The Strangest Local Delicacies that America Has to Offer

Manyakotic | Dreamstime.com

Culinary explorers crossing America, “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” will likely come across a fair number of people exercising their gastronomic freedoms in creative ways. And by whipping up some local grub that—depending on individual tastes—may actually be delicious, or else might require a certain amount of bravery to even tuck into, different regions are making their mark on the cooking map. In celebration of all of that’s weird and funky out there as far as what folks are filling their bellies with, let’s take a look at of some of American’s most unusual regional cuisine.—Carl Pettit  

Scrapple by amanda kelso [CC BY-ND 2.0]

Scrapple

WHERE: Pennsylvania

While many chowhounds undoubtedly love scrapple, this loafed dish definitely does not make use of the best parts of the hog. Scrapple, another dish originating from the Pennsylvania Dutch, uses the leftover bits of the pig (entrails, heart, liver, skin, stock, tongue), combined with garlic, onion, salt and several other spices, all mixed tighter with buckwheat and cornmeal to create a glorious pork loaf.

Insider Tip: The original recipe has been around for hundreds of years, although updated fusion recipes can be sampled in foodie enclaves like Los Angeles, New York, and other culinary hotspots.

Where to Find It: Groff's Meats in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Pennsylvania Dutch Country Travel Guide

Kool Aid Pickles by Social_Stratification [CC BY-ND 2.0]

Kool-Aid Pickles (Koolickles)

WHERE: Alabama

Who would have ever imagined the Kool-Aid Man busting through a wall and handing you a refreshing … pickle? If you happen to be hanging out in Alabama or Mississippi, as well as other locales in the Deep South, you can dig into a jar of sweet and sour Kool-Aid pickles (also know as Koolickles). But don’t fret if you live somewhere else. Anyone who has access to dill pickles, sugar, and a few Kool-Aid packets can stir up a batch of these peculiar treats in no time at all.

Where to Find It: State and county fairs in the American South

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Alabama Travel Guide

Keithbrooks | Dreamstime.com

Grilled Gator Kabobs

WHERE: Florida

If the gator doesn’t eat you, you might as well eat the gator, right? Anyone who loves reptilian protein should be delighted with a pile of zesty alligator kabobs. And of course, Florida, with an abundance of gators, is the perfect spot for them. Lather up your gator with barbecue sauce, mustard, Cajun dry rub, or whatever else you’d normally use, then grill ‘em and get ready to chow down while trying to figure out if they taste more like chicken or pork.

Where to Find It: Everglades Gator Grill in Homestead, Florida.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Florida Travel Guide

Nikkigensert | Dreamstime.com

Loco Moco

WHERE: Hawaii

When you want to dive into something substantial that will sit in your stomach for hours on end, Hawaii’s loco moco is guaranteed to satisfy. This edible behemoth is comprised of a hamburger patty plopped down on a bed of sticky rice with a fried egg atop the entire mess. And for good measure, the heap is doused with brown gravy. While recipes can vary, this Hawaiian favorite is bound to make you feel warm and happy all over—and probably a little sleepy while you digest all that food.

Insider Tip: If hamburger isn’t for you, you can swap the beef patty out for bacon, chicken, ham, seafood or some other protein or vegetarian (tofu) choice more to your liking.

Where to Find It: Heavenly in Waikiki, Honolulu, Hawaii

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Hawaii Travel Guide

Natchitoches Meat Pies by Kimberly Vardeman [CC BY 2.0]

Natchitoches Meat Pie

WHERE: Louisiana

Down in Louisiana, you can sink your teeth into some lip-smacking Natchitoches meat pies. While these stuffed savory pastries don’t really qualify as strange (no weird organ meat or anything like that), they’re darn tasty. If you know what an empanada is, you already have a pretty good idea what a Natchitoche is. Packed with pork, beef, garlic, onions and other goodies, and shaped like little half moons, these zesty turnovers really hit the spot when your tummy starts to rumble.

Insider Tip: Natchitoches are a mixture of native American cooking (from the Natchitoches Indians) and Spanish cuisine, and have become a Louisiana staple, enjoyed throughout the state.

Where to Find It: Lasyone's Meat Pie Restaurant in Natchitoches, Louisiana

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Louisiana Travel Guide

stu_spivack via Wikimedia Commons, [CC BY-SA 2.0]

Hog Maw

WHERE: Pennsylvania

With a name like Hog Maw, how can you go wrong? This Germanic dish, which made its way onto the American culinary scene through the Pennsylvania Dutch, is trimmed pig stomach (gotta get rid of the fat) stuffed with salt, pepper, sausages, potatoes, and cabbage, all roasted to mouthwatering perfection. Some people balk at the idea of eating pig guts, but if you’re not a vegetarian or the kind of person who needs to know how the “sausage gets made,” why not give Hog Maw a try?

Insider Tip: While chitterlings (pig intestines) aren’t Hog Maw, if you have any emergency swine-based digestive organ cravings, this soul food staple just might help you satisfy that Hog Maw itch.

Where to Find It: Three Pines Tavern in Mount Holly Springs, Pennsylvania

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Pennsylvania Dutch Country Travel Guide

Rocky Mountain Oysters

WHERE: The American West

Rocky Mountain oysters have absolutely nothing to do with the sea, but if you don’t know what they are, they might seem pretty fishy. Rocky Mountain oysters are deep-fried bull testicles. If you can get over the fact that you’re gnawing on another mammal’s gonads, you might actually enjoy them. Ranchers (and others) who cleverly decided to use every part of the bull after castration gave this culinary phenomenon its start. Fried or grilled Rocky Mountain oysters pair nicely with a dipping sauce, making for a strange appetizer that might surprise your unsuspecting guests at your next dinner party.

Insider Tip: In Canada, Rocky Mountain oysters are known as prairie oysters, just in case you ever get a hankering for a few while traversing the land of the Canucks.

Where to Find It: Rocky Mountain Oyster Bar in Nederland, Colorado

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Travel Guide USA Travel Guide

Krista via Wikimedia Commons, [CC BY 2.0]

Cowboy Caviar

WHERE: The American South

When you scoop up a big spoonful of cowboy caviar, you won’t find a fish egg in sight. This delicious blend of black-eyed peas, black beans, cilantro, diced Roma tomatoes, honey, lime juice and sweet corn mixed with salt, pepper and other chopped veggies is a favorite in the American South. Cowboy Caviar is especially popular during the holiday season and on New Year’s Eve. It’s easy to make and great for dipping chips, and actually pretty healthy to boot.

Where to Find It: Trader Joe's across the United States

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s USA Travel Guide

Manyakotic | Dreamstime.com

Pickled Pig’s Feet

WHERE: Southern United States

Lots of people eat pig trotters, or pig’s feet. The Chinese and Koreans indulge, as do folks in Norway (it’s called syltelabb there) and other parts of Scandinavia, as well as in Great Britain, Mexico and beyond. Pickled hog footies, which usually coming in big jars, are a salty gelatinous snack that’s fairly popular in the Deep South. Instead of reaching for the popcorn or potato chips during the next big game, simply go “hog wild” and gnaw on some tasty pig’s feet.

Insider Tip: Pickled pig’s feet have been gaining in approval in gourmet food circles recently, and can now be found all over the country.

Where to Find It: Wayne’s Candy Company in Arkansas, Missouri, and Tennessee

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s USA Travel Guide

Fimbriatus | Dreamstime.com

Rattlesnake Chili

WHERE: The American Southwest

For adventurous gourmands who want a little extra bite with their chili, why not throw a rattlesnake into the mix? It’s not a complicated dish to prepare, and the name pretty much tells you all you need to know: simply whip up some chili, then chuck in some prepped rattlesnake meat. The real trick here is how you go about obtaining your rattlesnake, which of course isn’t readily available at your local supermarket.

Insider Tip: If you’ve never wrangled a poisonous rattlesnake before, get an expert to help you out and avoid a nasty snake bite or a trip to the emergency room. No bowl of chili is worth that.

Where to Find It: Rattlesnake round-ups (not without controversy) in the Southern United States

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s USA Travel Guide