RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Regional Pride Edition

Share a local delicacy.
Publish date:
August 25, 2015
hometowns, regional differences, catfish, Recipe Of The Week

Hi! Hello! How are you? Are you ready for another action-packed installment of Recipe of the Week? I sure hope so, because I very much am. Last week we discussed ways to combat #saddesklunch and you all absolutely nailed it with some of the happiest lunches in the land. The winner was a heck of a sandwich from barbie_must_die, and it went a little something like this:

When I was but a wee Barbie, my dad went back to school. Occasionally, I would go with him to college, which I'm sure was a huge hit with other students. (It was actually fine because he was working on an elementary Ed degree.) Dad had a lunchtime lecture that everyone ate in. I had come prepared with my special Pizza Lunchable, and dad had his standard brown bag, plus an extra sandwich. He handed the sandwich to the girl sitting next to me. "Are you Ray's little girl?" I nodded. "Your dad makes the BEST sandwiches." Dad had noticed that she was always hungry but never had food, so he made sure she had a decent lunch at least twice a week. My dad is cool.

Daddy Ray's Best Sandwich EverToasted whole grain breadVenison sausage (thick cut salami will also work)White onions (thinly sliced)Crisp romaine lettuceSharp cheddar cheeseDressing of your choosing (I recommend vinegar and oil, mayo, or Vidalia onion salad dressing)

Toast the bread in advance-you don't want the cheese to melt much, you just want the bread to be crispy. Assemble with dressing on both inner sides of the bread, then stack the onions, sausage, lettuce, and cheese. Slice in half diagonally. If you are packing in advance, rinse the romaine and wrap it in a damp paper towel and a separate baggy-it will keep it crisp until lunchtime.

I didn't have any venison sausage available, so I settled on cotto salami from Laurelhurst Market. Everything else was assembled as directed, and lunch was served. This is one of those sandwiches I could eat again and again, which is why I'm so glad I bought extra salami. If I had an office to go to, this would definitely make it into my lunchbox. Thank you for sharing this sandwich with us barbie_must_die. Daddy Ray is a sandwich artist (and a very nice man) so I hope you will share this trophy with him.

(Get it? Because this sandwich is satisfying.)

Next topic.

Being from Mississippi but living most of my life in Los Angeles gave me a distinct appreciation for regional cuisine. I never had never even had a taco until I moved to Southern California, but once we settled in Echo Park, an entirely new edible world was available to me. Elote became a fast favorite of mine, and my sisters could not get enough of Pelon Pelo Rico. Thai food was also completely new to me, as was the distinctly Californian BBQ chicken pizza. I found a lot of good food in L.A., but the one thing I could never find was decent catfish.

I'm not one to get overly hung up on "authenticity." If something tastes good, I'm likely to eat it without worrying about whether it's breaking any regional rules, but I am a stickler when it comes to catfish. It should be fried, tail still on, in a cornmeal batter and served with hushpuppies, raw onion slices, and wedges of lemon. This is how it is made at Town & Country in Aberdeen, Mississippi, and this is the only way I will eat it without complaint. (I've had it grilled and blackened; both preparations are pointless.) If I were to submit one dish to represent Mississippi on a plate, this catfish platter would be it.

This of course leads me to ask you about your favorite regional recipes. What do they make in your town, city, or state that every other town, city, and state gets wrong? What is your favorite regional delicacy, and how is it made? What dish do you long for when you're away from home? What sandwich, casserole, or dessert gives you hometown pride? (I'm particularly interested in "Garbage Plates," which I think is an upstate New York thing.)