. The sausage is coarse-ground, often a mix of beef and pork. It's smoked first, then grilled, hence the clever name.
King Cake is a braided pastry cake spiced with cinnamon and pecans, then topped with colorful icing. It's traditional to bake a small plastic baby figurine inside to represent Jesus. The person who finds the baby is granted good luck and is supposed to host the king cake party next year.
The Baja fish taco is the fish taco to eat. Fried white fish, a corn tortilla and some kind of shredded cabbage, sour cream or mayo-based sauce and a squirt of lime. You can dress it up in a million ways, but it's a California classic.