If I were a bucket-list type person, Iíd include a culinary tour of the United States among the things Iíd most like to do. Hereís how the trip would go.
Iíd start out from Barbecue City, of course, and head north. First stop: Washington, D.C., to visit the National Mall, one of the most popular spots in America. Iíd see the sights and treat myself to a bowl of the famous Senate bean soup with a side of half smokes. No, thatís not a cigarette butt; itís a wiener-like sausage, half beef and half pork, served up streetwise in the capital city.
A little farther north and Iíd stop at Atlantic City for a jaunt by the sea. Whatís the Boardwalk in Atlantic City without a box of the famous salt-water taffy? Iíd go for ďthe ripperĒ also, a hot dog deep fried in hot oil until it splits open, served on a bun with slaw or sauerkraut. Calories donít count on vacations.
Iíll bop over to Philadelphia for a look at Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, after which I shall dine on a Philly cheese steak sandwich and maybe a soft pretzel and a hunk of Irish potato candy.
New York City is the next stop ó Times Square, Central Park, Grand Central, Broadway shows, the Met, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdaleís and any kind of food your heart and palate desires. Itís famous for its pizza, of course, and for bagels, cheesecake and Delmonico steaks. Itís the place for gourmet dining, ethnic food and donít forget lobster Newberg, which was invented in the Big Apple.
Most everybodyís dream tour of the USA includes a trip to Niagara Falls. After a ride on the Queen of the Mist and a photo-taking session, I think Iíll sneak across the border for a plateful of Ontarioís specialty, poutine (fries covered with cheese curds and brown gravy).
On to Boston, to the site of Faneuil Hall Marketplace and Fenway Park (go, Sox) and the Big Dig and The Old North Church. After seeing the sights, it will be time to dig into a bowl of Boston baked beans, Boston Clam Chowder and Boston cream pie. Oops, donít forget a Fenway frank and a steak bomb, washed down with an ice-cold Harpoon (local craft beer).
My tour will head westward, with a stop in Chicago for a deep dish pizza as well as a walk on the Magnificent Mile and a game or two at Wrigley Field, then up to Michiganís Mackinac Island for a buffet lunch at the Grand Hotel. I hear the butternut squash soup is well worth the effort.
The northwest beckons. Pike Place Market in Seattle is the destination, where Iíll surely dine on Alaskan king crab, Pacific salmon, geoduck (a large clam pronounced ďgooey duckĒ) and maybe a bite or two of elk or caribou. I donít know about the Akutag (Alaskan ice cream), made with animal fat, snow, berries, oil and fish.
Next stop, San Francisco with its Golden Gate Bridge, its cable cars and Fishermanís Wharf. Iíll fill my bowl with cioppino, for sure, and butter up a big chunk of sourdough bread to go with it. Iíll save room for a Cobb salad, though, and a side dish of crab Louie. Yummy.
Arizona and the Grand Canyon await me, as do nopales (cactus), fry bread and chimichangas, which the Copper State claims as its own. Iíll dash up to Vegas to do the Strip and with all my winnings Iíll treat myself to a shrimp cocktail or dinner at one of the 200-plus buffets (all you can eat crab legs, anybody?).
Iíll take the San Antonio Riverwalk in Texas, after which Iíll partake of chicken-fried steak, Texas sheet cake and Tex-Mex, of course, then on to New Orleans for beignets at the French Quarter, jambalaya and crawfish pie-ah.
Last stop is a ďgotta-goĒ on any American vacation tour, a couple of days in Buena Vista, Fla., at Walt Disney World. Epcot and The Magic Kingdom are calling my name, as is a big slice of the Sunshine Stateís claim to fame, Key Lime Pie. Iíll have a Cubano, for sure, and just maybe a plateful of grits and grunt.
Back to Barbecue City, and Iíll have hit most of the high spots on Americaís list of favorite places to go this summer and eaten most of the delicious specialties they have to offer.
Looks like my next stop will have to be one of those fat farms where they feed you lettuce and ice water.
Lexington (N.C.) Dispatch correspondent Page H. Onorato is a retired teacher.