The USA's Most Unusual Dishes

Photo of Elizabeth Nicholas
21 December 2017

The US might be most famous for burgers, fries, and hot dogs, but the country has a few more unusual local delicacies. Here are some of the strangest meals the States has to offer.

Ambrosia Salad, Alabama

Ambrosia means “food of the gods,” but only those with a very particular palette agree that the this dish fits the bill. A compendium of the sweetest items in anyone’s pantry, the Alabama crowd-pleaser is made of canned sweetened fruit, mini marshmallows, shredded coconut, and sour cream or Cool Whip.

Moon Juice, California

A uniquely LA phenomenon, Moon Juice is a haven of medicinal foods founded by Amanda Chantal Bacon. In the world according to Moon Juice, a stocked pantry includes activated cashews, pink salt, and a series of what Bacon calls “dusts,” which are ostensibly good for your brain, body, and soul.

Clam Pizza, Connecticut

No matter your take on the optimal pizza, there are few people not from Connecticut who would agree that clams on top of white-sauce pizza sounds like an excellent idea. But people in the state are devotees of the uniquely textured concoction and tend to agree that the best pies can be found at either Mystic Pizza or Frank Pepe’s in New Haven.

Clam pizza | © Krista/Flickr

Gator Tail, Florida

Gator tail is not a euphemism for something else. This dish is literally the tails of alligators, and people in Florida love them. They roast them on spits, garnish burgers with them, and deep fry them.

SPAM Musubi, Hawaii

If ever two items of food were incongruous, they would be SPAM and nigiri; the former is canned mystery meat, and the latter is most commonly associated with sashimi-grade fish. Hawaii combines the two in SPAM Musubi, in which the SPAM is placed where the fresh fish would otherwise be.

Brain Sandwich, Indiana

Another questionable dish that is exactly as it sounds, the brain sandwich is especially popular in Southern Indiana. Other than making a switch from cow to pig brains around the time of mad cow disease, the state delicacy has remained unchanged for decades—breaded and fried with a dash of mustard.

Nutria, Louisiana

Nutria is a large, semi-aquatic river rat found in Louisiana and is sometimes cooked in a Crock-Pot and seasoned with Cajun spices. No matter what it tastes like, it is still a giant rodent.

Nutria | © Woozie2010/Flickr

Pickle Dog, Minnesota

One of the most creative food combinations on the list, the pickle dog is a pickle smothered in cream cheese and then wrapped in a slice of roast beef. Unsurprisingly, it is mostly consumed (in vast quantities) at the Minnesota State Fair.

Koolickle, Mississippi

Possibly among the most visually shocking dishes, the Koolickle is a Mississippi delicacy made by soaking pickles in Kool-Aid. Appearances aside, the Koolickle receives high marks from those who have tried it for its sweet-and-salty combination.

Livermush, North Carolina

With a name like livermush, it’s difficult to convince anyone from outside of North Carolina to take a risk on the state’s signature dish. Livermush is a combination of pig liver, head parts, and cornmeal that is then baked in the shape of a brick.

Fried Rattlesnake, Oklahoma

Oklahomans love fried rattlesnake so much that they devoted an entire festival to it. But unless you’re from the state, you likely don’t want rattlesnake any closer to you when it’s fried than you did when it was alive.

Fried rattlesnake | © Kimberly Vardeman/Flickr

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