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Thu Aug 2, 2012, 08:48 PM

I delight in happy regional culinary surprises -- how about you?

Last edited Fri Aug 3, 2012, 02:36 PM - Edit history (1)

I've moved around bit and try to enjoy a new region on its own terms. Currently, I'm a yankee transplanted to southeast GA and enjoy trying new things.

One of them was boiled peanuts. When I first heard of them, it sounded as appealing as boiled steak, but now I stop at every roadside stand and even make my own.




Today, I discovered another one -- pickled green tomatoes. My mother-in-law canned a bunch and gave us a jar. Wow. Delicious.



What regional food stuff was a happy surprise for you?

60 replies, 5638 views

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Reply I delight in happy regional culinary surprises -- how about you? (Original post)
aikoaiko Aug 2012 OP
Tabasco_Dave Aug 2012 #1
aikoaiko Aug 2012 #2
Brother Buzz Aug 2012 #11
pinboy3niner Aug 2012 #3
aikoaiko Aug 2012 #4
pinboy3niner Aug 2012 #7
kwassa Aug 2012 #5
aikoaiko Aug 2012 #26
kwassa Aug 2012 #30
OriginalGeek Aug 2012 #6
nolabear Aug 2012 #8
aikoaiko Aug 2012 #14
OriginalGeek Aug 2012 #19
aikoaiko Aug 2012 #20
ecaramil Aug 2012 #9
petronius Aug 2012 #43
HopeHoops Aug 2012 #10
jmowreader Aug 2012 #39
HopeHoops Aug 2012 #49
NightWatcher Aug 2012 #12
aikoaiko Aug 2012 #13
NightWatcher Aug 2012 #15
davsand Aug 2012 #16
aikoaiko Aug 2012 #27
RebelOne Aug 2012 #17
KamaAina Aug 2012 #18
aikoaiko Aug 2012 #21
dixiegrrrrl Aug 2012 #37
aikoaiko Aug 2012 #22
Wait Wut Aug 2012 #23
aikoaiko Aug 2012 #24
Wait Wut Aug 2012 #25
TheCruces Aug 2012 #57
GoCubsGo Aug 2012 #47
shadowrider Aug 2012 #28
IBEWVET Aug 2012 #29
aikoaiko Aug 2012 #34
kwassa Aug 2012 #31
aikoaiko Aug 2012 #35
pscot Aug 2012 #32
virginia mountainman Aug 2012 #33
aikoaiko Aug 2012 #36
virginia mountainman Aug 2012 #38
harmonicon Aug 2012 #40
aikoaiko Aug 2012 #41
susanr516 Aug 2012 #42
aikoaiko Aug 2012 #44
cordelia Aug 2012 #45
Patiod Aug 2012 #50
cordelia Aug 2012 #55
GoCubsGo Aug 2012 #51
susanr516 Aug 2012 #54
murielm99 Aug 2012 #58
GoCubsGo Aug 2012 #46
aikoaiko Aug 2012 #48
baldguy Aug 2012 #52
Generic Brad Aug 2012 #53
aikoaiko Aug 2012 #56
Spider Jerusalem Aug 2012 #59
aikoaiko Aug 2012 #60

Response to aikoaiko (Original post)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 09:23 PM

1. Grilled oysters on the half shell

I hated oysters until I moved to the Pacific NW.

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Response to Tabasco_Dave (Reply #1)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 09:29 PM

2. grilled oysters are good and your oysters, in particular, are freaking delicious



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Response to Tabasco_Dave (Reply #1)

Fri Aug 3, 2012, 12:15 PM

11. Easiest way to open an oyster I know of

Oh, we don't mess with that silly half shell stuff, that's only for presentation or if women are present. Straight from the gunny sack to the grill to the mouth. Did I mention Tabasco sauce is involved in there somewhere?

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Response to aikoaiko (Original post)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 09:30 PM

3. Barbecued Shrimp

A Paul Prudhomme Cajun recipe in which the shrimp actually are sauteed, not barbecued, in butter and oil and an array of herbs and spices. Sublime!

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Response to pinboy3niner (Reply #3)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 10:58 PM

4. Sounds deelish

Mmm

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Response to aikoaiko (Reply #4)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 11:30 PM

7. The recipe

I learned this while taking a gourmet cooking class co-taught by a Cajun shrimper and a gourmand who, at the time, was serving as a CIA intelligence analyst. I don't know how faithful it is to Prudhomme's recipe, but I've done it many times and I think it's great.

Note that the spice (principally the cayenne) is subtle, rather than biting. You won't even notice it until, half-way through a bowl, you feel a delicious warmth rise in your throat.

The recipe, which I'm re-typing here from my old xeroxed handout:



Barbecued Shrimp

1 cup butter
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons garlic, finely minced
2 bay leaves, crushed
2 teaspoons rosemary leaves, crushed
1 tablespoon paprika
3/4 tablespoon coarse black pepper
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon each of dried:
basil
oregano
salt
cayenne pepper
2 pounds large shrimp

In large, heavy skillet, heat butter and oil. Add remaining ingredients except shrimp. Cook, stirring until it comes to a boil. Cover and simmer for 7 or 8 minutes, stirring frequently.

Remove from heat and let stand 30 minutes. Remove cover and add shrimp. Cook over medium heat 6 to 8 minutes until shrimp are pink.

Place pan in a 450-degree oven and bake for 10 minutes.

Serve with French bread.

My notes: Watch heat--butter/oil mixture can burn easily. You can skip the baking step (which is for UNPEELED shrimp)--sauteeing is all that's necessary.


Enjoy!


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Response to aikoaiko (Original post)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 11:05 PM

5. I like world regional surprises that come to me

since I rarely travel.

Since the entire world has immigrated to the DC suburbs, I look for interesting variations on foreign foods that I've been eating for decades.

as a relatively new vegetarian/flexitarian, I look at old cuisines in new ways.

Our local thing is crabs, but I've done that for a long time. Old Bay Spice. The crab boil, and, ofr course, crab cakes.

I've lately found some great Lebanese dishes, though I've eaten all of them for 30 years, these are really good. Some different Chinese things I had neve seen before. Non-beef pho. Great stuff.

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Response to kwassa (Reply #5)

Fri Aug 3, 2012, 05:06 PM

26. I think my most interesting world experience was with Ethiopian food.

It was not only different in terms of taste but presentation and mechanics.

The presentation is a communal setting of little piles of chopped or minced food on a spongy flat bread. To eat the food, one tears off pieces of additional flat bread and scoops up the food of the communal setting. Tasty and fun.



Every time I'm in a big city I look for an Ethiopian place.

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Response to aikoaiko (Reply #26)

Fri Aug 3, 2012, 09:50 PM

30. I love Ethiopian food.

Unfortunately, the restaurants are concentrated down in Adams-Morgan and I live way out in the 'burbs. When I lived in LA years ago lived close to many Ethiopian restaurants.

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Response to aikoaiko (Original post)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 11:26 PM

6. There's a guy in Savannah

that has the best boiled peanuts in the world. We would get pounds and pounds of them every time we visited my wife's cousin up there.

Never had pickled tomatoes but I would eat pickled okra until I ran out or died - fortunately, so far, i've run out before I died every time.

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Response to OriginalGeek (Reply #6)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 11:35 PM

8. You're killin' me here! Love boiled peanuts and pickled okra.

I don't dislike pickled tomatoes but some are better than others.

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Response to OriginalGeek (Reply #6)

Fri Aug 3, 2012, 01:11 PM

14. Where is your Savannah boiled peanut connection?


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Response to aikoaiko (Reply #14)

Fri Aug 3, 2012, 01:55 PM

19. As best as I can recall

he has a house under the Harry S. Truman parkway where it crosses Montgomery Cross road. You'd get to it from Montgomery Cross - the expressway didn't go over his head when we first started going there lol...we haven't been back since her cousin died 7 or 8 years ago.

Also kind of near there is a fantastic restaurant called Sweet Potatoes on Waters Ave. Cousin James would always laugh at me because the first time we went there I didn't want to go (I HATE sweet potatoes so the name put me off) but our other choice was closed so we went and it is now one of my all time favorite restaurants anywhere. There are a few standard items every day and then whatever the chef sees at the market that morning that strikes his fancy. Pork chops with peach BBQ sauce, blackened, grilled meatloaf slices as big as a bible, roasted Brussels sprouts that make me want to get in my car right now and go get some. And on the way back to James' house stop off at the peanut man...

I need to talk to the wife about planning a weekend up there real soon...

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Response to OriginalGeek (Reply #19)

Fri Aug 3, 2012, 01:57 PM

20. I've been there. He does a good job with them.



I like Sweet Potatoes too. I get the calf's liver.

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Response to aikoaiko (Original post)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 11:46 PM

9. The south, the south

Boudin. I'm generally wary of sausage products but slap some of that on a saltine cracker with some hot sauce, dang delicious!

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Response to ecaramil (Reply #9)

Sun Aug 5, 2012, 12:25 AM

43. Moving to the South for grad school was an eye-opening and palate-broadening

experience. I learned to just say 'Yes!' to everything, and order whatever I didn't recognize on the menu, and I don't think I ever went wrong...

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Response to aikoaiko (Original post)

Fri Aug 3, 2012, 11:49 AM

10. Deviled SPAM

 

Just kidding. That was (might still be) an actual Hormel product.

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Response to HopeHoops (Reply #10)

Sat Aug 4, 2012, 11:04 PM

39. It's "SPAM Spread" now

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Response to jmowreader (Reply #39)

Sun Aug 5, 2012, 09:50 AM

49. But everything in the universe, including SPAM, is just a manifestation of the underlying Velveeta.

 

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Response to aikoaiko (Original post)

Fri Aug 3, 2012, 12:36 PM

12. I'm from Savannah and could direct you to some damn good nuts

(ok, that sounds funny)

It's called Davis Produce and it's on Hwy 80 as you head to the beach.

I havent been home in more than a year and need to get back for some good food.

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Response to NightWatcher (Reply #12)

Fri Aug 3, 2012, 01:10 PM

13. I just moved to that island and I'm stopping there this afternoon on your rec.


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Response to aikoaiko (Reply #13)

Fri Aug 3, 2012, 01:23 PM

15. be sure to visit the Breakfast Club on Tybee for some GOOOOOD food too

I like the Blackhawk Breakfast Burrito

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Response to aikoaiko (Original post)

Fri Aug 3, 2012, 01:29 PM

16. St Louis has a few local items that I dearly love.

Who knew? I married a man from the Illinois side of the river and he and his family have turned me on to some mighty fine stuff over the years. Have you ever had Gooey Butter Cake? It is a morning item--think coffee cake kind of fare-- and done right it lives up to the promise of its name. It's long on dietary sin but it is oh so amazing in the mouth! It is chewy, buttery, sugary goodness that is rich beyond description.

Another local favorite there is toasted ravioli. They make their own, fill it with meats or cheeses and then bread it and toast it. Plain or dipped in marinara sauce it is an appetizer that you really need to order more than one of if you plan to share.


I grew up on a diet chock full of German/American based cooking and I was delighted to go down to the inlaws and find out that the local bakeries there are also very good with Stollens (Can be kind of like a fruit cake--only better--or it's made with nuts only--almonds, for instance) and Kuchen (German pastries.) Evidently, they have had a fairly active German presence in that area for quite a while, because the local foodies all seem pretty conversant in recipes that only the old German grannies were teaching back where I grew up.



Laura

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Response to davsand (Reply #16)

Fri Aug 3, 2012, 05:21 PM

27. next time I go to St. Louis I will search for Gooey Butter Cake. Sounds good.


I come from German, Polish, Russian ancestry and love that food too.

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Response to aikoaiko (Original post)

Fri Aug 3, 2012, 01:46 PM

17. I live in northwest Georgia just outside of Atlanta.

I have eaten boiled peanuts. Not thrilled with them as I do not care for peanuts, only cashews. And I have never heard of pickled green tomatoes. I will keep an eye out, as I would like to try them. I'll check the local supermarket.

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Response to aikoaiko (Original post)

Fri Aug 3, 2012, 01:47 PM

18. Sourdough!

Tri-tip (beef). I also hear good things about Dungeness crab. May have to try some this winter.

Bay Area, of course.

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Response to KamaAina (Reply #18)

Fri Aug 3, 2012, 01:59 PM

21. I really was impressed with SF sourdough.

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Response to KamaAina (Reply #18)

Sat Aug 4, 2012, 12:01 PM

37. I grew up with Dungeness crab....

Actually remember complaining, as a child, about having salmon and crab "AGAIN" at mealtimes.
God, we had it so good and did not know it.

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Response to aikoaiko (Original post)

Fri Aug 3, 2012, 02:06 PM

22. Here's another one -- this time from NH -- fiddleheads.


Fiddleheads are baby ferns that haven't unfolded yet. They aren't really farmed but harvested from the wild wetlands in NH (and similar places).

These taste a little bit like asparagus and spinach. Sauteed in butter they are a nice change of pace.



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Response to aikoaiko (Original post)

Fri Aug 3, 2012, 02:27 PM

23. I live in AZ.

We have Mexican food. And prickly pear jelly.

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Response to Wait Wut (Reply #23)

Fri Aug 3, 2012, 02:40 PM

24. I lived in northern AZ for a while and y'all have Navajo Tacos there.

OMG!!!!! I need one.



frybread, beans, slow cooked meat, lettuce, green onions, sourcream, salsa, and misc spices.

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Response to aikoaiko (Reply #24)

Fri Aug 3, 2012, 03:12 PM

25. You said taco.

It's Nat. Amer. Mexican food. We also have something called Southwestern Tacos. Still Mexican food. With all the hatred AZ has for brown people, they sure do love their food.

Oh, and there's a "Hawaiian" restaurant not far from me that serves...Hawaiian Tacos.

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Response to Wait Wut (Reply #25)

Mon Aug 6, 2012, 03:22 AM

57. The local "Hawaiian" restaurant here seems to mostly serve Chinese food

And for the "local" menu, it's Mahi Mahi and shrimp. Considering I live in southern NM, neither of those can be called "local." At least the Mahi Mahi is local to Hawaii...

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Response to Wait Wut (Reply #23)

Sun Aug 5, 2012, 09:43 AM

47. I was introduced to guacamole on my first trip to AZ.

I was 14, I think. It looked awful to me, and I didn't want to try it. But, my great aunt twisted my arm a little, and I am glad she did. It and avocados are one of my most favorite foods in the world. I love prickly pear jelly, too.

You also have chimichangas. They were invented in Phoenix, as I understand it.

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Response to aikoaiko (Original post)

Fri Aug 3, 2012, 06:20 PM

28. I used to travel internationally all over the world. First thing I'd do is find

a restaurant and tell them I wanted local food. It was wonderful, except for the fish stomachs in Hong Kong.

Amazing what culinary delights await if you can put aside the desire for a hamburger.

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Response to aikoaiko (Original post)

Fri Aug 3, 2012, 06:54 PM

29. Fla. Fried green tomatoes and boiled peanuts. n/t

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Response to IBEWVET (Reply #29)

Sat Aug 4, 2012, 11:14 AM

34. Tasty southern treats for sure.

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Response to aikoaiko (Original post)

Fri Aug 3, 2012, 09:58 PM

31. Kosher Burrito

the mash-up that is food in Los Angeles.

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Response to kwassa (Reply #31)

Sat Aug 4, 2012, 11:20 AM

35. I will definately try it if I ever get to LA.



Sounds great.

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Response to aikoaiko (Original post)

Sat Aug 4, 2012, 12:21 AM

32. Sheep lungs

The Greeks call it magiritsa, British say Pluck. It shimmers greenly, sometimes tinged with pink, but always unpleasant.


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Response to aikoaiko (Original post)

Sat Aug 4, 2012, 10:26 AM

33. I work with people from ALL over North America.

And typically being in the WVA, VA, NC, SC area, and on the road, at times we got to stop and get something to eat. I have enjoyed "exposing" some of these folks to regional food.

Like some REAL, Lexington style BBQ...



And of course, some Cheerwine to wash it down with..



And if we are in a hurry, it is a "good" hotdog, all the way....Which down here means mustard, onions, chili, and COLE SLAW... Relishes, are only available at some places, and then only on request. Hotdogs, prepared this way are very common from central WVA to the Gulf of Mexico. Actully, till I was 17 I thought everyone had their dogs' this way.



For myself, discovering Chinese, and Mexican food, has been a REAL treat. I pretty much like most of it.

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Response to virginia mountainman (Reply #33)

Sat Aug 4, 2012, 11:24 AM

36. I'm with you on the lex bbq and cheerwine.

I love my dogs with either spicy brown mustard or saurkraut. Nothing else pleases me.

I have to admit that the dog does look tasty.


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Response to aikoaiko (Reply #36)

Sat Aug 4, 2012, 09:16 PM

38. O yes it IS tasty...

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Response to aikoaiko (Original post)

Sat Aug 4, 2012, 11:53 PM

40. Taco trucks in LA.

I'd lived in Chicago before then, and they have lots of great mexican food there, but nothing like the taco truck. I became a big taco truck fan. Even better is the taco stand; the closer to the street, the better the meat, as they say (ok, they don't say that, but they could).

In the Czech Republic, I love to have some fried cheese. If you stop thinking about how disgusting it is to bread a hunk of cheese, fry it, and serve it with tartar sauce, it's delicious.

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Response to harmonicon (Reply #40)

Sun Aug 5, 2012, 12:04 AM

41. Another treat to remember should I visit LA.


I have to admit that I slummed around Cuernavaca Mexico for a summer and would walk the streets hitting up street side taco vendors. OMFG I've never had tacos as good.

Plus the coconut guys were an added treat. They slice the top off a coconut and let you drink the milk. When that was done they'd cut the coconut in half, carve out the tender coconut meat into one half of the coconut like a bowl, and then season it with lime and cayenne pepper. Again, OMFG.


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Response to aikoaiko (Original post)

Sun Aug 5, 2012, 12:21 AM

42. Have you ever tried chow chow?

There are a lot of varieties, but the one my mother made had chopped green tomatoes, onions, and hot peppers, cooked in sugar, vinegar, and a bag of pickling spices. Hot and sweet, we always ate it with pinto beans. We always made this in the fall--right before the first hard freeze killed the tomato plants, we picked all the green tomatoes and cooked them into chow chow.

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Response to susanr516 (Reply #42)

Sun Aug 5, 2012, 01:29 AM

44. Wow. No and I haven't heard of this. What region of the US?


It sounds really good.

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Response to aikoaiko (Reply #44)

Sun Aug 5, 2012, 07:20 AM

45. Chow chow. Good stuff.

My grandmothers made it when I grew up in NE GA. Lived all over and don't recall seeing it outside the South, but I wasn't necessarily looking for it either.

I have a jar of commercial chow chow in my fridge right now, purchased at Publix in Atlanta (found among the pickles and relishes if any of your markets stock it).


If I may make a suggestion, when you stop for boiled peanuts (another favorite of mine) you might inquire about chow chow.


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Response to cordelia (Reply #45)

Sun Aug 5, 2012, 09:55 AM

50. I always thought that was Pennsylvania Dutch!

Not a fan, but I always see it on menus out in Lancaster.

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Response to Patiod (Reply #50)

Sun Aug 5, 2012, 10:32 PM

55. That's interesting. My family spent some time in PA

before moving on to GA through VA and SC many many years ago.

I think that adds another layer of interest.

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Response to cordelia (Reply #45)

Sun Aug 5, 2012, 09:59 AM

51. I second your suggestion on the chow chow.

As far as commercial brands go, Mrs. Campbell's is pretty good. I prefer the "hot". You can buy it online if you can't find it at the grocery store:

http://www.goldenharvestpantry.com/catalog_c372323.html

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Response to aikoaiko (Reply #44)

Sun Aug 5, 2012, 10:26 PM

54. It's a southern recipe

Although I'm a fifth-generation native Texan, my family came here from the South.

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Response to susanr516 (Reply #42)

Mon Aug 6, 2012, 05:03 AM

58. Oh I love chow chow!

I have some in a jar in my fridge right now.

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Response to aikoaiko (Original post)

Sun Aug 5, 2012, 09:34 AM

46. Shrimp and grits

I love them both separately. I thought it odd to put them together, but they are a perfect pair!

I had the same reaction to the thought of boiled peanuts, too. And, the same reaction when I tried them. I love 'em! Cheerwine, on the other hand...I think it is vile. I am not a big fan of carbonated water with excessive amounts of artificial cherry flavoring in it.

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Response to GoCubsGo (Reply #46)

Sun Aug 5, 2012, 09:46 AM

48. When I interviewed for my job back in the 1990s, my boss to be ordered me shrimp and grits.



Coming from New England I was a little put off at the combination, but I realized I was being tested. It turned out I found the dish wonderful and I'm now a bit of snob about shrimp and grits. LOL.

There is a restaurant called Uncle Bubba's that serves my favorite version of shrimp and grits.

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Response to aikoaiko (Original post)

Sun Aug 5, 2012, 10:11 AM

52. Everyone's "adopted" Buffalo Wings as their own

But we've still got Roast Beef on Kummelweck.

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Response to aikoaiko (Original post)

Sun Aug 5, 2012, 10:24 AM

53. Wild rice soup

Recipes vary around Minnesota, and it is worth sampling them all.

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Response to Generic Brad (Reply #53)

Sun Aug 5, 2012, 10:35 PM

56. I dated someone from Minnesota and she never made this for me.


No wonder our relationship failed. LOL.

I'll be on the look out for it when I travel to MN.

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Response to aikoaiko (Original post)

Mon Aug 6, 2012, 07:12 AM

59. As an American who moved to the UK...black pudding

which is actually quite tasty. And overall British food is much better than its reputation.

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Response to Spider Jerusalem (Reply #59)

Mon Aug 6, 2012, 08:25 AM

60. I just looked it up. Black pudding is a blood sausage, yes?


I think I've had something similar in polish cuisine called keeshka (phonetically).






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