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April 15, 2010


For all that binds us together as Americans, we are still a nation of distinct states and regions, each with its own quirks. Regional specialties are what make us miss home when we’re away, and what make a trip around the country so interesting. 
 
Candlepin bowling in Massachusetts and around New England
It’s bowling, but with a small ball you hold in one hand. The pins are slim, nearly perfect cylinders. You roll three times per frame, and the knocked-over pins are not removed between your rolls. It’s also much more difficult: A professional will average about 125 points a game. It sounds crazy, but Bay Staters swear by it.
 
Coffee milk in Rhode Island
Coffee milk—think chocolate milk with coffee-flavored syrup instead of chocolate syrup—is the official state drink of Rhode Island. You can buy bottles everywhere in the state, and nearly nowhere else.
 
Catfish noodling in Oklahoma and throughout the South
Sometimes you need to catch a fish without a hook and line. If you’re brave and tenacious, you can dangle your arm into the water until a catfish bites it. Then you can heave a 50-pound catfish into your boat. You’ve earned your dinner.
 
Sopaipas (or Sopaipillas) in New Mexico and Texas
One of the Texas state pastries from 2003 to 2005, a sopaipa is a fried-dough delicacy that can be served savory or—highly recommended—sweet.
 
Cheese curds in Wisconsin and the Upper Midwest
Cheese curds, an intermediate product of the cheese-making process, can be found in any region, but they’re ubiquitous in the Upper Midwest. They’re delicious when fresh, but be warned: They squeak.
 
Scrapple in Pennsylvania
Scrapple is a loaf of pig offal, most popular in the Pennsylvania Dutch regions of the state. It is served sliced and fried, and can be found in supermarkets and on menus around the state.

Top: Hand-painted signs by Jeff Canham.

This article first appeared in GOOD Issue 19: The Neighborhoods Issue. You can read more from the issue here, or find out what it's all about by reading the introduction.
 
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