Alligators, a long summer season, and great football are somethings that make Florida one of the most unique states in the country.
Many argue whether it is or is not part of the true South. Florida does have cultural similarities to its neighbors like Georgia and Alabama, especially in northern Florida. There is also heavy influence from other ethnic groups like the Jamaicans, Cubans, Haitians, Spanish, and Greek-Orthodox among others. Also unlike other southern states, the peninsula of Florida has access to marine life from the Gulf of Mexico to the west, Caribbean Sea to the south, and Atlantic Ocean to the east.
One of the best things about Florida is the cuisine! You may not be able find some of the foods on the list outside of Florida.
Think of this list as a bucket list of foods that you need to eat once you get to Florida for your vacation.
-Disclaimer- I am from Tampa, FL myself. At the time of writing this the Tampa Bay Lightning are in the NHL playoffs, GO BOLTS!!!!!!
15 Florida Foods
1. Orange Juice
This should be the number one thing associated to Florida. Our state even has a MLB team, the Tampa Rays, that play in Tropicana Field. Florida accounts for 66% of the US supply of oranges making up $1.5 billion each year in state revenue.
The Florida Growers have been making orange juice since 1938. They first developed the technology of freezing and concentrating the juice to supply American soldiers in WW2.
2. Fried Fair Foods (Oreos, donuts, Snickers)
The Florida State fair has been a tradition in the state since 1904. It has introduced its visitors to a variety of fun fair foods like deep fried Oreos and whole Snicker bars.
Did I mention that we have the best chocolate covered bacon in the country?
3. Grouper Sandwich
The grouper’s name come the Portuguese word garoupa. The warm waters around Florida allow for a variety of wildlife to populate the coasts. That means some of the best seafood in the world is on the menu every day.
Grouper sandwich comes either blackened with seasoning or deep fried. It is served with tartar sauce and slaw on a warm bun. It is a light meal best eaten on a beach restaurant.
4. Cuban Sandwich
Tampa is the home of the Cuban sandwich but Miami is the king. It was first developed by Cuban immigrants in the Ybor city district in downtown Tampa. However, the Miami variation featuring the classic ham, pork, pickles, cheese, and mustard on Cuban bread is the most popular.
5. Strawberry Shortcake
Plant City, FL is home to the annual Florida Strawberry Festival. Floridians are not only good at growing citrus but strawberries as well.
The strawberry shortcake is the combination of strawberries, shortcake, and whipped cream. It is a very simple dessert that packs a lot of flavor.
6. Fried Gator
No, I am not talking about UF…. One of my best friends went there while I went to the University of South Florida (USF). We have a bit of a rivalry
Anyways there is always a few Florida gator videos making it to mainstream news. So, what do you do when they are causing problems, you fry them! (Not all of them, Florida is very serious about wildlife preservation).
Gator tastes like a gamier version of duck to me. It is best served cut into pieces and deep fried with sauce. Then squeeze a little bit of a lemon juice on top.
7. Key Lime Pie
Originated from Key West, FL, key lime pie is one of the most recognizable desserts in the country. There are key lime jelly beans, ice cream, and even gum.
It is said that the limes grown in the keys are said to be the most tart and flavorful. The only way to know is to go to the Florida Keys yourself and try a big slice.
8. Conch Fritters
Most people will recognize the conch shell (the one you can apparently hear the ocean with). The actual conch itself is a snail that is chopped up and put into gumbos, stews, salads, and can be eaten raw.
My favorite adaptation is the fritter. Fritters are common throughout the South, made with a thick batter, vegetables, and meat that are fried into balls. I could eat them all day they are that good.
Continuing with Florida’s rich Spanish heritage is the empanada. It is a meat, vegetable, or cheese inside of fried or baked dough.
Mr. Empanada in Florida is a must for tourists.
The Spanish verb cortar means “to cut”. This Spanish drink is an espresso mixed (cut) with milk or sugar to make it tastier.
If you find yourself at an outdoor Cuban café in Miami or South Florida you should try it.
This brightly colored fish gets its name from the Hawaiian culture, meaning “very strong”. They are found primarily in tropical and subtropical waters around the globe. They are an excellent catch for any fishermen.
This fish is very fatty and has a “steak” like texture to it. It is best served grilled. These fish oils are composed of omega 3 oils that prevent cardiovascular disease.
12. Stone Crab Claw
Florida stone crab claws are interesting. While their bodies are small, their claws are large and powerful capable of cracking snails and clams. Their claws can be harvested then when placed back into the waters, the claws will regrow.
Crab claws are best eaten steamed with a butter & cocktail dipping sauces. Bubba Gump Shrimp Company is a staple in Florida for this delicacy.
13. Craft Beers
Cigar City (Tampa), Veterans United Craft Brewery (Jacksonville) & Funky Buddha Brewery (Ft Lauderdale) are some of the best in business. Out of all listed my favorite is the Cigar City Vanilla Maduro.
These brews are best enjoyed outside on a warm summer day.
14. Fried Plantains
There are dessert bananas and cooking bananas. Plantains are best served sliced into thin slices and fried in an oil. If you slice them thinly you have plantain chips. If you do them very thick and mash them, you can make a patty like an arepa or tostones.
Plantains are a staple of Caribbean islands like Cuba, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Haiti, and the Bahamas.
15. Jamaican Patties
Save the best for last right?
The best thing that Jamaica has given the world is Bob Marley. Jamaica’s most delicious gift is the patty. It resembles an empanada however it is made with curry powder in the dough giving it the yellow color.
The Golden Krust is the first Caribbean owned chain and has expanded to hundreds of restaurants. Their patties are incredible and come in a variety of flavors like beef, lobster, chicken, pork, goat, and vegetable.
Make sure you cross off a few of these delicious foods of your bucket list.
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Dr. CHRISTIAN-JEVON BRAMWELL MD
Christian Bramwell, MD uses his own weight loss story as teaching for people struggling with their own weight through blogging, teaching, and writing. His mission in life is to promote health and education, that is why he has chosen to be a family physician and found his own nonprofit Project RAK based on education and empowerment.
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