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Local Flavor

Don’t try to view this collection of regional delicacies on an empty stomach.

Food isn’t just about what tastes good in the moment — you can almost trace a region’s history through its cuisine. Banh mi sandwiches combine a roll of French bread with pickled carrots, spicy jalapenos, and other flavors of Vietnam; and speak to the French colonization of that country. Over the centuries, six flags have flown over the state of Texas, and they show in everything from the barbecue to the Tex-Mex. Without any knowledge of world geography, you could adequately guess which countries neighbor each other by analyzing the shared flavors in their traditional meals.

Some worry that all this culinary history is disappearing with the spread of chain restaurants and fast food. But that’s why I loved the submissions to this theme. So many contributors mentioned not just their local delicacy, but what they do while eating it. Northeastern crab boils, Argentinian asados, and Chinese dim sum feasts all combine beloved food with beloved ritual. Food goes too deep into every culture to be brushed aside in a generation of globalization. I can’t say it any better than Carrie Hirdes: “Food itself becomes a verb. It heals the hurt, celebrates the joy, and comforts those who need it. It says, ‘I’m so sorry for your loss’ and ‘Congratulations’ and ‘Let’s sit and catch up a bit’ and ‘He sure was a sorry-son-of-a-bitch!’”

Published on February 3, 2010

Introduction by Laura Brunow Miner

Guest design by Paul Octavious

Roe House

Roe House

Here in the US, most restaurants use salmon roe sparsely, usually serving a small amount of these fish eggs on a piece of nigiri sushi. But in Japan and in Japanese communities in America (I grew up in Los Angeles, and frequented Little Tokyo, Gardena, and Torrance), you can buy whole bowls of salmon roe (“ikura”) over sushi rice. Daikon radish sprouts (“kaiware”) and shredded seaweed (“nori”) are sprinkled on top. If you haven’t tried roe, it’s as decadent as caviar: briny and silky, complementing the delicate sweetness of the rice underneath. This bowl, waiting for me in the kitchen, is about to be devoured as a late night meal with some cold beer.

Photographer: Robert Otani

I try to take my camera everywhere with me so that I’ll be ready when unicorns crapping rainbows come flying in from the heavens.

Plenty of Fish in the Sea

Plenty of Fish in the Sea

Somehow fish tastes better when you know where it comes from, and best when you have caught it yourself. I spent a lovely morning on the sea outside of Smögen (on the west coast of Sweden) fishing for herring, or oily fish. After three hours my friends and I had scored around 70 herrings on our hooks. The trick to preparing them was to cut out their intestines and get them in a panful of butter as quickly as possible. Golden brown with a crunch, this herring was loaded with dill and served next to boiled potatoes, lingonberry jam, and cold beer. Bon appetit.

Photographer: Christian Ahlqvist

I’m an event consultant from Göteborg, Sweden.

Crab Boil

Crab Boil

Recipe for Maryland small town summertime bliss: First, start with an outdoor picnic table (preferably facing the water) and a pile of newspapers (preferably local ones so you can read who had their laundry stolen off the clothes line). Second, steam crabs with your secret blend of rock salt, Old Bay seasoning, secret spice, and lots of cheap beer. Third, lay the crabs out on the newspaper and use mallets or butter knives for cracking, while your whole family from young to old gathers around. Fourth, keep picking crabs, passing out cans of cheap local beer, and shooting the bull all afternoon. Lastly, do not be concerned when your hands look like this afterwards.

Photographer: Jennie Leigh

I am a high tech office worker, living in the San Francisco Bay Area. I sit deep in a cube farm, but I yearn for my lazy childhood days spent on the Chesapeake.

Oyster Roast

Oyster Roast

During the months ending in ‘r’, everyone in Charleston gathers outside while oysters covered in wet burlap cook on a fire. After they have cooked, they are shoveled off the fire onto a big communal table while everyone crowds around and starts shucking. Think of some of the best Southern stereotypes — tradition, hospitality, a lazy afternoon — and you will begin to understand the Charleston oyster roast.

Photographer: Hailey Ezekiel

I am a college admissions counselor and artist in Charleston, SC.

The Spice of Life

The Spice of Life

Southeast Texas benefits from a trifecta of culinary influences: Southern, Mexican, and Cajun. Not only can you find the best of each of these cuisines represented independently, but some really brave and creative chefs and home cooks can mix all three in one dish. (For example: crab stuffed tilapia seasoned with a hint of chili powder, smothered with a creamy shrimp sauce, and served over a bed of crawfish risotto and seasonal vegetables.) But food here is more than spices and flavors; food itself becomes a verb. It heals the hurt, celebrates the joy, and comforts those who need it. It says, “I’m so sorry for your loss” and “Congratulations” and “Let’s sit and catch up a bit” and “He sure was a sorry-son-of-a-bitch!” It’s the best way a Texan knows how to communicate.

Photographer: Carrie Hirdes

A 30-something still living life in transition, trying to document as much as possible while living a life in between.

Epic Fare

Epic Fare

For the best grilled calamari on the planet you can either go to a small place called Volcane on the Greek island of Santorini, or visit Taverna Kyclades in my hometown of Astoria. Nothing fancy here, just amazingly fresh and well-prepared seafood. Opa!

Photographer: Patrick Merino

When I’m not at my 9 to 5 doing IT work for the government I enjoy New York City based “street photography” — no fancy manipulations (except for an occasional HDR), just plain old straight forward images of anything that grabs my attention both above and below ground.

Tokyo Tidbits

Tokyo Tidbits

Yakitori, or skewered chicken, is an example of how simple and great street food can be. This tiny shop with no tables and no chairs was located in the Tsukishima neighborhood of Tokyo. I ordered from the sidewalk and soon after continued on my way with some of the tastiest fast food there is.

Photographer: Brian Wellings

I’m an Australian living and working in Tokyo.

Thai Delight

Thai Delight

Thai locals flock to the Amphawa riverside to feast on fresh seafood, savory curries, and mouth-burning papaya salads that are prepared on and served from longtail boats. Amphawa, still relatively undiscovered by foreign tourists, is a historic floating market located on the banks of the Mae Klong River, and is about 45 minutes outside of my hometown of Bangkok, Thailand.

Photographer: Tara Kocourek

Tara Kocourek is a freelance photographer in Washington, DC. A traveler from a very young age, Tara grew up in Japan, Australia, and Thailand; and has traveled to Burma, China, Costa Rica, England, Fiji, Honduras, Indonesia, India, New Zealand, Malaysia, Nicaragua, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

Sammich Heaven

Sammich Heaven

In the eclectic immigrant neighborhoods around Pittsburgh, PA, one food has emerged as the soul of the Steel City: Primanti’s sandwiches (although the locals pronounce this word as “sammiches”). Primanti Bros. made a meal out of the sandwich by adding a slather of coleslaw and a handful of fresh cut french fries directly in to the sandwich. Growing up, I took Primanti’s for granted. I’ve since moved away, and now long for the day when I can eat my corned beef, no tomato, add egg, extra cheese sammich.

Photographer: Devon Adams

Devon Christopher Adams is an educator in Arizona who’s become more and more obsessed with photography.

Dear @Pictory:

Real wings are never called ‘buffalo wings’ nor ‘chicken wings’ (just ‘wings’) & are always served with celery & blue cheese.”

Tasty Translation

Tasty Translation

Carrot cake doesn’t mean the same thing in Singapore that it does in the West. For us, the dish involves pieces of carrot and flour steamed into cakes then chopped and fried with eggs, preserved vegetables, Chinese parsley, and dark soy sauce (if you want the dish black; it also comes in white without soy sauce). Beside this meal is a plate of Hokkien Prawn Noodles, also a Singaporean favorite.

Photographer: Pearly Tan

Journalist by profession, pianist by childhood, photographer by passion.

Fast and Fresh

Fast and Fresh

Coimbatore, a hilly city in Tamil Nadu, India, is known for its delicious street food. A large number of street stalls sell tasty dishes like dosa, bonda, and omelettes. I loved this spicy dish called “Chilli Mushroom Fry”.

Photographer: Raghuram Ashok

I am Raghuram Ashok, a photographer from Bangalore, India.

Progressive Dinner

Progressive Dinner

On any given night that I wander the bustling streets of Taipei, my stomach always leads me to the push cart street vendors. Eight course meals begin at a fried tofu stand and zigzag toward the end of the street, most likely to a sit-down restaurant serving delicious tapioca desserts. I always find exactly what I’m craving, whether it’s on a stick, fried in sesame oil, or made of surf and/or turf.

Photographer: Derek Lui

Derek Lui is a writer living in San Francisco.



Mexico is home to many wonderful dishes, some of which are world famous, some of which are not. Pozole is one of the most Mexican of Mexican dishes: a watery broth filled with either pork, chicken, or shrimp, and then loaded up with vegetables and a few spices to give it kick. You can add your own radish, chopped onion, and oregano to taste, munch on a side plate of chicharron (pork skin), and wash it down with a cool cerveza. Corona is the most famous, internationally, but if you want to indulge in something that only Mexicans can sample, order yourself a Victoria — it’s produced for the national market only.

Photographer: Gary Denness

I am a Brit living in Mexico City and teaching English to businessmen and women. I have been here since 2005 and married my Mexican wife in 2008.

Tex Pride

Tex Pride

If you are from Texas, one of your favorite types of foods is probably Tex-Mex: Mexican food with a Texas spin on it. Which means more salt, sour cream, cheese, guacamole, salsa — more flavor in general — than the original. Friends of mine who have moved out of state crave this food while they are away and make it one of their first priorities to eat it when they come back home. A Tex-Mex specialty, fajitas, can be chicken or beef or both and are usually served still sizzling and smoking. Throw that delicious meat in a flour or corn tortilla and cover it in all the fixings mentioned above and you’ll have one of the best meals ever created in the palm of your hand.

Photographer: Wade Griffith

I’m a professional photographer residing in Dallas, Texas. I currently shoot a wide variety of subjects including architecture, product, and portrait photography. My fine art portfolio is made up of street portraiture, vintage imagery, and urban and rural decay.

Big Flavor in Little China

Big Flavor in Little China

Dim sum, the Chinese feast of dumplings and other delectables, just wouldn’t be right without har gow. Nearly every holiday spent with my Cantonese family inevitably means a trip to dim sum and ordering a dozen bamboo dishes of food, including these shrimp dumplings. We have called Cupertino, California, home for many years, and the har gow here tastes as good as (if not better than) the offerings in China. Besides the taste, my favorite part is seeing the sinful jewels of fat glistening on the har gow’s pleated wrapper. No doubt loaded with cholesterol and bad carbs, this is, however, absolutely worth it.

Photographer: Dana Chen

I am a freelance graphic designer in Los Angeles. Luckily, I also enjoy running, a hobby that allows me to eat things like dim sum without feeling guilty.

Burger Up

Burger Up

With so many delightful foodie gems in the Bay Area, and no shortage of variety, it’s hard to pick a favorite. But I love this particular meal not only because it makes my tummy rumble, but because it’s a unique variation on the classic hamburger: ground lamb, smoked gouda, braised cherries, bacon, and wilted arugula. Kudos to Matt Levin, owner of The Refuge in San Carlos, California, for providing this work of delicious art.

Photographer: Chris Schmauch

I’m a full-time professional designer and photographer working out of Santa Cruz, and serving the greater bay area and beyond.

Down to a Science

Down to a Science

Lunchbox Labs in Seattle is just a little place, so small in size that you could walk right by it and never know it was there … almost. But you might wonder why so many people were waiting in line in front of a tiny burger joint that looked like it could be blown away by a stiff breeze. If you waited in that line, placed an order, and took a big bite of the Burger of the Gods, you’d discover what you’d been missing.

Photographer: Sean Young

I am a film photographer living in Seattle.

Drink like an Egyptian

Drink like an Egyptian

Cairo offers minimal color and maximal dirt. The city’s juice stands, however, take advantage of fruit grown in the most fertile farmland in the world: the Nile Valley. The concoction shown here is a delicious reminder of the principles of density we all learned in eighth grade science. Tightly packed mango, strawberry and guava juices hold in chunks of banana and strawberry. At less than $0.50 apiece, this affordable treat seems like it could make eating fruit enticing enough even for American kids.

Photographer: Nate Stickney

I’m an English teacher in Cairo, Egypt, heading to South Korea in a month and a half.

Neighborhood Fuel

Neighborhood Fuel

Seattle is coffee. Some cities have gas stations on every corner, we have coffee houses. Many are retail stores representing large corporations but a good number are still small neighborhood spots. Patrons visit, sip, and relax, often while surfing the web. The coffee itself inspires cult-like followings but the venues are important too, especially during Seattle’s long rainy winter. Some of the local establishments conduct poetry readings for nearby elementary school kids as adults prepare to slog through the commute into downtown.

Photographer: Lincoln Graham

Lincoln Graham recently returned to Seattle from a bout of “endless peace and tranquility” in Montana and is regularly found being walked to the neighborhood coffee house by his Irish Wolfhound.

The Other San Francisco Treat

The Other San Francisco Treat

One thing our friends always want to do when visiting us in San Francisco is to eat clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl. This local delicacy can be found in little shacks near pier 39, at restaurants that serve only soups, and at one of San Francisco’s best known purveyors of sourdough bread, Boudin. Visitors can even take home fresh loaves of bread and canned clam chowder to re-create the experience at home.

Photographer: Jeremy Brooks

I’m a senior software engineer working in San Francisco. When I’m not behind a keyboard, I’m behind a lens shooting everything interesting around me.

Hometown Hero

Hometown Hero

What is it that makes a hometown what it is? To me it’s comfort and familiarity. When you ask what food represents my hometown in Texas I think of my Grandma’s potato soup and cornbread. Sure, it’s not a fancy restaurant dish or a commercial product but it is what brings us all together. This recipe came out of her Southern roots and Depression era mindset, and she’s shared this quintessential comfort food with family, friends, neighbors, and more people than I even know.

Photographer: Jamie Beck

I am a girl named Jamie, and I am a photographer in New York City. I still shoot with film, collect old cameras, enjoy drinking milk, and share my work on my photography blog, From Me To You.

Comfort from the Basics

Comfort from the Basics

No dish is more tempting than varenyky: potato-filled dumplings smothered with butter, fried, and then garnished with sauteed onions — and always served with sour cream! It’s the most traditional and the most delicious Ukrainian food. This picture is from Christmas (celebrated by the old calendar in January). My favorite varenyky are the ones homemade by my grandmother with lots of love. These meals remind me of my very best childhood memories in Sokal, a small town in the Western part of Ukraine, where I grew up.

Photographer: Maryana Hordeychuk

You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” - Ansel Adams

What Puts the Great in Great Britain

What Puts the Great in Great Britain

The meal I miss the most when away from Great Britain is the full English breakfast. When I travel I am often working really hard and a coffee and pastry just won’t cut it. But the problem is that a few obstacles get in the way of a good English breakfast abroad: finding the right kind of traditional Heinz baked beans, thick bacon, and good sausages. But this one — from the now defunct Opposition Cafe in Brighton, England — was just right. (Though I did get some strange looks for standing on my chair to get this shot.)

Photographer: Kevin Meredith

Kevin Meredith is a photographer, writer, and teacher in Brighton, England.

Homemade in Dublin

Homemade in Dublin

Pass me ta bowl of potatoes, will ya?” my host mother asked me while I watched her cook. Ireland is not my permanent residence, but I called it home for a summer. Complete with a host family and internship, I spent several months dining and drinking in the capital city, Dublin. My host mother would make dinner for her husband, two kids, and three exchange students every afternoon. Sometimes I would watch her prepare a meal if I got home early from my internship. She would hand mash all the potatoes and laughed when I told her I made mine from a box. The meal almost always included a potato, a slice of meat, and several vegetables. This is true Dublin cooking: not from a “traditional” restaurant, but an authentic Irish family.

Photographer: Britney Fitzgerald

I’m a senior at Christopher Newport University in Virginia. I’m majoring in Communication Studies and double-minoring in Journalism and Sociology.

Friday Feast

Friday Feast

Most Moroccans eat couscous every Friday. We’re not Moroccan, but we live here, and so we eat couscous every Friday with our hilarious neighbors who are hell-bent on fattening us up. This is no two minute couscous in a box: it’s hand-rolled, twice steamed, and simply puts all other couscous to shame. Yet another reason to wish it were Friday already.

Photographer: Steven Weinberg

Telephone and Soup” are Casey Scieszka and Steven Weinberg, collaborative artists/writers/illustrators who currently live in Rabat, Morocco.

One Man's Treasure

One Man’s Treasure

The “garbage plate” is a mess of greatness from a little shop called “Nick Tahou Hots” in Rochester, New York. This delicacy consists of macaroni salad, baked beans, a beef patty, home fries, and Nick’s secret sauce. You may think it sounds gross but your taste buds are missing out till you throw your face at this. Oh, and the more ketchup you use, the better!

Photographer: David Kelly

David Kelly is a photographer in Pittsburgh.

Soviet Sustenance

Soviet Sustenance

Plov (Uzbekistan’s version of pilaf) at its most basic is very simple — oil, onions, carrots, meat, and rice — but it’s enough to take me back to my homeland where it’s a national staple. Of course, this version, flavored with cumin, zereshk, pepper, and a whole head of steamed garlic, is my favorite. Add the Uzbek flatbread baked in a tandoori-style oven, and you’ve got a meal fit for kings!

Photographer: Andrei Zmievski

I am a web developer living and working in San Francisco. I enjoy photography, good food, and tasty drinks; I try to combine them all whenever I travel.

Gaucho Barbecue

Gaucho Barbecue

Each year the residents of my adopted home of Necochea, Argentina, put on an enormous asado (Argentine barbecue) in the city’s main square to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of the city. Chorizo sausages, huge slabs of beef and cross-cut ribs, and whole pigs are splayed out on large iron crosses. They’re left to cook for hours by a wood fire under the watchful eye of the asadores (barbecue pit masters). The meaty smokiness of the asado permeates your hair, your clothes, everything — but just one bite of that grass-fed Argentine beef makes it all worthwhile.

Photographer: Katie Alley

I’m an American expat living in a quiet, seaside town in Argentina. I work as a Spanish-English translator. I’m a blogger, foodie, and a shutterbug.

Peanut Party

Peanut Party

Boiled peanuts are a common snack across the South. In my neighborhood in Mississippi, we get together to boil and eat green peanuts every year in October. We turn it into a peanut block party, and alway serve “regular” and “cajun” (made with crawfish boil ingredients). Then we freeze the leftovers to eat at football games for the rest of the season.

Photographer: Mark Pinkerton

I am a mid-level manager with a financial services company and live in Madison, Mississippi. I eat my peanuts with fans of Mississippi State University and the University of Alabama.

Dear @Pictory:

We have one of the very few bean-to-bar chocolatiers in the US here in the Twin Cities: @RogueChocolate.”

Smart Tart

Smart Tart

There’s something special about the key lime pie from Joe’s Stone Crab. It might be the creamy tart filling, the cold whipped cream, or the buttery crumbly crust. Having grown up on Miami Beach, I can tell you without a doubt: this is one of the best key lime pies you’ll ever taste. (And with a little sleuthing on the web, you can find the recipe and give it a try for yourself!)

Photographer: Adam Lorber

I’m a paid graphic designer, unpaid photographer. Living in Los Angeles and traveling as often as I can, I recently decided to pick up my camera and start using it. Whether I’m using my Canon Powershot SX110is or my iPhone, I always have something on hand.

Cloud Cookie

Cloud Cookie

We found these giant meringues at the top of a ski hill near Oslo, Norway. Sure, meringues are originally a Swiss food, but they must be a local favorite in Oslo. This pistachio flavored one was delicious with some hot tea.

Photographer: Mike Baker

I’m a rural Ohio boy who’s all grown and living in a small town outside Charlotte, NC. I toil in a software factory for a living, but in my mind I am a photographer.

Sweet Advice

Sweet Advice

Three things you should know about Portland, Oregon. First, there’s no better way to begin your day than to sink your teeth into a maple syrup bar topped with strips of fried bacon from Voodoo Donuts. Second, you should then wash it down with coffee from Stumptown Roasters. Third, only tourists and Californians use umbrellas.

Photographer: Dave Tuttle

I am a purveyor of a good time in Portland, Oregon (and sometimes I take photos too).

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