American place names feature prominently on a variety of foods. In this quiz we will ask you to match the US state on the right that best aligns with the food item on the left. This is a renovated/adopted version of an old quiz by author finlady
A matching quiz
Estimated time: 3 mins.
Last 3 plays: Guest 73 (10/10), golfnut66 (8/10), Mhillwig (10/10).
Mobile instructions: Press on an answer on the right. Then, press on the gray box it matches on the left.
(a) Drag-and-drop from the right to the left, or (b) click on a right
side answer box and then on a left side box to move it.
2. Crab cakes
5. Mud pie
6. Fried chicken
9. Clam chowder
Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
Idaho seems to be made for growing potatoes. Warm summer days coupled with its cool nights are the perfect climate conditions for spuds. Further, its soil, which is full of rich volcanic ash, provides the right balance of trace elements for successful growing. Some will even argue that the water used to irrigate the crops is cleaner, because it comes from reservoirs that have filled with the melted snows of winter, and that too plays a role.
So what is an Idaho potato? It is a russet potato, a potato that is perfect for baking and ideal for chips (French fries) too. After some clever marketing, going back decades, as to how good the russet potato, grown in Idaho is, the name Idaho, pretty soon, became synonymous with russet potatoes. It is little wonder that Idaho has, subsequently, trademarked the name. They have also trademarked the term "Grown in Idaho", because they don't just grow russets, and these are labels that they attached to their other varieties of the tuber. There are at least twenty other varieties grown in the state, among them are red potatoes, fingerlings, and the Yukon Gold.
2. Crab cakes
To be designated a Maryland crab cake, it needs to be made with the famous Maryland jumbo lump blue crab meat. The other secrets are, very little filler, Dijon mustard, Old Bay seasoning and... don't overthink the process.
What is filler? Filler is the binding agent that holds the crab meat together and the aim is to use as little as possible. The best crab cakes are said to be the ones that start to fall apart at the merest touch of a fork. This makes it very challenging trying to get the cake browned without it falling to pieces. Old Bay seasoning is said to be the quintessential American spice blend, built on a base of celery salt, paprika, black pepper, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, and ginger. Other spices are added to achieve the perfect blend for your recipe.
Georgia has the reputation of being the "Peach State" but it doesn't get this moniker for the quantity of peaches it grows, more the quality of the peach. For example, California, in 2021, produced 130,000 tons of peaches, South Carolina, a little over 72,000 tons, while Georgia, during the same time frame, yielded a little over 35,000 tons.
So what makes the Georgia peach so special? First up is the soil. Georgia soil has a distinctive red clay in it, particular around Middle Georgia, along the Fort Valley Plateau. In a state that is prone to being drought affected, this clay helps retain moisture in the soil and that has proven to be a boon to Georgia's peach farmers. The second factor is the state's climate. It is hot and it is humid, and it is pure hell for its residents... but for peaches, it is heaven. The secret is the weather's ability to produce sugar. When the other states cool down in the evenings the sugar processing in the fruit stops... in Georgia, it doesn't cool down.
There are other variables but these two are the main ones and are sufficient to give you some understanding as to why Georgia peaches are so good.
I have to admit that I was curious to find out what Texas toast was and, just like the images of the state, it is big. That's right, Texas toast is, for want of a better word, "big toast". As to how it came about... I have conflicting stories, though both indicate that it started out at the Pig Stand, a small chain of restaurants in Texas whose menu was, as the name implies, pork based. One of these tales indicates that it was a restaurant in Denton, Texas, in 1946, the other implicates the Beaumont store in 1941 that created this dish
Whilst the venues and the years differ, both tell the same story. The restaurant requested a local bakery to provide it with some thicker slices of bread to serve as toast with their meals. When the bread arrived, it was found to be too thick for their toasters. Rather than throwing the bread out, the chef suggested that the bread be buttered on both sides and then placed on a grill. This would provide an even cook and a crunchy exterior, whilst retaining a soft centre. The toast proved to be a hit and a good way to soak up or mop up gravy.
(Footnote) The Pig Stand was a Dallas based chain that opened its first store in 1922 and claimed to be selling 50,000 sandwiches a week in a 1924 advertisement. The franchise expanded into hundreds of stores across the United States, but withdrew back to Texas during the Great Depression. A range of factors would lead to its demise. One store still remains open, in San Antonio, though there were rumblings that a second may rise up again in Beaumont.
5. Mud pie
The mississippienclopedia.org advises that the pie got its name from the way it resembled Mississippi River mud. If made properly the pie, on coming out of the oven, will have a top that is cracked and crunchy and it would look just like the river's clay after it had been hardened by the sun, become crusty and then cracked. Also, if you have baked it correctly, the centre of the pie will have retained a soft and chewy consistency.
A family favourite in this author's household, this is a simple pie to make. Simply whisk together sugar, melted butter, chocolate, and eggs, pour it into a tin and bake. Great on its own, even better with cream or custard.
6. Fried chicken
Most of the world now knows what Kentucky Fried Chicken (now stylized as KFC) is. Mainly because it is the world's second largest, by volume of sales, restaurant chain.
But what is the process of creating KFC. The core ingredient, the chicken, is pressure fried (as opposed to deep fried) because Harlon Sanders, its creator, felt that in this way the flavour would not diminish. In most centres around the globe the chicken is cut into nine sections - two drumsticks, two wings, two thighs, two breasts and a keel. The United States' stores have now adopted an eight cut process. These pieces are breaded at the store by hand using a combination of wheat flour with the Colonel's secret recipe of eleven different herbs and spices. Depending on the oil being used, the pressure frying process takes between seven to ten minutes.
Once cooked the chicken pieces are required to stand for five minutes so that they cool sufficiently to handle, before being placed in buckets or boxes. The KFC policy is to discard any pieces that have been standing for more than 90 minutes. There you have it... in a bucket.
Virginia ham is a special variety of country ham that is popular in the southern states of the USA and was one of the favoured foods of the original Jamestown settlers. The beauty of it was that the curing process allowed it to be transported easily and it created a profitable trade item for them.
A recipe salvaged from those colonial days called for the butchering of a pig that had been raised on Virginian peaches and peanuts (truly). The pig was then cured with a combination of salt and potassium nitrate (saltpetre) and left to sit for either days or weeks. Then, to this was rubbed a spice mix built around pepper and brown sugar and the meat was then hung in a smoke house over low burning hickory for a few days. This would then be left to sit for another six months. During this period it was likely to develop a mould on the surface... this though is normal.
Suzanne Fanning, who is the editor of the Wisconsin dairy farmers' on-line site, espouses the following as to why Wisconsin is ideal for the production of cheese; "The Great Lakes moderate weather extremes supply essential moisture for grasses in Wisconsin, making the state ideal for cow husbandry. Limestone-based soil, which is highly productive for forage and fodder, is abundant. This affects the richness and depth of flavour of the cheeses - a concept known as terroir".
The state is synonymous with cheese in the USA, and it produces 25% of that country's cheese. And it takes this responsibility seriously because, at the time of writing, it was the only US state that required those supervising the production of commercial cheeses to be licensed.
Obviously, they must have their combinations right because, at the 2022 World Championship Cheese Contest they didn't just produce the winners in the flavoured and unflavoured cheese curd sections, they produced the top five finishers in each category.
9. Clam chowder
Answer: Rhode Island
The three most popular clam chowders in the United States are, arguably, New England, Manhattan (neither of which is a state) and Rhode Island. All three, however, are markedly different. The New England version is built around cream, potatoes, onions, celery and clams. The most common variant to this is the Manhattan which relies on a thinner broth but adds tomatoes to the mix to provide it with a deep red colour. Then there's the Rhode Island, also known as the "clear" clam chowder because it omits the cream of the New England and the tomato of the Manhattan. Despite this, with its lively mix of vegetables, it still manages to pack a punch.
The history of clam chowder can be traced back to the days of the Pilgrims and their arrival on the Northeast coast of the United States. Due to the abundant seafood in the area they indulged in a chowder, made in a French style, using fish. Then they discovered the quahog, which was an important part of the daily lifestyle of the Native American tribes in the region... and the quahogs were abundant. Initially they didn't take to the shellfish, instead using it to feed their livestock. However, the harsh winters meant that obtaining food wasn't always easy and the need to employ (for want of a better word) lesser foods became a necessity... and so, a new appreciation for the clam was born.
Answer: New York
Anthropologists believe that the first cheesecakes were made in Ancient Greece, on the island of Samos and that it was served to Olympic athletes prior to competition for energy. The first cheesecake recipe to be uncovered came after the Roman conquest of Greece in the third century, revealing ingredients of cheese, flour, wheat, and honey.
Since then, there have been countless versions of the dessert. So how does the New York cheesecake stand out. For starters, it is baked. The ingredients include cream cheese, egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice, and sour cream. Today, you would think there is nothing special about that but, cream cheese is the key. The ingredient was discovered by accident by a New York farmer named William Lawrence, who had a go at making the French cheese Neufchatel. The different milk fat and the change in moisture content meant that the French cheese didn't eventuate but his new "cream cheese" did. The new creation inspired Arnold Reuben, of New York's Reuben's Restaurant & Delicatessen, and he used it as the basis of his new cheesecake recipe, which became the New York. Most other cheesecake makers at the time were building their creations around cottage cheese.
Lemon is added to the New York cake to provide it with some tang and the addition of the sour cream gives the cake a rich density and it also allow the cake to be frozen. The Chicago cheesecake is similar to New York's, but it uses less egg in its recipe, which alters the texture, and it incorporates vanilla extract, which alters the taste. Finally, it uses shortbread for a base, compared to the Graham crackers used on the New York cheesecake.