When asked if I would write a column on American cuisine, I said: why not? Just because there isn’t a “Club America” on campus doesn’t mean the topic is off-limits (although I would be very interested to see what a “Club America” would actually look like). The U.S.A. is full of good food from state to state. So how could I even begin to cover the entire country? The answer — with a little help from my friends.

Believe it or not, not everyone at Georgetown is from New Jersey or California. But those states are as good to start with as any. Colleen Tapen (COL ’13) meets up with friends from high school at O’Bagel in her native New Jersey for what she calls “the best bagels around.” You can get them with authentic Taylor Ham (pork roll) — although Colleen admits she’s never tried the packaged meat product herself!

My Californian girls, Kaitlin Carano (COL ’13) and Alejandra Martinez (SFS ’13) represent both ends of the state. Carano, from Silicon Valley, always gets “fresh fruit, amazing smoothies and paninis” at her local market. Martinez, from Los Angeles, has a different take on Cali food. “When I get home, my huge Mexican family gets together and we have a barbeque. My mom makes a ton of side dishes, including some awesome guacamole, and my dad grills corn on the cob, “she said.

On his ranch in Marana, Ariz., Bryan Stilson (SFS ’13) has been known to “fry up a rattler” or two. When he’s not hunting for his meal, Stilson also loves Mexican food. “The real stuff: fried carne asada with white queso on a flour tortilla and carnitas on corn tortilla tacos, served with hot sauce, jalapeños and limes,” he said. “The cheapest places are the best, like out of the back of a truck. Usually they also have imported Mexican Coca-Cola, out of a glass bottle and made with real sugar cane. Yum.”

The flight to Honolulu, Hawaii is a long one — so Susan Tan (COL ’13) doesn’t go home too often. She often craves spicy ahi rolls and Spam musubi. “In Hawaii, Spam is a staple,” she said. “They even serve it at McDonald’s. Not kidding!”

She also loves local Hawaiian fare, like kalua pig with cabbage and haupia (coconut) pie. As if one would need any more reasons to visit Hawaii!

Lillian Cowles (NHS ’13) raves about Louisiana’s cuisine. “Right now is the perfect time for crawfish! The shells aren’t too hard and the crawfish are huge right now. There is nothing like homemade gumbo — you just have to get the roux right. And you can never go wrong with good ol’ red beans and rice,” she said.

Some friends mentioned quirkier hometown offerings. Christian Lambert (SFS ‘13), of Elmira, N.Y., enlightened me with the wonders of “green stuff,” marshmallow fluff with green food coloring. “We put it on everything.” he said.

“The one food that is very specific to Erie, Pa. is the pepperoni ball – a ball of soft bread with oodles of butter and pepperoni on the inside,” Amanda Lanzillo (SFS ’13) said. “However, my parents are sort of health freaks, so we rarely eat them. Although, I used to buy them outside my high school at home after a bad exam or stressful day.” I would too, Amanda. On any day of the week …

Others love foods that aren’t state-specific, but home just wouldn’t be home without them. Ani Zotti (SFS ’13) frequents Little India on Chicago, Ill.’s Devon Avenue “The best time to go is right around twilight in the summer, when you can experience a whole feast just by walking along the street and smelling all the different dinners that are being cooked by little old wrinkly Indian women in colorful saris,” she said.

Daniel Healy (COL ’13), from Southborough, Mass., always makes sure to stop by his grandmother’s house for authentic pierogi whenever he’s home.

Jordan Denari (SFS ’13) looks forward to simple pleasures at home in Indianapolis, Ind., like homemade popcorn made in her family’s movie theatre style popper.

One of the things I love most about Georgetown is that many students seem to come here on their own, without many peers from high school or their hometowns, making it so easy to meet people from different places. I’m lucky to have friends in all corners of the country — and hope to sample all of the unique foods their hometowns have to offer someday!

 

Christina Crisostomo is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service. She can be reached at crisostomo@thehoya.com. Breaking Bread appears every other Friday in the guide.

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