After getting schooled a little in this form on what "fish dip," was, it occurred to me that most of us know of a dish or two that is unique to their home town, or that originated there.  Of perhaps a more common food that goes by an unusual name?  Like fish dip!

In our area there is the half-smoke, a kind of hybrid between a frankfurter and a smoked sausage, originally produced in DC.  And Baltimore pit beef, which sounds like BBQ, but isn't.  It's actually cooked hot and fast and sliced up thin for sandwiches.  Pretty damned good when done right, and downright awful when not.

Whatcha got?


Original Post

Great topic.

In Detroit, where I was a kid, they have "Coney Islands", which are hot dogs in steamed buns with some really bad chili on them, topped with plenty of onions and some mustard. You get a few of them to go. Many years ago there was a Greek immigrant who stopped in Brooklyn on his way to Detroit, saw the island, and when he got to Detroit he named his creation after it. You "greeze" on some of those. Next morning you can bottle the gas. Used to be you had to go downtown to get them, but now they're all over the Detroit area.

And they have Buddy's Pizza, which has now become a thing. Back in the 1940s, Buddy's was a neighborhood bar in a blue collar area of the City, destined to become a really rough area a few decades later. The owner was a guy named Gus. He wanted to have snacks for the guys who came in but didn't have a lot of money for equipment and such. A buddy, literally, worked in one of the auto plants and brought him a bunch of metal trays. They're made from heavy steel and they were used to store screws, nuts, etc. Very heavy duty and thick steel.

He didn't know much about pizza because at the time, pizza was just an east coast thing you only found in Italian neighborhoods, but being Italian, he did know about focaccia and tomatoes and cheese. So he kind of put them together. He made it up himself, putting some dough into one of those heavy pans, loading up the toppings, laying on the cheese, and finally pouring on some tomato sauce. Pretty much exactly the opposite of the way they put toppings on in NYC and elsewhere. He didn't worry about mozzarella or pretend that pizza was actually originated in Naples and used mozzarella and basil because those myths hadn't been established yet. So he used some cheese from Wisconsin that was similar to a Monterey Jack. He loaded the pizza with cheese right to the edges of the pan.

The crust isn't anything like you get in a Neapolitan or NY pizza place either. It's not chewy at all. When it's baked, the grease from the cheese overflows into the pan, which makes the dough extra crispy on the edges. People liked the stuff and a competitor, running a bar named Shield's, noticed so he started offering the same thing. Those two founded what is now considered "Detroit" style pizza. It's not like a Chicago pizza or Sicilian pizza because it's greasier, the crust is crispy and not doughy, and the layering of the toppings is reversed. When I was younger we'd drive to the originals for the stuff but usually went to Shields because it was cleaner and closer than Buddy's.

Much later, in the 1960s, a Yugoslavian guy named Mike Ilitch opened a pizza place, thinking that pizza might be a new take-out to compete with hamburgers and the ubiquitous "broasted chicken" places. His place did OK and he wanted to open another few places, but his partner didn't want to expand. So the partner kept the original and Ilitch went out on his own. He came up with a new name: Little Caesar's. The first shop was pretty near our house and I remember the first time my Dad ordered one of those. A bunch of neighbors came by to check it out. They thought this pizza thing was pretty cool. And truth is, the original Little Caesar's actually used real ingredients. It wasn't far from the first K-Mart either, which was an experiment that Kresge's wanted to try out.

Last thing is something I know nobody else has. In fact, Detroit doesn't have it any more either, but they did. And it doesn't get more hometown.

Used to be if you were Catholic you didn't eat meat on Friday. But a few enterprising souls liked their meat and over a few beers and detailed analysis of canonical law, came up with a work-around. There was a place called the Polish Yacht Club, which was in an area called Delray, which ironically, was mostly Hungarian. Anyhow they figured out that since muskrats live in and around water, arguably they could be considered fish.

So they went on the menu on Fridays.

For $2.50 you got half a roasted muskrat, an order of fries, and a scoop of cole slaw. Beer was an extra buck. Of course I had to head over with some friends to try this delicacy. The guys would trap, catch, and clean the muskrats during the week and the ladies in the kitchen would parboil them in the morning on Friday and then slow roast them. They came on your plate looking pretty much like half a rat cut lengthwise down the middle. This became a kind of underground thing for those "in the know".

But eventually word got to the health authorities, who said you couldn't just go out and catch muskrats in the ditch and serve them up. Even though they were parboiled and roasted, they didn't meet all the proper requirements. A shame.


Rochester NY

White hot dogs.  Veal and pork The white hot is a variation on the hot dog found primarily in the Rochester, New York area, as well as other parts of Western New York and Central New York. It is composed of a combination of uncured and unsmoked pork, beef, and veal; the lack of smoking or curing allows the meat to retain a naturally white color.

Garbage Plate -[Nick Tahou] At local dive that was great to have when out drinking. They consist of a foundation of baked beans and/or macaroni salad with either home fries or French fries. On top, a choice of two: cheeseburger, hamburger, red hots, white hots, Italian sausage, chicken tender, haddock, fried ham, grilled cheese, or eggs.

I'm trying to think for South Florida.   Besides the Fish Dip that's already been discussed, I can only think of a few:

1.  Grouper dogs - a local treat at the Sailfish Marina on Singer Island.  A hot dog bun filled with fried grouper, topped with lemon juice and tartar sauce.  Get a couple of these with a bottle of beer on a Thursday night, walk around the docks of the marina, check out and feed the huge amberjacks under the docks, watch the sunset.  Paradise.

2.  Fried alligator - usually on a restaurant menu as an appetizer.  Tastes like fried chicken.  More a novelty than anything else.

3.  Iguana - an up and coming food source in South Florida.  Apparently some people eat them, and the local news recently discussed the most humane way to kill them (a single blow to the head).  You see these non-native guys hanging out near the roads in the grass, and some of them are pretty darn big!  They don't like the cold weather, so if we get a cold snap this winter it may kill off a lot of them.  Best story I heard was from a few years back when we had a couple of days of cold weather.  The iguanas were falling out of the trees and laying on the ground like they were dead.  Some guy drove around in a station wagon, picking up all the bodies to take home for food.  Well, they warmed up in the car and went haywire in the back of the station wagon - must have been a fun drive home!

4.  Stone crab - a local delicacy.  If you haven't been to Joe's Stone Crab in Miami, you need to go there the next time you are down there.  Although make sure they are in season, as previously frozen stone crab isn't nearly as good.  A self sustaining food source, as the fishermen remove the claws and toss the crab back into the water to grow new ones.

5.  Key Lime pie - it's everywhere down here, and its almost always good.

6.  Lion Fish - the scourge of our local reefs, some restaurants are starting to put it on their menus from time to time.  The more they catch and kill, the better.

Some of you other South Floridians must have a few ideas as well.  I thought about some of our Cuban or Latin cuisines - a Cuban sandwich is apparently a U.S. invention, not a real Cuban dish.

Nice post, Rothko.  Thanks!  Mmmm.... iguana.

Another DC food item is this stuff called Mumbo Sauce.  Used to only see it at local dive eateries and carryouts.  It's kind of booming recently, and I'm seeing variations in local restaurants and more upscale eateries.   Kind of a blend of plum sauce and BBQ sauce.  Not a huge fan, personally, but I've had versions that were OK.


I don't really have much from my places:

Central PA - my earliest years - Scrapple I guess - but most people know what that is I think

I don't recall anything particularly unique from Alabama - BBQ of course 

From Florida - Conch Chowder is very common and I think not really prevalent too many other places

In Key West - cheese toast - its just melted cheese on Cuban bread but literally every single place has it for breakfast especially the Cuban places

Buchi - its just espresso but super concentrated - never heard it called that anywhere but Key West

Stone crab is my favorite delicacy in South Florida - 

Scrapple... definitely a PA thing, in my mind anyway.  I had my first in Manheim, PA decades ago.  The guy I was with recommended it, but strongly cautioned me to ask for it a little burnt.  As with Spam, the only way I can eat Scrapple is well charred.

Conch Chowder - I guess you gotta live south enough to have fresh conch.  Had my first on Cat Island, Bahamas.  Have had it whenever I can since.  A good one can be really special.

Stone Crab.  +1  There's a Joe's in DC now. Have you been?

Waiting to hear from the north-of-the-border gang.  You guys have a plethora of unique foods up there.  Chime in hosers!


"And, GregT... I call bullshit on the muskrat." 


And apparently it's still happening:

"Local Catholics can eat muskrat “on days of abstinence, including Fridays of Lent,” according to the Archdiocese of Detroit. The custom dates to the region’s missionary history in the 1700s and is especially prevalent in communities along the Detroit River."

Garlic Fries  The generally accepted legend is that  Dan Gordon and Dean Biersch invented them.  The original restaurant is now called Gordon's and I had a pretty good beer there yesterday afternoon waiting for the train.

Cioppino - Do a search here to see me rant over the years about people recommending Italian wine to go with it.  I list it here because it's the dish people associate with the Bay Area but always think it came from somewhere else.

Really every American-Chinese dish was invented in the Bay Area, and a thousand other things but those two I think people think came from somewhere else.

I did think of Northern New Mexico though.

Pinon Nuts - The kind that don't kill your taste buds for 6 months, roasted in the shell.

Empanada's are ubiquitous through out Latin America but only in New Mexico have I ever had them as a fruit filled dessert.  The altitude and using butter instead of lard makes the dough fluffy like a croissant  instead of heavy like every other one I've had.

Sopapillas - Butter and altitude again.  My Aunt Alice has said she's tried to make them all over the world and they only come out right above 7000 feet.  If you've had the little hard crusty dough bombs at a restaurant, that's not even close to what they are like in New Mexico.

"Fish tacos- seem to have spread a bit..."

A bit? It's now everywhere. Many (most?) fish restaurants seem to have some version on their menus. It's got to be SD's number one culinary contribution to the national food scene. Too bad its first SD popularizer, Rubio's, has sucked for many years since it went public.

csm posted:
jcocktosten posted:


I don't recall anything particularly unique from Alabama - BBQ of course 


White sauce is unique to Alabama I think.  

1. It is gross

2. From Northern Alabama, where I am not from

3.  Most of Alabama uses tomato/vinegar/spicy sauce


gregt posted:

"And, GregT... I call bullshit on the muskrat." 


And apparently it's still happening:

"Local Catholics can eat muskrat “on days of abstinence, including Fridays of Lent,” according to the Archdiocese of Detroit. The custom dates to the region’s missionary history in the 1700s and is especially prevalent in communities along the Detroit River."

Should have Googled it before casting aspersions.  Apologies!  How was it?


E3E34507-AB1F-43DF-8730-A52E6630216Awinedrmike posted:
bomba503 posted:
winedrmike posted:

Jersey shore-  Italian hot dogs, funnel cake, salt water taffy, and of course Taylor ham 

No!!! Pork Roll!!!

No... Taylor ham!!!

you miss it, don't you Bomba.

Sorry but it says Taylor Pork Roll right on the package


Guess ya gotta be from Jersey to appreciate this long running dispute that is roughly divided along the Eagles vs Giants boundary


Photos (1)
purplehaze posted:
gregt posted:

"And, GregT... I call bullshit on the muskrat." 


And apparently it's still happening:

"Local Catholics can eat muskrat “on days of abstinence, including Fridays of Lent,” according to the Archdiocese of Detroit. The custom dates to the region’s missionary history in the 1700s and is especially prevalent in communities along the Detroit River."

Should have Googled it before casting aspersions.  Apologies!  How was it?


Not something you'd fly to Detroit for.  After being parboiled and roasted it was stringy dark meat like an overcooked pot roast. The waitress wrote on the bill "2 rats".

With plenty of beer and hot sauce it's OK.

I went to grad school in Bloomington, Indiana. They had something there that I thought was pretty gross.

Chili over macaroni.

I was eating my chili and lo and behold it was loaded with macaroni. I called the waitress over and asked WTF.

"Bobby Knight likes macaroni in his chili," she said. He was coaching there at the time and the town pretty much worshipped him. Everyone served it that way.

Add Reply

Likes (0)