New York State Food -
While trying to write the follow-up article to Platter Talk’s New England Cuisine, I came to realize that a short article about the culinary delights of the mid-Atlantic states is akin to writing The Lord’s Prayer on a grain of rice. I’m never going to be able to do it … So, I decided to do New York State by itself, and get to New York City and the rest of the Mid Atlantic states later.
About this food
The truth is, sometimes one picture IS worth 1,000 words, which is exactly why I’ve used the above food region map of New York state. Normally, when people hear that I’m from New York, they assume that means the city because that’s about as far as their knowledge extends concerning the empire state. I actually hail from theCroghan Bologna - Sharp Cheddar area, located about 300 miles northwest of New York City.
Being a loyal ex-pat of this beautiful area of our great land, I need to point out that New York State ranks 3rd in the nation for dairy production. Lewis County, where I come from, easily has a larger number of bovine than humans. In addition, wherever cheddar cheese is made, one can find copious amounts of fresh cheese curd to buy. These are tender, squeaky morsels of pure dairy goodness that are closer to mozzarella than cheddar cheese when freshly made, and are a precursor to finished cheddar cheese.
Famous foods and dishes from New York State are both homegrown and eclectically placed, owing to the fact that this large and varied state contains Long Island, the Adirondack Mountains, borders two of the nation's five Great Lakes and Canada. Oh. And one of the greatest cities in the world, the gateway to America is also part of the Empire State: New York City.
Speaking of the Big Apple, New York state is home to 40,000 acres of apple orchards, producing an estimated 1.26 billion pounds of apples. New York state's apple production ranking is 2nd only to Washington State.
Grab a fork and try a bite of one of Our Favorite Apple Pie Recipes
And, if you've never tried Apple Butter, our slow cooker apple butter recipe is as good as any you'll ever find!
Maple syrup was also left off the map, which accounts for much of the area's food nobility. Pure maple syrup is a natural sugar made by the evaporation of the sap of a sugar maple tree. This happens in the very late winter and early spring, once the trees start “waking up” from their winter slumber. Sweet liquid flows through the veins of the tree which are tapped so that the sap can drip into a pail or plastic conduit tube where the liquid ends up at the boiling station or “sugar house” as they are called. Forty gallons of sap are needed to make 1 gallon of pure maple syrup. Last year New York State produced 601,000 gallons of syrup coming in second in the U.S. to Vermont, in production.
Buffalo Wings were first served at the Anchor Bar in the city from which they are named. The year was 1964 as the story goes. Wings were delivered to the establishment by mistake. The owner asked his wife to “do something” with them and she came up with dropping them in the fryer.
Once crispy, she coated them in a sauce made of butter, vinegar, and hot sauce. She decided to serve them with blue cheese dressing and celery as accompaniments since she had nothing else. The rest, as they say, is history. Food history, that is.
Beef on weck
From the same side of New York state, Beef on Weck was created around 1837. Made with prime rib, tenderloin or eye of round, it is served on a kummelweck roll (German caraway-seed roll with a showing of the seed and large grains of salt on it’s outer limits). The properly served weck’s meat is thinly sliced at a rare to medium rare temperature . A generous amount of beef is then fully baptized in a very warm pool of au jus and placed on the roll. The top half cut side is slathered with creamy, potent horseradish sauce then set atop the beef and served with more au jus for dipping and a dill pickle. Lovely.
The home of potato chips
Who knew that potato chips were first made in New York state? As legend has it, in 1953 a cook at Moon’s Lake House in Saratoga, New York, by the name of George Crum made the first potato chip by accident. Moon’s was well known for their fried potatoes. A customer complained that his side of spuds was cut too thick. Crum remade the dish, cutting the potato thinner. Again, the customer complained and sent the potatoes back to the kitchen.
Fed up, Crum decided to cut the potatoes paper-thin, throw them into the frying vat and cook them until they were paper crisp, after which he salted them heavily to render them inedible. Or so he thought. The customer allegedly took one bite, then another, and proclaimed them the best tasting potato that he had ever had. At first, they were called Saratoga Chips and at some point were renamed to what we know of today as potato chips.
Finally, no story about New York State Food would be complete without mention (or a taste of) Cornell Chicken Barbecue. Dubbed as the unofficial food of the New York State Fair, this classic grilled chicken recipe was developed by a Cornell professor back in the early 20th century in an effort to enhance the demand for chickens that were raised by New York state farmers.
Fast forward a few decades where over 5,000 chickens are consumed on a daily basis at the annual state fair in Syracuse. I think it is safe to say that Cornell University Professor Dr. Robert Baker, who is credited with developing the recipe, handily realized his goal.
When you wrap all the available cuisines, land, water, and agricultural products of New York State, it is pretty easy to understand why it’s called the Empire State. It’s a great place to live or visit. It's an even better place to enjoy some fabulous food.