For decades, people have moved to seattle for its natural beauty; because it’s a center of innovation and opportunity; and, often, because it allows them the freedom to live the way they want to. With the recent growth spurt (thanks, Amazon) and an influx of thousands of newcomers a month, Seattle has again become a mini-melting pot of newcomers from across the United States. And with that have come tastes of the nation: Nashville fried chicken, Minnesota-style burgers, Kansas City-style barbecue, for starters.
This month’s cover story takes a break from our usual focus on hyper-local dining and presents the ultimate guide for anyone looking for a taste of their home state—if home isn’t from around here. Our dynamo food-writing duo, food editor Chelsea Lin and writer Naomi Tomky (also see our Global Dining issue from this past March)—have left no plate unturned in their search for dishes from nearly all 50 states for the story.
Familiar foods are the ultimate sort of comfort food, and if it’s comfort food you’re looking for, you’ll find it in spades as Seattle magazine kicks off its three-day Seattle Food and Wine Experience event on Thursday, February 22, with an evening at Sodo Park celebrating comfort food in all its forms. (I am still obsessed with last year’s adorable dessert of milk and cookies, stacked on straws in old-school lunch-box-type milk cartons from Smith Brothers.) The food fest continues on Friday, February 23, with one of those this-is-so-Seattle-I-can’t-believe-no-one-has-thought-of-this-before events, Pop! Bubbles & Seafood—yes, basically its an all-you-can-eat-and-drink seafood and Champagne/sparkling wine buffet. The event wraps up with the Grand Tasting on Saturday, February 24, which will offer food bites and sips of beer, wine and locally distilled spirits. The three days encapsulate the top dining and drinking trends of the year. Our events team puts on parties that people talk about for months so you won’t want to miss these (find more information at seattlemag.com).
My taste-of-home craving? I miss the kringle from O&H Danish Bakery in my hometown of Racine, Wisconsin (though I’ve been thrilled to find it at Trader Joes during the holidays), but most of my nostalgia for Midwest food revolves around my favorite Midwest city, Chicago. The Chicago dog and Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, to be specific. I have found a close facsimile to Chicago-style pizza at Windy City Pie, but the perfect Chicago dog remains elusive: the poppyseed bun, that fluorescent green relish, the pickle spear (yes, it must be a spear) and sport peppers. Most I’ve seen have one or two elements but not all.
Like the Chicago dog, our picks will likely spark debate among purists (we welcome it!). But like anything (or anyone) else that migrates from its origin, the dishes evolve a bit to adapt to their environment. (I love Sisters and Brothers hilarious reference to mild hot sauce as “Seattle hot”.)
There are plenty of things dividing us in this country, but we love how these dishes—even if you’re not from where they originate—bring people together, for at least a brief moment.