Any good traveler knows that the best way to soak up culture is straight through the stomach by sampling the local cuisine. New Hampshire offers classic New England fare, drawing from the influence of nearby Canada and from its small swath of Atlantic coastline.
Like many other parts of New England, New Hampshire’s foods are reflective of its Puritan roots. Culinary tradition in this region focuses on hearty, warm, and comforting dishes that will keep your spirits up even through the long winters.
Here are some classic New Hampshire staples that are popular around the state.
Lobster actually started as peasant food, known along the northern coasts of the United States as a low-class cuisine. That reputation has entirely changed, and today the chance to sample the fresh delicacy is one of the most sought-after experiences for travelers making their way up the northeastern coast.
Though New Hampshire is not quite as well known for this food as neighboring Maine, it’s still a popular staple of New Hampshire’s culinary fare. Of particular popularity are lobster rolls, sandwiches unique to New England made of meat on an open-faced, grilled bun.
Pancakes With Maple Syrup
It’s true that Vermont holds the official claim to fame over maple syrup, but that certainly doesn’t mean that maple syrup in New Hampshire is any less noteworthy. The state produces somewhere around 90,000 gallons of maple syrup every sugaring season by tapping the many maple trees that comprise New Hampshire’s lush forests.
That prevalence has resulted in all kinds of variations of maple syrups and candies, but a classic drizzle of maple syrup over a thick stack of fluffy pancakes at one of the many diners located across the state is still the most common way to consume this treat.
Maple Walnut Ice Cream
However, once you’ve gotten your taste of this famous maple syrup, try sampling some maple walnut ice cream! New Hampshire is littered with local ice cream shops, parlors, and creameries. With so many options to choose from, it’s no wonder that ice cream is a favorite treat among residents here. To get the full New Hampshire experience, order the popular maple walnut flavor that capitalizes on the plentiful sweetness of all that wonderful maple syrup made in the state.
New England Clam Chowder
It would be a travesty to come this far into New England without recognizing the region’s most famous dish: clam chowder. There are a number of variations on this hearty soup, and it may be surprising to learn that people can get quite upset over which is the “right” version of clam chowder. Like many other states up north, New Hampshire’s variation is the classic “New England” version made with a cream base and potatoes.
Most chowder is served with a side of biscuits or oyster crackers and occasionally with some extra fanfare, like the addition of lobster or scallops.
We would be remiss not to mention the secret ingredient that makes New England clam chowder so scrumptious in the first place: the clams! A clambake is a quintessential summer tradition in this region, and New Hampshire is no exception. It’s possible to dig up your own clams on the beach (just look for where there are bubbles in the sand), but you’ll also be able to find them anywhere along the coast, as long as it’s clam season. They are typically served with salt water and melted butter for dunking.
Fried Lake Bass
New Hampshire’s rich outdoor landscapes of woods and lakes make popular with hunters and fishers. As a result, one of its more famous foods comes directly from its lakes: fried bass. While there’s nothing particularly special about the way that the fish is fried, it’s a common dish throughout the state due to the number of fresh lakes.
Apple Cider, Apple Cider Cocktails, Apple Wine, Apple Cider Donuts…
It’s apple everything here! New Hampshire is famous for its number of apple orchards scattered across the state, some of which grow nearly 100 different varieties of apples! As a result, apple ciders and related treats of all kinds are plentiful here. New Hampshire is even known for infusing that delicious apple flavor into their donuts: apple cider donuts almost always make an appearance on bakery menus throughout the state. Some of the top apple orchards in the state include, Alyson’s Orchard in Walpole, Gould Hill Farm in Contoocook, and Poverty Lane Orchards in Lebanon. If you’re crazy about apples, then the fall is the perfect time to rent a car and take an east coast road trip.
While New Hampshire may not be the original creator of this comfort food dish, they are known for having some the best poutine you can find in the U.S. due to its proximity to Canada. Originating in Quebec, poutine is an odd-sounding dish made with French-fried potatoes, brown gravy, and cheese curds. Poutine is often the butt of jokes, but it’s worth trying if you get this far north but don’t have the desire to cross the border.
This next food is tricky. According to U.S. law, serving authentically wild game in a restaurant is illegal. However, wild game in New Hampshire is a popular food for locals given the popularity of hunting within the state. Much of New Hampshire is covered in lush forests where locals often hunt for their own food. While you won’t be able to find wild game on sale anywhere, it’s definitely a bastion of cuisine here.
The last food on our list is a dish that is about as humble as it sounds. Boiled dinner consists of boiled corned beef surrounded by cabbage and root vegetables—often potatoes, carrots, rutabaga, parsnips, or beets—all also boiled. Originally a peasant meal from different parts of Europe, boiled dinner has become a staple in nearly all New England states. The hearty simplicity of the meal makes it popular in a state where winter temperatures can drop to well below freezing.
Overall, the foods most famous in New Hampshire are a reflection of the state’s history and proximity to nature, namely the lakes, oceans, and forests that make it possible to enjoy foods like maple syrup and seafood!
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