From 'Gator Tail to Swamp Cabbage
Will the real Florida foods please stand up? From 'gator tail to orange juice to swamp cabbage, here's the scoop on foods that are truly from Florida.
Of course, we know and you know that Florida produces amazing oranges and the best orange juice around. Florida also has a lot of other foods to be proud of, too. Here's a taste of what Florida has to offer.
From the Waves
Because so much of Florida is surrounded by water, it's not surprising that many Florida foods come from the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. That includes spiny lobsters (also known as rock lobsters), which are caught off the Florida Keys from September through March. Unlike cold-water lobsters, only the tail meat is eaten from spiny lobsters, and it has a light, sweet taste that lends itself to steaming, broiling, or grilling.
The Apalachicola Bay, at the point where the Apalachicola River meets the Gulf of Mexico, is home to many of the oysters harvested from Florida's waters. These oysters are featured in local restaurants and elsewhere, and are praised as having a fresh, delicate, and slightly sweet taste when eaten on the half-shell.
Out of the Swamps
The swamps of Florida have added to Florida cuisine, as well. Alligator meat, while not widely featured on restaurant menus or dining room tables (yet), is currently available for purchase from 14 licensed alligator farms in Florida. Both white and dark alligator meat can be eaten, and recipes range from the traditional 'gator tail to grilled 'gator kabobs to spicy 'gator nuggets.
The swamps of Florida are also the basis for a long-time Florida tradition: swamp cabbage. It comes from inside the trunk of the cabbage palm and has a look and consistency similar to regular cabbage. Swamp cabbage can be seasoned and cooked with meat, eaten as part of a salad, or even pickled.
Fresh, Delicious Fruit
When you think of Florida fruit, you first think of oranges, of course! In central Florida, where our groves are located, the conditions are perfect for growing citrus, and our growers have been working this land and cultivating healthy, thriving citrus trees since the early 1900s.
In southern Florida, conditions favor tropical fruits, and a wide variety of exotic fruits is grown there. The most popular of these include mango, papaya, lychee, star fruit (or carambola), and passion fruit. All of these tropical fruits are also used in Florida's cuisine, often in sauces or toppings for grilled spiny lobster, fresh-caught Florida fish, and even 'gator kabobs.