When we think of crepes, we picture a French bistro or Bratwurst, a German market. We often associate food with places, whether it be international cuisine or fare that is more regional and linked to some of our country’s major cities.
Sometimes, we might tie a favorite dish to a location but have no idea that there is also some fascinating history involved in its claim to fame. Here are just five American cities that are known for a specific food and how that cuisine became legend.
1. San Francisco: Sourdough Bread
Sourdough bread was brought to the United States, and specifically Northern California, during the California Gold Rush period. The credit for bringing this treasure to California’s 49ers goes to Isadore Boudin as far back as 1849. The Boudin family remains hard at work baking the signature bread and feeding hungry diners at the famous Bistro Boudin, where there is also a museum and tours at its original flagship location in the City by the Bay.
2. Florida Keys: Key Lime Pie
The Florida Keys are a sure spot for fishing and maybe even catching a glimpse of Jimmy Buffet. However, the Keys and especially Key West, have become known for its pie – Key Lime Pie to be exact. Made from graham cracker crust, key lime juice, and other ingredients, this sweet dessert is now the official pie of the Florida Keys. The history of Key Lime pie remains in dispute, but some stories date back to the early 1800’s and all involve baking fishermen.
3. Chicago: Deep Dish Pizza
It’s tough to visit the windy city without sampling some authentic deep dish pizza at least once, maybe twice. Chicago’s tradition of deep dish pizza dates back to the 1940’s when a thriving community of immigrants called the city home. In 1943, the very first Pizzeria Uno opened in Chicago’s Near North Side area, and the rest is culinary history. Chicago’s signature pie is known for its thickness, thin layer of sauce, and cracker-like crust, something that has turned the dish into a Chicago icon.
4. St. Louis: Toasted Ravioli
Unless you’ve lived in or spent some time in the Midwest city of St. Louis, you might not be aware of their unique culinary creation. St. Louis’ first Toasted Ravioli were actually invented by accident in the 1950’s. A new assistant chef at an Italian restaurant called Angelo Oldani’s dropped some ravioli into a pan of hot oil by mistake. The result is historic and toasted ravioli are now a St. Louis local favorite.
5. Philadelphia: Cheesesteak
Even passing through Philadelphia’s airport, passengers make sure to grab one of this city’s signature sandwiches – the cheesesteak. This delicious concoction is comprised of thinly sliced rib-eye beef and melted cheese on a toasted roll. Feel free to customize your cheesesteak with such things as sautéed onions or mushrooms, peppers, mayonnaise, and ketchup. This most original of sandwiches was brought to the City of Brotherly Love in the 1930s by Pat Olivieri, an enterprising hot dog vendor in South Philly.