So, our Canadian friends think they have all the best foods in the world, I must admit to being more that a tad skeptical. What foods from your region are incredible, mind blowingly, toe curlingly, near religious experiences. Bonus points if not widely known. The only rule I can think of is they must be connected in some way to your region, for instance there may be amazing lasagna in your region, but if that region isn't Italy there has to be something which uniquely ties it to your region.
In the southeast U.S food is a big part of cultural identity, and we have a fairly distinct diet from the rest of the U.S incorporating a number of foods not widely used or appreciated elsewhere. For this first offering I'll go with what is a basic staple in many southern households, grits.
Grits is a food made from a dish of boiled cornmeal. Hominy grits are a type of grits made from hominy – corn that has been treated with an alkali in a process called nixtamalization with the pericarp removed. Grits are often served with other flavorings as a breakfast dish, usually savory. The dish originated in the Southern United States but now is available nationwide, and is popular as the dinner entrée shrimp and grits, served primarily in the South. Grits should not be confused with boiled ground corn, which makes "hasty pudding" or "mush" or may be made into polenta using coarse ground corn, or with the "mush" made from more finely ground corn meal.
Often disdained and even mocked by people from elsewhere, this unassuming has an amazing culinary flexibility. Many people from elsewhere have tried grits and found them unpleasant, but when asked "what did you flavor them with?" they answer nothing. This is much like trying plain pasta, then deciding that all pasta dishes must suck. Grits MUST be flavored, salt being the most common "must add" ingredient, butter, cheese, pepper, jalapenos, bacon bits or crumbled sausage, and even gravy are pretty common. Some poor benighted souls even add sugar or other sweeteners, though this is widely seen as a minor form of insanity by the rest of the south. Though there are a great many ways to prepare them one very popular method is the above mentioned shrimp and grits, which again has a wide degree of variety.
The following is my basic recipe, though rarely followed to the letter it is a solid basis for experimentation.
3 cups of broth or stock, tomato shrimp broth works but can be a tad overpowering so I usually go with chicken stock.
1 cup of grits, some use quick or instant grits, but the slow simmered grits work best imo.
about a half teaspoon of salt, seasalt is my preferred.
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
2 tablespoon of butter
1 cup of grated sharp cheddar, 1/2 cup each of grated pepper jack, smoky gouda, and havarti
6 slices of thick cut bacon, peppered not maple
2 lbs of peeled and deveined med or larger shrimp
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
a couple of tablespoons of worcestershire sauce
some chopped fresh parsley and dill
half a small onion finely chopped,
several chopped green onions
a couple of cloves of minced garlic
a pinch of cayenne pepper
cook the grits in the broth as directed until done
stir in salt, pepper,butter and cheese, cover and keep warm
cook bacon in a skillet until crisp, set aside
cook shrimp in same skillet until slightly pink,, about 3 minutes on med-hi heat usually
chop bacon while shrimp cooks
stir into skillet lemon juice, W sauce,parsley, dill, garlic, cayenne pepper and onions
cook 3ish minutes, then add chopped bacon
spoon grits onto plates or shallow bowls and top with shrimp mixture
Some successful variations have included adding andouille sausage, fish (though this is touchy, may have to experiment with cooking times depending on type or cut of fish), diced tomatoes, jalapenos, variations with the cheeses. It's a wide pallet, throw some color on it.