¡Ask a Comida Critic! What is OC's Regional Cuisine?
From Spencer two cubicles away from me:
So I'm going to [vacation spot], and will be hosted by a family. Apparently, it's a cultural thing that guests treat their host family with food from the region they're from. What can I give them?
The obvious answer would be any of our ethnic cuisines that you can find best in Orange County and few other places--Vietnamese, Middle Eastern, chilango, Michoacán--but those cuisines aren't indigenous to OC. Nor is Mexican-American cuisine, at least the way we know it today. Valencia oranges? Maybe back in the day, but I doubt Spencer wants me to give him that as an answer without me going on a rant about the Citrus War.
I wish the padres hadn't destroyed Juaneño culture so much that few of their recipes didn't stick around, although my chica knows how to make a wonderful acorn bread. Though Orange County is now home to many fast-food chain empires, their offerings weren't created in OC--even Old Man Karcher got the idea for a hamburger from somewhere else.
We're left with three options: the Kogi taco (remember that the founder attended Villa Park High), the Balboa bar and the boysenberry. I suggest Spencer take his hosts a jar of boysenberry jam, not only for its delicious, tart flavor, but because it tells the Orange County story of bigotry and capitalism well. Mmmm...that's good hate!
Got a spicy question for the Comida Critic? Leave it in the comments!
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Orange County dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.