To celebrate this year of the Olympics and a presidential election, Cooking Channel asked fans what dishes represent their states and then worked with our kitchens to create original recipes for each of the 50 states. (Read all about the project here.) Each state has its own unique food scene, but we couldn’t help but notice some trends across the map from coast to coast.
Every state has its iconic dish that stirs up all kinds of pride. It sparks countless arguments over where to get the ultimate version, whose grandma’s recipe is better or what ingredients are completely sacrilegious to the original. Even the way you serve and eat the dish can separate true locals from pretenders.
To represent my home state of Maryland, Cooking Channel fans were 100 percent accurate in nominating Old Bay steamed blue crabs. Every summer growing up, my family would drive an hour and a half just for dinner on the Chesapeake Bay’s eastern shore, where we’d feast on crabs at a dockside place with rustic picnic tables covered in butcher paper (the only way hard-shell crabs should be served).
Before I could even read and write, I was skilled at extracting crabmeat with a small wooden mallet and a plastic knife. As my Louisiana-native husband learned the hard way early on in our relationship, no self-respecting Marylander uses metal lobster crackers for crabs. And if you leave a crab feast and don’t reek of Old Bay seasoning, you’ve done something terribly wrong.
All along the East Coast, locals have similar allegiances to their own prized seafood. In Maine, it’s all about lobster and the one dish that could rival a simply steamed one is the lobster roll. In the name of authenticity, Ben Sargent’s version skips the seasonings and celery, letting the fresh lobster flavor shine through.
Massachusetts natives are serious about their “chowdah,” and our creamy milk-based version is filled with chunks of potato, bacon and plenty of fresh clams and topped, of course, with oyster crackers. According to folks from Connecticut, New Haven-style white clam pizza simply can’t be replicated correctly outside the state, but we tried our best to develop a recipe that gives a taste of Sally’s and Frank Pepe’s at home.
No matter where you live, get a taste of East Coast seafood with our recipes for these state classics. Check out what the other 46 states are bringing to the party, too.
Love these state dishes? Browse America’s best foods and more seafood recipes: