One Beloved Dish From Each U.S. State

A small sampling of our 50+ regional dish selections
A small sampling of our 50+ regional dish selections / Map: Getty/CSA Images; Hot dog: Getty/Jackie Alpers; Pie: Getty/Kativ; Pork Roll: Shutterstock/Ezume Images; Runza: Wikimedia CC 1.0 rayb777

You probably know about Chicago’s deep dish pizza and New York City’s famous bagels, but what’s the signature regional dish in Alabama? Or Idaho?

In the latest episode of The List Show, Mental Floss editor-in-chief Erin McCarthy goes on a trip around the United States, sharing one interesting dish from each state (and territory). She covers Alaskan akutaq, Puerto Rican mofongo, and everything in-between.

Alaskan akutaq
Alaskan akutaq / CC 3.0 Wikimedia Commons Matyáš Havel

Akutaq is an Alaskan specialty sometimes made with beef tallow and ground fish? Akutaq is a Yupik word meaning “mixed together,” and the dish lives up to its name, combining fats with berries and protein, like fish or caribou. It was originally intended to nourish people out on hunting or whaling expeditions, providing enough sustenance for long trips.

There’s no one recipe for akutaq and the ingredients depend on what region of Alaska you’re in. Though nowadays you’re very likely to see vegetable shortening, it can be made with bear or reindeer fat. Some renditions even add some actual backyard snow. At one akutaq cooking competition in 1842, entrants encouraged to be creative supposedly threw in beaver meat and bird eggs.

Unless you live in the region, you’ve probably never seen akutaq in person, but that’s what great regional food does—surprise you. Watch the full video to learn more than 50 other regional specialties.

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