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Regional Cuisines: The Flavors of Florida

We’ve thought about featuring different American regional specialty foods for some time now, prompted by some food analysts’ prediction of the rise of regional dishes this year. Diners are now intent on savoring the flavors of their neighboring states, their penchant for the regional now almost equal to their penchant for the international.

So we think of New England’s chowder, Memphis’ barbeque and Low Country grits, and we’d think of all the others that could be great ideas for our chefs in outstanding chef clothing to explore on. We’re now starting with Florida’s cuisine, a mish mash of diverse exotic flavors which are combinations of the culinary styles of the Native Americans, Europeans, Minorcans, Cubans and the Caribbean people. We’ll talk about the famous Cuban Sandwich (or the Cuban Mix), Arroz con Pollo, the Key Lime Pie and conch fritters.

Cuban Mix

The Cuban Mix or Cuban Sandwich is an extremely popular sandwich variation of our ham and cheese, done Cuban style. Cold roasted pork, thinly sliced Swiss cheese, sweet pickles, yellow mustard, salami or thinly sliced Serrano ham are all spread out on buttered Cuban bread, often pressed in a grill called la piancha. In some restaurants they serve it with ropa vieja, a yummy variant beef stew, yellow rice and fried plantains.

Arroz Con Pollo

Arroz Con Pollo, Spanish for “rice with chicken,” is as popular in Florida as it is in Spain, Latin America, Puerto Rico, Cuba and Costa Rica. An easy, simple, one-pan, stove top dish that chefs around Miami and major Florida cities tweak to come up with their own special distinctive recipes.

Key Lime Pie

Key lime is the crown jewel of Florida’s Key West, hence the inspiration for the island’s most popular dessert. They’re smaller than common limes, have yellower, thinner skin and are more tart and aromatic. The perfect key lime pie can be found in the streets of Florida—not too tart nor too sweet, the crust is graham (and none other) and the whipped cream is kept to a minimum. Natives and tourists alike crave for this lip-smacking treat, and although there have been assortments in recent years, like key lime pie on a stick (which is smothered in sinful chocolaty goodness), the traditional version is still often sought out.

Conch Fritters

The conch, pronounced “conk,” is actually a type of large sea snail which is widely known for its glossy pink shell. Its tasty meat is much loved by Caribbean Islanders, and as time passed its appeal extended to the shores of Florida, adopting conch as their very own island escargot. Conch can be made into delectable soups, appetizing salads, and these delicious fritters—chunks of its chewy meat, often sliced very finely, are held together by a batter mixed with spices and peppers.

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Why are we telling you this? Perhaps to remind you of the many regional specialties that your chefs, in their superior chef clothing, can play around with. They can add their own distinct personalities to the dishes and come up with their very own specialty fare. Featuring regional cuisines in your restaurant can increase restaurant sales and liven up your restaurant marketing, where you can promote it through in-house posters, have email blasts using your customer database and eventually attract more diners.