It’s morning in America, and all across the country people are rising, shining, and settling into the first meal of the day. It’s breakfast, so it’s going to be eggs, bacon, toast, and coffee, right? Maybe a pancake or two, or some cereal? There’s a good chance that you’ll be able to find a combo of those anywhere you go, but if you’re eating goetta, you are almost certainly near Cincinnati. Eggs Sardou locates you in the vicinity of New Orleans, and a smear of marionberry jam has you smack dab in Oregon.
There are some dishes and foods that are so closely tied to a place—because of agriculture, industry, or tradition—that they become part of its identity. Expats crave them when they leave, and then order the necessary ingredients to savor a taste of home. A person might dig out a dog-eared community cookbook, or visit an old haunt, take a bite and be transported back to a meal with a loved one long ago. These foods have power; they are essential.
This is not to say that every food on this list is going to be on every breakfast menu in town, or that they’re regularly eaten by everyone in the region. Some have been embraced beyond their original geographic boundaries, and others have fallen out of favor. But they’re all from somewhere, and you should get to know a little bit more about them.