By Nick O'Malley | email@example.com
If fluffernutters, coffee milk and American chop suey are weird, what's the point of being right?
As a follow up to our opening salvo in the cross country food fight vs. our friends down at AL.com, we've rounded up a list of 15 food special to New England that are unknown or a little weird to the rest of the country.
Last week, we picked a fight with our Advance Digital affiliate in Alabama by poking some fun at their weird food combinations (with banana-mayo sandwich and Kool-Aid pickles as the clear head-scratchers). Now, we're offering our list of feeds near and dear to our hearts and nowhere else.
Some of these are traditional recipes that families have been cooking up for years. Others have emerged thanks to some local brands that have taken root in the region. The one stipulation is that we are not including local food products by themselves. That means no Necco wafers or Polar seltzer. However, Moxie did make the list thanks to a certain concoction with the drink.
Here's the final list of 15 foods only New Englanders eat, as compiled by the MassLive fooditorial staff from our favorites and reader submissions:
1. American Chop Suey
Chop suey is designed to be easy to make in big batches. Cook up some peppers and onions, some meat, some tomato sauce and then mix with enough pasta to feed a small army. Boom, you've got dinner for tonight and probably tomorrow.
While there's seemingly no limit to the variety of pasta dishes, American chop suey is a New England specialty.
2. B&M Baked Beans with hot dogs or on toast
While Beantown remains a nickname for Boston that continued to go away, baked beans are still largely allocated to a side dish around these parts when served by themselves. If you want to cook them up for a cheap main course, you can either throw in some hot dogs (for a quick lunch that kids like), spread it out on toast or eat them in a split-top New England style hot dog bun.
3. Boston Cream Pie
Before most kids in these parts have even heard of custard, they've likely had their fair share of this cake, or in its alternate form -- the Boston cream pie doughnut.
4. Coffee Milk
When I was growing up, there were three flavors of milk to choose from for elementary school lunch: plain, chocolate and coffee. Chocolate was the clear favorite among the populace. However, coffee milk did have its fans, hooking the next generations in the region while they were young.
What's the difference between a frappe and a milkshake? A frappe is made with milk and ice cream. Just shut up and drink it.
Technically a fern, New Englanders consume these curly greens either steamed or sauteed.
While efforts to make the Fluffernutter the official sandwich of Massachusetts have stalled in the state legislature, it remains a valiant contender against jelly as the preferred companion to peanut butter on sandwiches in these parts.
8. New England Steamers (These can also be breaded and fried)
Sure, you can get clams almost anywhere. But when summer comes around -- especially on the Cape -- there's nothing like tearing through a pile of these bad boys while they're still in their shells.
9. Indian pudding
One of the oldest traditional dessert recipes to stem from the area, Indian pudding, a spin on English "hasty pudding," uses corn instead of wheat to form a dense pudding that's sweetened with molasses or maple syrup and sometimes features cinnamon and other spices.
Another early dessert that took form thanks to the omnipresence of corn in the region. Johnnycakes are essentially cornmeal pancakes and there's plenty of room for personalization in the recipe.
11. Moxie and milk
Moxie -- the vintage New England soft drink whose flavor has been compared to "burnt root beer and rust" -- doesn't seem like it would mix well with dairy. In fact, instead of curdling like you'd expect, a Moxie and milk has a lovely creamy taste reminiscent of a root beer float.
12. Apple pie with cheddar cheese
A nice warm apple pie is a common sight across America but pairing it with some sharp cheddar cheese? Not so much. It's very popular at The Big E, New England's Great State Fair.
13. Chow Mein sandwich
The Fall River-based creation isn't common knowledge throughout the state, but those who grew up with it swear by it. The sandwich is traditionally prepared with fried noodles, vegetables and gravy served sloppily on a hamburger bun. It can also come drenched in gravy, similar to a hot turkey sandwich.
14. Maple sugar candy
While Vermont is the name brand in maple syrup, Massachusetts and New Hampshire have their own syrup markets that are nothing to sneeze at. With the wave of syrup each year comes a creative batch of candies that can be hard or chewy.
15. Clam chowder
Sometimes, stereotypes are true. While the city of Boston isn't full of people in Red Sox hats yelling "Chowdah" at each other, it's impossible to ignore the popularity of the soup in the region. You also can't mess with it. Seriously, it's illegal. There's a law in Massachusetts banning the addition of tomato sauce to clam chowder.
Bonus: Breakdown a live lobster after boiling it
Do you have what it takes to break it down yourself? The tail is easy. The claws can take some work for the uninitiated. But can you get the meat out of the legs? And can you stomach the green tomalley from the middle of the creature? (Considering eating it is a whole other debate entirely.)