I moved from my home state of New Jersey to suburban St. Louis as a high school freshman, and I was in shock—food shock. I was used to eating all of my favorite New Jersey foods and resented having to change my routine. Remember, I was a stubborn 15-year old. I missed Texas wieners (or, hot dogs covered with spicy chili sauce for the uninitiated) that my mother introduced me to. I craved the oversized, oily pizzas with lots of cheese and almost everything my Italian grandmother made—chicken parmesan, zeppole and meatballs.
Eventually, though, I realized that the proud people of St. Louis have some pretty good food tricks up their sleeves. Against my better judgment, I fell in love with toasted ravioli, breaded and deep-fried cheese ravioli dipped in marinara. Gooey butter cake (shown above) was a revelation, and it is still one of the most insanely rich, sweet and buttery treats I’ve ever tasted. Most memorable are the concretes, dense frozen custard with lots of mix-ins, from the famous Ted Drewes. My favorite was the Cardinal sin (with hot fudge and cherries), a dessert always worth the 40-minute trek from my parents’ house.
What are some of your favorite hometown specialties?
[Gooey Butter Cake image courtesy of CakeSpy]