Having grown up in the Air Force, I have often observed the “homogenization” of the United States. It seemed to me that regional differences were disappearing, and you could get a Big Mac and fries pretty much anywhere. Sad.
My husband and I moved to Utah in 1996, and I kept my eyes open for foods that were special to that area. We didn’t find much. And, man, did we miss St. Louis pizza! I know St. Louis pizza has gotten a bad rap in the media lately, and, please believe me, most of us who enjoy that thin-crust specialty also like the occasional deep dish delicacy from Chicago or drippy slice from NYC. It’s just that no one wants to eat predictable franchise pizza every Friday night.
I was disappointed earlier this week when I was unable to find Louisa frozen cannelloni (or ravioli) in the grocery store here in NW Arkansas. After begging my sister for dinner ideas, she came up with adding a nice marinara and provel cheese to frozen cannelloni for a good “fake it” weeknight dinner. Now I knew it would be a stretch to find the St. Louis brand Louisa here, but not even a substitute! (And we can’t find any decent Italian restaurants, either.)
However, you’ve got to take the bad with the good, and the lovely surprise is that this area is teeming with Mexican specialty food. So I switched Italian night to Mexican night and picked up fresh tortillas, real chipotle peppers, and even that crumbly white cheese, cotija. These things are not easy to find in St. Louis. I decided to try to make a more authentic enchilada, using red sauce and corn tortillas rather than white sauce and flour tortillas, which have far less flavor (and nutritional value!). Ended up using mostly this recipe from Tyler Florence, http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/chicken-enchiladas-recipe/index.html and it actually smelled like a Taqueria in the kitchen! The whole family and an extra teenager were pleased. Yum! and Yay for regional differences!