Sampling the different regional delicacies and ingredients available is one of the delights of traveling far away. But just crossing state lines can be enough to change up what shows up on your plate, as this map of the most distinctive foods in every state reveals.
Researchers Daniel Fried, Mihai Surdeanu, Stephen Kobourov, and Melanie Hingle at the University of Arizona took a look at all the tweets we send out about food and used the data to get a picture of how people are eating all around the nation. The results are posted in a working paper up on arXiv.
There are some interesting notes in the paper on when, how, and what we're eating (and then tweeting about). Especially fascinating, though were the results that focused on the regional differences in those trends, like this look at the most popular — and distinctive — foods from each states that pop up on Twitter.
Fried et al. broke down their results even a little further with this list of terms that appear most frequently in a handful of American cities. Unsurprisingly, Austin is all about the tacos, while New York-based tweeters betray an obsession with brunch that is, frankly, baffling.
New Yorkers fascination with brunch is apparently part of a regional peculiarity, as the map below, which shows around what meal each region's heaviest tweeting centers around. While brunch holds the top spot in the northeast, dinner fans should head west. The best bets for a good lunch are further south. We also send our congratulations to the Midwest on correctly identifying breakfast as the best meal.
The authors also put together a website where you can break down their results into comparisons, like this map I made of states that tweet about tofu vs. states that tweet about steak (the exception being Wyoming, where they simply refuse to choose between them.)
What are some of the local specialities where you are? Tell us about them — what they are, where to get them, and how they're made — in the comments!
Top image of steak on a grill / LoboStudioHamburg
All maps and charts / Fried et al, University of Arizona