Out of all the states in the US, New Hampshire has one of the most fascinating food histories. Influenced by Native American, French, Canadian, and its own local fares such as fresh seafood and northern-growing crops. Over centuries, this has led to quite a blending of flavors and cooking methods to create something that’s entirely unique.
Some might call the cuisine ‘cozy’ while it’s also been described as ‘old-world.’ When it comes to the state having its own region dish – or, at least, one that’s classic to its roots – there’s not much. What there are, however, are a plethora of options that speak highly to the history of New Hampshire. Among these, there are some that simply shouldn’t be missed and might even be worth traveling for.
So, What Is The Official State Food?
According to News from New Hampshire and NPR, the official state food of New Hampshire is only classified as ‘boiled dinner.’ This, quite literally, could encompass anything from boiled potatoes and meat to seafood that’s been boiled until cooked. It’s not very descriptive and, in full truth, it’s not a very accurate portrayal of the foods that visitors have access to once they cross the state line. New Hampshire is land-locked with the exception of a line of cities and towns from Portsmouth to Seabrook, thus influencing the cuisine even more so with the addition of fresh seafood. However, this still doesn’t account for the rest of the state.
Many have argued the case for apple cider donuts being the state’s official food; however, Vermont also lays claim to this. Additionally, lobster – freshly caught – is considered another iconic New Hampshire dish, but Maine also lays claim to that, as well.
It’s Actually A Collection Of Dishes, All Of Which Shape New Hampshire’s Food Culture
It would be more accurate to detail the list of dishes that make up New Hampshire’s cuisine, as a whole. From the crops that originally grew on their soil to the European-style dishes that give some menus that ‘old-world’ feel. The variety is part of why navigating any New Hampshire restaurant menu is so much fun, and knowing each dish comes with history makes it even better.
Boiled Meat And Potatoes
This dish is something that can be found on many inland menus and though it’s not the most appetizing, it is one of the oldest dishes still served. Usually, the dish starts out with brisket or ham that’s been boiled with vegetables such as cabbage, potatoes, and carrots. The flavor might be far from what many expect when they think of meat and potatoes, but it’s a cozy-warm dish that gets visitors through the cold winter months.
Lake Bass (Usually Fried)
New Hampshire is also a state that’s known for its lakes and the residents who fish in them. One of the most popular fish that’s caught is the lake bass, which makes for a great dinner once it’s been cleaned and fried. With fishing being such a huge pastime in this New England state, it’s not surprising to know that seafood is popular both on the coast and inland; freshwater fish and saltwater fish both make the menu in some places.
New England Clam Chowder
Some might say that this was borrowed from Massachusetts while others stand by their tomato-based Manhattan chowder; either way, it’s been ingrained into New Hampshire food culture for some time now. The addition of certain vegetables (corn, for example) is a great example of how the original crops of the state have been incorporated into dishes over time. Even to this day, it wouldn’t be unusual to find corn chowder on menus due to the fact that the crop takes so well to the soil. New England brings harsh weather, which means other root vegetables – such as potatoes – do very well; thus, they’re used in chowders.
In conjunction with apple cider donuts, it’s not surprising to know that apple pie is another contender on the list of foods that could become the ‘official’ state food of New Hampshire. It’s not tough to find apple orchards throughout the state (in fact, many are within a long stone’s throw of one another), and with that comes baked goods. Many of the state’s best foods are influenced by the growing season.
Hunting is a pastime that’s equally as popular as fishing in New Hampshire, which makes venison a high commodity. While it’s not found in every restaurant, there are places that offer it on the menu in one form or another. If nothing else, it’s likely something that will be served in the homes of those who live in the more rural parts of the state.
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