Do Regional Favorites Translate?

April 8th, 2009

Philadelphia Flyers

A wise man once said (or, maybe it was a travel show host), that the best way to get to know a foreign city is to attend a sporting event. This week, Nathalie Pauleau-Larrey, our Color Engineer from David Michael Europe, is visiting the Philadelphia office. And last night, Danielle and I took her to a Flyers game.

Danielle (left) and Nathalie at the Phuladelphia Flyers game

Danielle (left) and Nathalie at the game

Since Nathalie is from the French countryside, an American-style sports arena was a first for her. She was amazed by everything – from the crowds, to the merchandise, but especially the food. Well, we wouldn’t be proud ambassadors if we didn’t introduce her to a few local favorites. So we enjoyed a carb-laden feast of crab fries and soft pretzels (with yellow mustard, of course). (Not cheesesteaks? You ask. This isn’t her first trip to Philly).

Nathalie and I enjoying our pretzels at the Philadelphia Flyers game!

Nathalie and I enjoying our pretzels!

My non-Philly readers are probably wondering, “what in the heck are crab fries?” They’re a concoction developed by local sports bar Chickie’s & Pete’s, and they’re delicious. You’d be surprised to find out that there’s no actual crab in said fries. Just crispy French fries, seasoning (Old Bay?) and American cheese dip….mmmmm…

The whole meal got me thinking about favorite regional foods. There’s been a few shows on the Food Network devoted to roadside bars and diners in the U.S., and the wacky things people eat there. And on the travel channel, food specific programs, as well as the traditional travel fare, take on more foreign regional specialties.

But, do these always translate? Well, it depends. In this country, for example, we’ve come to know many regional favorites nationwide. Philly Cheesesteak is available as a┬áDomino’s pizza topping. And Kansas City BBQ can be found in Vermont.

Other favorites, however, don’t catch on. I read about Kool-Aid marinated pickles, a Southern tradition, a few years back. And, that was about it… Now, deep-fried pickles? That’s another story.

Similarly, the occasional regional favorite makes it beyond the country of origin. Take cheesesteaks again. We’ve found Philly Cheesesteak flavored potato chips in such far away places as Japan!

With a focus on regional authenticity on restaurant menus, both in domestic and international foods, it will be interesting to see what has legs, and what doesn’t.

After all, not everything can become a worldwide phenomenon – sometimes favorites are more special when they stay local.

[P.S. – The Flyers won 2-1, and made the playoffs.]

2009 Philadelphia Flyers Winning Game

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