After reading an article in this weekend’s New York Times about Utah’s unique Pastrami Burger, National Geographic writer Catherine L. Barker blogged about her own reporting on obscure regional foods a few years ago, when she discovered such local favorites as the Kringle, a round, flaky pastry in Racine, Wisconsin, or Livermush, a North Carolina delicacy that is exactly what it sounds like. It she also learned how passionate people are about their local tastes:

Early in my reporting I realized that people become strangely emotional when they are asked about their favorite foods. It’s as if Moon Pie or a conch fritter acts as the proverbial Madeleine, sparking a rush of memories–and a growling stomach. Some of my sources became defensive, some got excited; pretty much all of them were nostalgic. I spoke to one woman in Hawaii about Spam Musubi, a sort of sushi made with Spam, for at least an hour. Did you know that there’s a festival dedicated to this canned pork product every year in Waikiki? That’s devotion! And a bartender from Nevada was so enthusiastic about Picon Punch, he mailed me everything I needed to mix the potent drink

beloved by many of the west’s Basque émigrés. Some North Carolina residents waxed poetic in emails they sent me about livermush, a culinary mishmash of pig parts and cornmeal. I thought it sounded pretty revolting, and I spoke with other Southerners who agreed. From California to Connecticut, everyone I talked to had an opinion about their local food, and where to find the best of it.

Catherine is gathering more regional dishes over at NG Blog Central. Go share your favorites with her there. And check out the entire “United Tastes” series from the Times here.

Photo: A Kringle pastry, via NG Blog Central