These days, there are people making artisanal tortillas in Ireland, small-batch soy sauce in Kentucky, and Spanish-style sausage in southwestern Georgia. It might be hard to remember, then, that there was a time when certain foods were so strongly identified with their place of origin or manufacture that the names of products and locales were permanently linked. (Here’s the strangest food from every state.)
The association between food and place, however, has grown tenuous, and in most cases geographical references today indicate a style (or aspirations to a style) rather than an actual source.
Sometimes the terms are strictly fanciful or applied for other than the expected reasons anyway. English muffins don’t come from England (they were invented by an Englishman in New York City), German chocolate cake isn’t Teutonic in origin (it was named for chocolatier Samuel German), and Jerusalem artichokes have nothing to do with Israel (they’re the root of a kind of sunflower, and “Jerusalem” is a corruption of the Italian name for that plant, girasole.)
In other cases, there was once a legitimate connection — Buffalo wings were invented in the New York State city whose name they bear; Dijon mustard originally came only from the region of Dijon in Burgundy — but the food itself has become ubiquitous and its place of origin has been practically forgotten. (For wings as well as other chicken preparations, these are the 35 best fried chicken places in America.)
Nonetheless, over time, some foodstuffs and some dishes have mutually increased each other’s renown through their association. Baked beans didn’t really make Boston famous, but it’s hard to think of one without the other; likewise Peking and duck (even if the city has long since been known as Beijing).
Here are 25 foods, most of them well-known, named after places that may or may not have been famous in their own right but whose celebrity certainly hasn’t suffered through links with something good to eat.
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