Ten Iconic Foods To Eat In The United States

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Ten Iconic Foods To Eat In The United States

“Nobody seems more obsessed by diet than our anti-materialistic, otherworldly, New Age spiritual types. But if the material world is merely illusion, an honest guru should be as content with a  Budweiser and bratwurst as with raw carrot juice, tofu and seaweed slime.” Edward Abbey  

Nearly every major state in the US has their great culinary specialties. I don’t plan my trips around a specific food item but I definitely include it in my itinerary. Here is a list of some must eat foods in America. They are in no particular order. I have tried some and I will try the others when I get there. 

 Lobster Roll, Maine

Half the fun of eating a lobster roll in Maine is the bun filed with butter or mayo and lobster, the other half is eating it somewhere that you can smell the sea. My first Maine “lobstah” roll was in Portland’s Old Port district, where cobblestone streets are lined with 19th-century brick buildings housing restaurants and boutiques. The restaurant was a hip spin on a seafood shack, with indoor picnic tables. You can get a lobster roll in Maine in both Mcdonalds and  7-11. I eat lobster for breakfast, lunch and dinner in Maine and it is always great. 

Beignet, New Orleans, Louisiana

Beignets are pillows of fried dough covered in a mound of powdered sugar. Don’t breathe in when you take your first bite or the sugar goes into your lungs making you cough. Cafe Du Monde is the iconic beignet establishment serving them since 1862,  Exploring the city, you are never far from a hot beignet if the low blood sugar feeling strikes. 

 Copper River Salmon, Washington

Copper River salmon is prized for its bright color and fatty meat and is said to be the best salmon in the world, Sockeye and King filets sell out quickly. It is available fresh from mid May to the end of September and comes from Alaska. If you are lucky enough to be in Seattle in the summer, you can eat it in many restaurants.  It is the best salmon you will ever eat. The fishmongers at Pike’s Place market in Seattle throw the fish around, which started as a way to save time and ended up as a tourist attraction. 

 

Key Lime Pie, Florida

The Florida Keys are iconic for many reasons. Hemingway fished there, the Beach Boys wrote songs there and it is still the best place in the world for Key Lime Pie. Key limes are smaller than the traditional limes sold in grocery stores. The fruit is yellow and usually just fall off the trees when they are ripe.  Add  sugar, carnation milk and aa graham cracker crust and you have the traditional pie.   Just about every restaurant in Key West serves one. 

Deep Dish Pizza, Chicago, Illinois

At three times the height of a New York style pie, Chicago’s deep dish pizza can be intimidating for those who are accustomed to thin-crust pizza. The crust is lighter than it looks followed by a cheese layer and topped with a chunky tomato sauce. Any toppings are contained within. I am a pizza fan and I did love this pizza when I lived in Chicago. 

King Crab, Alaska

 Alaska is America’s “Last frontier” known for its bitter winters and natural beauty. Seafood is a specialty in Alaska but Alaskan King Crab is the most sought after meal. I like it the old school way – boiled with a side of drawn butter and maybe  a few lemon wedges. Many of Anchorage’s best restaurants serve it this way. 

Hoagie, Philadelphia

The Bf is from “Philly” and he says the food doesn’t get more iconic than a hoagie. It was declared the official sandwich of Philadelphia in 1992. The hoagie is a built-to-order sandwich on a long Italian roll, typically filled with deli meat and cheese, garnished with fresh lettuce, tomatoes and onions, and finished with a drizzle of oregano-vinegar dressing. it is never heated or toasted.

Barbecue, Texas

I feel like I’m going to be intimidated the first time I walk into a Texas barbecue joint.  First of ail it will be my first time Texas and it’s food you have to eat with your hands. I also feel that people who eat Texas barbecue are able to consume a lot of meat. I’m definitely going to look for a place with a line of people around it and the aroma of wood smoked meat. I will have to ask them what to order and definitely try the sides which could be fried okra or salad with ranch styles dressing. Hopefully I will be on line next to someone who has eaten there before.

Crabcakes, Maryland

Baltimore and the surrounding Chesapeake Bay area are known for serving exemplary crab cakes. The ideal crab cake according to those who know, should have no visible evidence of breading, not be perfectly formed and contain as much pure sweat crabmeat as possible. Asking for the best restaurant for crab cakes in Baltimore is like asking New Yorkers for the best pizza, you are bound to get a lot of passionate recommendations. 

 Fry Bread, Wyoming

Fry bread is the history of the Native American population.The United States forced Indians living in Arizona to make the 300-mile journey known as the “Long Walk” and relocate to New Mexico, onto land that couldn’t easily support their traditional staples of vegetables and beans. To prevent them from  starving, the government gave them canned goods as well as white flour, processed sugar and lard—the makings of fry bread. Fry bread ( like Jewish matzoh) is the food of survival. Eating fry bread would mean that I was in Wyoming for the first time and learning about Native American culture.

Stay safe,

JAZ 

Ten Not Tourist Things To Do In LA On A Sunday

Ten Not Tourist Things To Do In LA On A Sunday

The worst thing about being a tourist is having other tourists recognize you as a tourist.” Russell Baker

I love reading these lists about countries I am visiting and hope you will find this one helpful.

Venice Beach and Abbot Kinney

Venice of America” was created as a beach resort in 1905. The first grounds came complete with an aquarium, bath houses, and an amusement park. Developers dug several canals to drain the marshes. As the infrastructure and buildings crumbled in the 1950’s, the odd characters and artists found their way in. That mentality continued to the present, making Venice a melting pot of cultures, art and attitudes. The path and boardwalk along the beach with is vendors, restaurants, street performers, weightlifters, artists, tattoo artists, skaters, bikers and graffiti art make it great for people watching.

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Abbot Kinney is one of the trendiest streets in LA right now. The downside is the overabundance of hipsters and horrible parking. It’s great to hang out, eat and shop. My favorite Abbot Kinney restaurants are Gjelina (http://www.gjelina.com) and The Tasting Kitchen (http://www.thetastingkitchen.com)

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LACMA and La Brea.

Since they redid LACMA, (LA County Museum of Art http://www.lacma.org) several years ago, it is a cool, interesting space to spend a Sunday. Catch the latest exhibit, collection, film, or do a family activity with the kids. Sit in the courtyard and have a drink or coffee and plan your visit. I like to have brunch at one of the La Brea restaurants, Republique (http://republiquela.com) or The Sycamore Kitchen (http://thesycamorekitchen.com). If you are a mall person The Grove (http://www.thegrovela.com) is nearby as well.

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Rose Bowl Flea Market In Pasadena

The super gigantic Rose Bowl Flea Market takes place rain or shine on the second Sunday of each month at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena. There is a plethora of vintage items and vendors. It is great for people watching – the hip, the beautiful, the cool and the very strange are all shopping for that perfect find. I think the days of finding something really valuable are probably over but it is definitely the place where LA hipsters go to furnish their living spaces. It’s funny to see people grabbing things you grew up with and wondering if you shouldn’t have given them away back then. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

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Ride Your Bike From Santa Monica To Manhattan Beach .

The bike path runs along the Pacific Ocean from Pacific Palisades to Torrance. It is 22 miles (35 kilometers) long. It’s good to pick it up in Santa Monica and ride through Venice, Marina Del Rey and Playa Del Rey. Manhattan Beach is the quintessential LA beach town.  It is what you expect a California beach community to look like when you move from the East Coast. The Beach Boys hung out here when they were young and it is credited to be the birthplace of beach volleyball ( now an Olympic sport). They have some really good restaurants. I like to go to MB Post (http://eatmbpost.com) and Fishing With Dynamite (http://www.eatfwd.com).

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LA Dodger Game.

Baseball has always been a metaphor for America. The LA Dodgers (http://losangeles.dodgers.mlb.com/index.jsp?c_id=la) have been a symbol of Los Angeles since they moved from Brooklyn. Dodger Stadium opened in 1962. It was built on the controversial Chavez Ravine, overlooking the city making it one of the most beautiful settings for a baseball stadium. It is a really fun Sunday thing to do – watching a game and eating Dodger dogs.   The “Dodger dog” is a 10” frankfurter sold at Dodger Stadium during the games. It is probably not the best hot dog you will ever eat but it feels like it is when you are there.

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The Annenberg Space For Photography

Photography is my newest obsession and I just love this place. They have interesting exhibits and great lectures. It is located in Century City and admission is free. I often drop by for an hour and usually see the exhibits more than once. (http://annenbergphotospace.org)

It located near Century City Mall and you can run in and do some shopping and get some food. My new favorite Chinese restaurant is located here. It is called Meizhou Dongpo and is the first American outpost of a very successful chain restaurant in China which started in Beijing. They became famous because they catered the food in the Olympic village in 2008. Everything I have had there is delicious. I always look forward to eating there.

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Malibu

Malibu is very relaxed on a Sunday. Walk on the beach. Watch the surfers and birds at the lagoon. Have brunch at the Malibu Beach Inn (http://www.malibubeachinn.com), Malibu Farm (http://www.malibu-farm.com) or Nobu (http://www.noburestaurants.com/malibu/experience/). (Nobu)

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Walk around the shopping centers with their new stores. Maybe you will run into Caitlyn Jenner. I love the Malibu Farmer’s Market on Sunday as well. They have some great locally grown items. Sometimes I get fresh bread and cheese and make that a meal with all the samples they give you. Other times, I have one of the meals that they are cooking. As with all farmers markets, the best produce is in the morning and the best deals are at the end of the day.

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Music Center

Growing up in NY, I love theatre and ballet. I’m a regular at the Music Center downtown (http://www.musiccenter.org) . Traffic in LA has gotten so awful that I usually go on a Sunday. I have brunch at a new downtown restaurant or go back to one of my favorites. Anything from chef Joseph Centeno – Baco Mercat, Orsa and Winston, Bar Ama or Ledlow always works for me (http://bacomercat.com). (Disney Hall)

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The Music Center is one of the largest performing arts complexes in the US. It includes the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the Ahmanson Theatre, the Mark Taper Forum and the newest building Walt Disney Hall designed by Frank Gehry. The center is home to ongoing community events, arts festivals, outdoor concerts, participatory arts activities and workshops, and educational programs. When I don’t stop for lunch I grab Tina’s Tacos and sit outside and watch people run in and out of the fountain. (Dorothy Chandler)

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MOCA and The Geffen Contemporary

The Museum of Contemporary Art (http://moca.org) is right down the street from the Music Center. It’s fun to come down and see an exhibit after having dim sum in Chinatown. The best things in Chinatown are the art galleries where young LA artists show their stuff. You can still buy cheap made in China gifts and check out the herb stores with their dried mushrooms, tea leaves and goji berries. Every displaced New Yorker gets a favorite Chinatown restaurant when they move out here like they had in New York. You will hear a lot of New York accents on Sunday nights. Mine closed.

The Geffen Contemporary, which is MOCA”s very large exhibition space, always has interesting exhibits and is in Little Tokyo. I like to have sushi there and walk around the malls. It feels like Japan. I like Sushi Gen but I don’t like the lines. They open at 1115 if you get there early you can avoid the queue. (http://sushigen.org) Café Dulce in Japanese Village Plaza is the place for donuts afterward.

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Early movie and dinner

No matter where I have lived, my favorite thing to do on Sunday is always an early movie and dinner at a local restaurant. My usual movie theatres are in Westwood which means Lebanese food at Sunnin (http://sunnin.com), Italian food at Palmeri in Brentwood (http://www.palmeriristorantespa.com)  or the new Ingo Diner in Santa Monica (http://www.ingostastydiner.com).

Fly safe,

JAZ