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Iowa food can be described as a part of the Midwestern cuisine of America with minor variations from the main cuisine. The main culinary traditions are heavily influenced by the European food culture although the state makes extensive use of its locally grown crops for preparing its signature dishes.

The pork tenderloin sandwich of Iowa is particularly famous and is consumed with ketchup, mayonnaise or mustard. Dill pickles are traditionally served with meat based dishes with almost all sandwiches bearing a similarity to the German schnitzel, a dish popularized by the German immigrants who settled in Central Iowa.

Corn remains the main produce of the region and a variety of breads, biscuits and other recipes make use of this nutritious and local crop which is available in abundance. Iowa also serves as the center for loose meat sandwiches along with Illinois, Nebraska and Indiana.

Spring berries, sweet morels along with tomatoes and melons are grown on every vegetable patch across the state which grows a significant amount of soybean together with the indigenous corn.

History of Iowa Cuisine

The European influence on Iowa dishes is strong and its wide range of pork based recipes are of German origin including the sausages, cassoulets and tenderloins relished by the residents of the state.

The huge amount of chicken eggs that the State produces also goes into its dishes which goes beyond the baked items and confections. Fritatas, quiches and even pizzas contain eggs as do the various casseroles available in Iowa.

A number of vegetarian alternatives to well known meat based dishes are popular in the state too with each of them being prepared from soybean, a crop that is produced in excess of 500 million bushels every year.

A solitary tree bearing the world famous Red Delicious Apple was first discovered in an Iowa orchard in 1872 and can be found in every store and food market in the country now.

Popular Food Items from Iowa Cuisine

  • Maid-Rite Sandwich- A loose meat sandwich served with onion rings and pickles without the accompanying ketchup.
  • Eskimo Pies- Considered to be an Iowa specialty, the combination of candy bar and ice-cream dates back to 1919 when Christian Nelson first created it.
  • Leek and Pig Tail Soup- Considered to be a main dish rather than a starter, this Iowa food is prepared by boiling pig tails and leeks together in water and olive oil.
  • Iowa Slaw- A dish of finely sliced cabbage sprinkled with a sauce containing mustard, eggs, sour cream and flour.
  • Bread Dumplings- A traditional dish made with stale bread and soda water, it is often served with roast dishes.

Places Famous for Iowa Food

  • OxYoke Inn Restaurant-specializes in serving family style food cooked by following the age old recipes that have been from generation to generation.
  • Cafe Dodici- Famous for its Sunday brunches which consists of wholesome Iowa fare.
  • Devotay- Serves typical food from Iowa cooked with fresh local produces that comes straight from the farmers.

Cuisine of Iowa: Trivia

The slow food movement has been gaining ground in the state which encourages Iowa food to be cooked with locally produced ingredients only.