Signature Dishes

What is a "signature dish?" Well, for the home cook, it's that recipe that everyone always asks you to bring to a party. For a restaurant chef, it's the dish that—either by design or happenstance—brings the restaurant (and chef) fame. But let's take that notion and broaden the parameters. By my lights, a signature dish is also the hallmark of an era, a place (region, state, city), or just pop culture.

I have always been fascinated by signature dishes because I just love mysteries—and I have an obsession with time travel. Trying to pin down the origins of a well-known dish pretty much involves both of those things: tracking down the clues (like Nancy Drew, my idol) and jumping into a time machine to go and check it out (I know, I wish).

The notion took on life when I got to write an ongoing feature for Hallmark magazine (2006–2009). Although it is notoriously difficult/impossible to actually assign authorship to a dish, my favorite part of the research process was trying to figure out the authentic recipes . . . or as close as I could manage and still have a recipe someone in this century would want to eat.

So here is a collection of Signature Dishes. Maybe one day I'll get around to adding more stories here, but I do have a day job...

Signature Dishes


Benedictine Spread
Bowl of Red

By Course


Main Dishes

Soups & Stews

Sides & Salads


Breads & Pastries

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