If each state in America had an "official" meat, what would those state meats be? That's the question Slate Magazine attempted to answer in the article 'The United Steaks of America.' Slate's effort is impressive. Meats were not allowed to be used twice, only mammal meat qualified for the list, and stews and sandwiches were not necessarily eligible. Here's what was decided for Illinois, Missouri and Iowa:

Somsak Sudthangtum
Somsak Sudthangtum
  • Illinois: Portherhouse Steak
  • Missouri: Pork Spare Ribs
  • Iowa: Loose Meat

Chicago's history as a major center of the meatpacking industry, and its number of steakhouses were cited as reasons for choosing the porterhouse. It was also pointed out that "Illinois is kind of shaped like a porterhouse, too, if you squint at it," which might be the best reason of all.

For Missouri, the barbecue cultures of both Kansas City and St. Louis made the pork spare ribs an easy selection.

Loose meat was assigned to Iowa because of the Maid-Rite, which was invented in Muscatine in 1926. The Maid-Rite corporation is based in West Des Moines, and the majority of Maid-Rite restaurants are in Iowa.

You should click over and read the full article, which assigns a meat to every state in the nation (I'm personally grateful that we're not in Kentucky), and includes a map decorated with fun illustrations.

I thought the list presented in 'The United Steaks of America' represented our regional foods pretty accurately. The only two choices that I thought might also be good candidates for such a list would be the fried pork tenderloin or the pork steak.

What do you think? Are these great picks, or would you have made different choices? Let's take it a step further: What should be our official state side dishes?

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