***This is post was contributed by Dial a Flight.
From the fresh seafood of New England to the iconic BBQ of the Lone Star state, or the lavish hotel buffets of Las Vegas, to the sidewalk hot dogs of NYC, or even in the city that has it all and people booking flights to Orlando, the USA boasts an intimidatingly delicious global melting pot of cultures and cuisines. A reputation for large portions and fast service might be misleading; the assumption often being that emphasis is on quantity, not quality. Those who have sampled molecular gastronomy, sushi or haute cuisine in any of America’s cities will know this to be anything but the case. Read on for a sampling of some of the most iconic stateside fare.
Jambalaya on the Bayou
Louisiana Creole cuisine is as wild and spicy as its carnival, a blend of French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Native American and African influences. The best time to eat in New Orleans is in fall, when the ingredients tossed into the thick, rich gumbo and colorful jambalaya are at their best. For a superior sampling of some traditional tastes The Royal House Oyster Bar or Galatoire’s are both a good bet.
Key Lime on the Keys
The sunshine state yields dishes influenced by Jamaican and Caribbean cuisine, with the emphasis on sweet, tropical fruits, seafood, freshness, sizzle and spice. Stone crabs, conch, key lime pie and orange juice may all sound familiar, but intrepid foodies should also try something new. Deep-fried gator tail, anyone?
Cliché and frivolity in the windy city
For a typical all-American meal, you can’t beat Chicago, where the triumvirate of USA cliché cuisine — pizza, burgers, and the steak sandwich — has been perfected. To dine out on cheesy slabs of perfection, make for one of the city’s downtown diners. For a fresh and frivolous degustation, on the other hand, Alinea will blow your mind, with its helium-filled floating apple balloons, or its fourteen texture dishes.
There’s nowhere like the States for culinary diversity. It would be a crying shame to stick to the fast food outlets you can find anywhere, so stray from the beaten path, seek out tradition and provenance for your plate, and your palate will thank you for it.
Image by adactio, used under Creative Commons license.