While Central Florida might be one of the most famous destinations for its holiday scene and attractions, there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. The locals will insist the country’s appeal goes beyond the attractions – particularly when it comes to the Florida food and drink scene.
Popular Foods in Florida…
So, what food is Florida famous for? Take a look at the Sunshine State’s most iconic, edible offers…
1. Freshly-Squeezed Orange Juice
It’s no surprise that the orange plays a massive role in Florida’s economy, with the state producing the bulk of the citrus fruit in the United States. The delicious fruit can be relished in numerous ways but one of the most thirst-quenching is in its liquid form.
2. Rock Shrimp
As Florida food facts go, this is a good one. Around 40 years ago, rock shrimp couldn’t be eaten or sold – that is until a guy called Rodney Thompson came onto the scene in 1969. As legend has it, one afternoon, Thomson was upset at his disappointing efforts when it came to catching shrimp.
Though he managed to catch thousands of a shrimp known as “peanuts”, he couldn’t sell them. One day, a captain of the NOAA Research vessel approached him, saying if he could find out how to sell the peanuts, he’d become a millionaire. So, he imported the shrimp to fish markets – but no one dared take a bite.
Thomson even went as far as to pay shipping costs, but still had no luck. He didn’t give up hope, though. Instead, he and his daughter experimented with the shrimp. They split it open, butterflied and buttered it, threw it on a broiler… and voila. Rock shrimp was born. These days, you can purchase the shellfish at various seafood markets.
3. Conch Fritters
There’s a reason why Key West, Florida, is also often dubbed The Conch Republic. This tiny island is home to a glut of restaurants, cafes and markets where conch is obtained.
Conch is a large shellfish, or sea snail, which resides inside a large spiral shell. Conch fritters are created with chopped conch meat and vegetables such as sweet peppers and hot peppers, onions, and celery, which are then fried into small balls.
4. Key Lime Pie
Made from a small lime, the key lime, originates from the islands whilst the pie is made with lime juice, egg yolk, sweetened condensed milk, which is beaten together and baked in a pie crust.
Typically, the pie is topped with meringue and has been one of the top Florida state foods for many years – and it’s easy to see why!
5. Gator Bites
Let’s face it. Alligators aren’t admired for their bites – unless they’re edible. Most commonly served fried as gator “nuggets”, alligator is thought to have a veal-like quality and can be easily swapped with any dish containing seafood, chicken, or pork.
This delicacy appears in many menus in quite a few Florida restaurants and is served up in several ways. If you’re a gator newbie, then it’s probably best to try it covered in batter, balled up and fried to start with.
6. Cuban Sandwich
Roast ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard on Cuban bread – yum.
If you visit Florida, there’s no excuse not to try the famous sarnie in all its mouth-watering glory. It became a firm Floridian favourite in the 1960s when there was a flood of Cuban immigrants.
The sandwich was named the “signature sandwich of the city of Tampa” by Tampa’s city council in 2012.
7. Swamp Cabbage
You may know that the magnificent sabal palmetto is Florida’s state tree, but did you know you can eat it?
Found in the centre of the sabal palm trees, swamp cabbage is otherwise known as hearts of palm. Nowadays, these trees are protected by the law as the official state tree of Florida and are typically brought in from somewhere else and used to make salad.