If your state had an official meat or meat dish, which would it be? Since you are reading this on Drovers/CattleNetwork, it’s probably safe to assume you would prefer it to be beef, but of course other meat products have their place in various states’ cultural and culinary traditions.
This week on Slate.com, assistant editor L.V. Anderson took a shot at identifying signature meat items for each state, creating a whimsical U.S. map and article titled “United Steaks of America.” Some of the choices are spot-on, such as brisket for Texas. Others could be more debatable, but the piece offers an amusing tour of the nation’s meat-eating traditions.
Besides Texas, several states get lucky with beef items as their honorary state meats. Alabama gets meat loaf, Arizona carne asada and Connecticut gets the hamburger based on historical claims the ubiquitous pattie originated in that state. Illinois lays claim to the porterhouse steak, due to its history of stockyards, meat packing and steakhouses.
Kansas, enviably, gets burnt ends, those savory pieces of well-smoked brisket that top the menu in area barbeque joints. Massachusetts gets roast beef, Nebraska bone-in ribeye, Oklahoma chicken-fried steak and Montana gets Rocky Mountain oysters.
Personally I thought the Rocky Mountain oysters, or some other beef item, should have gone to my home state of Colorado. Instead, Anderson assigned us mutton. She rightly points out that Colorado is the top state for finishing lambs, and the birthplace of “mutton busting,” the riotous county fair activity in which young kids try their hand at bareback sheep riding. But really, mutton?
At least we fared better than Utah, which is stuck with gelatin, as folks in that state apparently really like Jell-O. Then there is West Virginia, where squirrel tops the list.
And finally there is California, where Anderson names the state meat as tofu. “It’s a well-known fact that Californians don’t eat meat, just tofu and kale,” she writes. “And to include kale on a list of state meats would just be ridiculous.”
Read United Steaks of America from Slate.com.