There’s one thing about great food that has always eluded me: why do some awesome foods catch on and spread across America, while others that are just as awesome stay regional? Think about it: every city has their own BBQ joint, which was, at one time, a Southern thing. Every town, big and small, has at least one greasy spoon diner, which originated in Rhode Island. Even though you’re not in the Big Apple, you can still get a large, thin, gotta-fold-it slice of New York-style pizza– or, Chicago deep dish, if you prefer.
But what about those fantastic foods that don’t seem to spread? Have you ever heard of hot boiled peanuts??? If you’re not from nor spent a good amount of time south of the Mason-Dixon line, you probably haven’t, but these babies are TO DIE FOR. Soft, warm, flavorful pieces of heaven, super easy to make, yet no one north or west in the US knows what on earth I am talking about when I get a hankering for them. My friend at work, who is from waaaay upstate NY, near the Canadian border, told me a story about how she caused confusion of epic proportions when she went to a deli and ordered her sandwich on a hard roll. They had no clue, but pictured day old bread. I went to New Mexico last year for work, and had breakfast tacos, which may be in my top 10 best things I’ve ever eaten. Anyone in the NorthEast region seen a restaurant serve these? Very few. Anyone outside New York heard of Utica greens?
Another insanely delicious and easy dish to make, yet a secret in culinary culture.
So, why don’t these dishes (and so many others I’m sure I don’t even know about) spread like wild fire, while others don’t? These are made with staples and common produce, so the availability of ingredients is not the issue here. I am sad to say, I cannot offer a guess. I have no freakin’ clue. If anyone has a thought on this, I would LOVE to her it!
One of my absolute favorite, easiest, and most accessible to all parts of the country “secret” foods is the salt potato. Oh, salt potatoes. So, so good. No idea why you hide in Syracuse. I’m trying to make you America’s prom queen, you delicious, comforting, creamy, cravable starch.
With these babies, it’s really simple: if you’re not in the Syracuse area, in which they sell pre-packaged salt potato kits like this at my Mecca (aka Wegmans), then you only need three ingredients: water, a lot of salt, and small white potatoes, such as Yukon baby gold. Oh, and some melted butter at the end.
- large pot
- measuring cup
- 4 lbs small white potatoes (such as Yukon baby Gold)
- 2 1/2 c salt
- melted butter (optional, but awesome)
- Fill your pot just over half way with water. Bring to a boil.
- Pour salt and potatoes into the pot.
- Reduce heat slightly and cook (covered) for about 25-30 minutes, until potatoes are soft, and break easily with a fork.
- When potatoes are done cooking, strain with a colander. Place potatoes back into the pot to cool a bit, so that the salt crystalizes on the potatoes.
- Drizzle some melted butter over the potatoes before serving.