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!
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Can you name this sandwich that was invented in Fall River, Massachusetts, in the 1930s or 1940s?
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.
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This stew, famous in Kentucky, is made of whatever meat and veggies you have handy. That can include anything from mutton to squirrel. What is it?
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.
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What is this open-faced sandwich made with turkey, bacon and Mornay sauce?
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.
CET Utah via YouTube
This burger from Salt Lake City, Utah, features hot pastrami as a topping. What is it?
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.
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This sandwich got some international attention in the '90s, when it was featured on the show "Roseanne." What is it?
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.
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What's this Cincinnati breakfast that features sausage meat mixed with oats and formed into a loaf, then sliced and fried?
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.
Jay del Corro via YouTube
This Hawaiian staple features rice topped with a hamburger patty topped with an egg and gravy. What is it?
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.
The Providence Journal via YouTube
This Rhode Island dish is made with quahogs. What is it?
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.
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This Alaskan ice cream was traditionally made with the fat of polar bears, caribou or walrus, plus snow and fruit. What is it?
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.
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This sweet pasta salad can be enjoyed in Utah, if you're into sweet pasta salad.
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.
Mark Young - Outside the Box via YouTube
This Maine dish is supposed to be cooked in a pit. What is it?
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.
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This Massachusetts sandwich sounds like dessert, yet it's still a sandwich. What is it?
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.
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This famous dish from Rochester, New York, has an extremely unappetizing name. What is it?
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.
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This sandwich is popular in West Virginia and can often be found at convenience stores. What is 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.
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This unusually prepared burger is most often found in Connecticut. What is it?
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.
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This spiced meat sauce is served on spaghetti or hot dogs in Cincinnati. What is it?
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.
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This preposterously named hot dog makes its home in Rhode Island. What is it?
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.
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What do you call this food that's famous in Iowa and Illinois?
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.
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This dish, found in and around Pennsylvania, is made of bits of meat mixed with grains, formed into a loaf, sliced and then fried. What is it?
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.
Reel Utica Films via YouTube
This pasta dish calls Utica, New York, its home. What is it?
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.
Chef Buck via YouTube
This Southern treat can be found in the Carolinas, Georgia, Mississippi and other states. What is it?
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.
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This dish is so popular in Nashville that they have a festival to celebrate it. What is it?
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.
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This Florida classic is made with ham, roasted pork, Swiss cheese and pickles. What is it?
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.
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This pizza was made famous in Illinois. What is it?
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.
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The Twin Cities in Minnesota are where you can find this burger. What is it?
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.
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This Hawaiian food has some Asian flair. What is 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.
SmokeyGoodness via YouTube
This Nebraskan item is kind of like a meat-filled Hot Pocket. What is it?
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.
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This New England dessert is also found in parts of Canada and Jamaica. What is it?
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.
POPSUGAR Food via YouTube
They call this dish that's popular around Iowa a salad, but it's definitely not healthy. What is it?
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.
This Arizona specialty features bacon, pinto beans, tomato and onion. What is it?
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.
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This Hawaiian dish is almost like deconstructed sushi in a bowl. What is it?
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.
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This Indiana sandwich is a lot like schnitzel on a bun. What is it?
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.
D Hon via YouTube
In Kansas City, you can get this intense sandwich loaded with BBQ brisket, provolone and onion rings. What is it?
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.
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St. Louis is responsible for this incredibly rich, incredibly sugary dessert. What is it?
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.
Cara Di Falco via YouTube
Head to the Northeastern U.S. to try this sweet snack that's generally made during the fall harvest season.
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.
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This delicious Puerto Rican dish is made with fried plantains. What is it?
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.
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If you're in South Dakota and have access to some hot oil and some skewers, you can maybe make this local dish. What is it?
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.
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If you make your way to Washington, D.C., you can try this local favorite. What is it?
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.
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If you're going to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, you should probably try what colorful dessert?
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.
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If you visited California and didn't try one of these, did you even really visit California?
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.
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