10 proud American foods you may not have heard of

By 02.26.14
American food

Dana McMahan, Flickr

The great but relatively young country of America is a place that has inherited cuisine from all over the world and transformed it into its own. All across the United States, we love our burgers, wings, pizza and Americanized Chinese food, but what about strange & tasty regional ingredients, dishes and cuisines in the USA? The fact that foreigners come here and think American foods begin and
end with burgers breaks my heart, so here are a small handful of proud American foods that most probably aren’t even aware of.

10. Liver Mush

Popular in parts of North Carolina and the Appalachia Mountains, this stuff is made of pork liver and meat from the pig’s head; it’s ground into a mush and cooked into a loaf. It tastes like fried liverwurst and is often eaten in a sandwich with mustard, mayonnaise or even just grape jelly (a take on pate with fruit spread that is popular in Europe).

9. Turtle Soup

Though turtle soup is made in various places around the world and in a few parts of the United States, it is a revered dish among Creole communities, especially in New Orleans. Today it’s a specialty of fine restaurants and is made with butter, flour, turtle meat, onion, celery, green onion, garlic, tomato, beef stock, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, sherry and a boatload of other herbs and spices.

8. Hoppin’ Jon

This is a popular side dish in parts of the South. It’s made with black-eyed peas, rice, onion, spices and either bacon, ham hock or fatback. Other variations have peppers or vinegar.

7. Tri-tip Barbecue


Justin Hall, Flickr

BBQ isn’t all brisket, ribs, chicken and pulled pork; Tri-tip has been a staple of California BBQ since Mexicans cooked beef in pits in the mid 19th century. Tri-tip is a cut of beef that is often rubbed with salt, pepper, garlic and other seasonings and then grilled over red oak wood and served sliced, medium-rare with a tomato-based BBQ sauce. The Santa Maria area is the most famous for this.

6. Scrapple

Parts of New England, Delaware and especially Maryland love their Scrapple. This nasty sounding, and sometimes nasty looking loaf of pork scraps and trimmings with cornmeal, spices and wheat flour is surprisingly versatile. It can be pan-fried, deep-fried or broiled and is usually eaten as a breakfast side dish in lieu of sausage or bacon. It can also be served plain, or in a sandwich with condiments like ketchup, maple syrup, mustard or jelly.

5. Mission Burrito

The Mission-style burrito became popular in the Mission District of San Francisco, California in the 60’s. Mission burritos are typically larger and filled with a wider variety of ingredients as compared to Tex-Mex and Mexican burritos.

4. Seafood Boil


Ty Nigh, Flickr

This is a generic term for social eating events in which shellfish is the central element of the meal. There are many regional variations on this. For example, in the Chesapeake Bay area, blue crab, oysters and clams are served, while in Louisiana and other areas of the Gulf Coast it’s shrimp, crab and crawfish. Seafood boils are often accompanied by big crowds and/or live music and the food is typically spread out casually on a tableclothed table for everyone to help themselves to. This is an event-class meal, indeed. Typically side dishes are corn on the cob, cole slaw and potatoes.

3. Jibarito

The Jibarito is an original Chicago sandwich creation that was created by Puerto Rican immigrants not long ago. Instead of bread, fried green plantains are used. These crispy, starchy slices of makeshift bread are slathered with garlic mayo and then stuffed full of meat (sliced steak, chicken or pork), cheese, lettuce and tomatoes.

2. Poke

Poke is a simple dish with simple flavors. Typically, it is cubed, raw yellowfin tuna sashimi that has been marinated with a mix of sea salt, soy sauce, sesame oil, chili pepper and other ingredients. This dish is healthy, flavorful and showcases Hawaii’s link to Japanese and other Asian cuisine.

1. Ham Hocks

This part of the pig was considered a cheap “throwaway” cut of meat due to its tough skin, tendons and ligaments. Whether it’s smoked or boiled, braised or stewed, it must be cooked low and slow to break down all the connective tissue and showcase its incredible flavor. It is often served over greens or in a flavorful sauce and is a staple of Soul Food cooking.

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