After reading an article in this weekend’s New York Times about Utah’s unique Pastrami Burger, National Geographic writer Catherine L. Barker blogged about her own reporting on obscure regional foods a few years ago, when she discovered such local favorites as the Kringle, a round, flaky pastry in Racine, Wisconsin, or Livermush, a North Carolina delicacy that is exactly what it sounds like. It she also learned how passionate people are about their local tastes:
Early in my reporting I realized that people become strangely emotional when they are asked about their favorite foods. It’s as if Moon Pie or a conch fritter acts as the proverbial Madeleine, sparking a rush of memories–and a growling stomach. Some of my sources became defensive, some got excited; pretty much all of them were nostalgic. I spoke to one woman in Hawaii about Spam Musubi, a sort of sushi made with Spam, for at least an hour. Did you know that there’s a festival dedicated to this canned pork product every year in Waikiki? That’s devotion! And a bartender from Nevada was so enthusiastic about Picon Punch, he mailed me everything I needed to mix the potent drink
beloved by many of the west’s Basque émigrés. Some North Carolina residents waxed poetic in emails they sent me about livermush, a culinary mishmash of pig parts and cornmeal. I thought it sounded pretty revolting, and I spoke with other Southerners who agreed. From California to Connecticut, everyone I talked to had an opinion about their local food, and where to find the best of it.
Photo: A Kringle pastry, via NG Blog Central