Each state identifies with a specific cuisine. The differences are with their unique flavor profiles, recipes, and preparation methods. These foods have traditional roots tied to area history and ingredient availability. Many families have a treasured collection of carefully guarded instructions, handed down from one generation to the next in tattered old cookbooks. The pages of these cherished heirlooms hold the secrets of family favorites for special occasions and daily staples alike. Their beginnings come from a variety of influences, including ties to immigrant communities who brought with them knowledge of flavorings and spices from their homelands.

01Alabama: Southern Tomato Pie

Savory tomato pie Mariha-kitchen / Getty Images

Alabamians have a special attachment to this dish. Most culinary experts trace the delectable tomato pie’s roots to a recipe featured in a magazine in the late 1970s. To make it, chefs line a pie crust with a combination of garden-fresh tomatoes, chopped green onions, garlic, and basil, then top it with a mixture of cheese and mayonnaise. Some prefer Vidalia onions added to the cheese mixture. Each cook then bakes, slices, and serves this flavorful concoction as a side dish, on its own, or with a green salad.