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8 Regional Breakfast Favorites That Should Go National

What’s better than waking up to sizzling bacon and fresh-cooked eggs? Waking up in Delaware to the smell of scrapple, or in New Jersey to the hangover cure that is Taylor Ham. Across the U.S., people are cooking up some unreal—and unusual—breakfast dishes, including these eight regional favorites that should be on every morning menu.

1. SPAM MUSUBI // HAWAII

You read that right: Spam for breakfast. Hawaii took that questionable blue can and turned it into a popular snack-turned-breakfast dish. Spam musubi puts a slice of grilled Spam between two blocks of rice, wrapped up with a sliver of dried seaweed. In other words, Spam sushi.

2. GOETTA // OHIO

Goetta, a mix of ground pork shoulder, beef, onion, spices, and pinhead oats, may sound more bizarre than appetizing, but it’s actually a breakfast icon in the greater Cincinnati area. The dish (pronounced get-uh) is a product of Cincinnati’s German roots, and is celebrated so widely that it has its own annual festival—the Glier’s GoettaFest in Newport, Kentucky. Meat lovers, mark your calendars: the next GoettaFest is August 2017. Until then, you can make your own at home to serve up with other breakfast staples like eggs and hashbrowns, or pancakes and syrup.

3. SHRIMP 'N' GRITS // THE SOUTH

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While it started as a quick breakfast for busy fishermen, shrimp 'n' grits have evolved into one of the south’s most sought-after comfort foods. Southerners dress up this porridge-y mix of seafood and cornmeal with toppings like bacon, jalapeños, peppers, and mushrooms.

4. TAYLOR HAM // NEW JERSEY

Taylor Ham—or "pork roll" depending on who you ask—has been an east coast favorite since 1856, when John Taylor of Trenton, New Jersey, introduced his secret pork roll recipe. Taylor Ham is sliced, grilled, and served on a round roll, typically accompanied by egg and cheese. While various types of pork rolls are served worldwide, New Jerseyans agree: The secret Taylor Ham recipe is the only way to go, and a bill was even introduced in April 2016 to make it the official state sandwich.

5. BEIGNET // NEW ORLEANS

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New Orleans locals know the best mornings begin with powdered sugar and carbs. The beignet—a pastry made from deep-fried dough—originated in France, and has evolved into a staple Creole dish, served fresh and hot with bananas, plantains, and a heavy dash of powdered sugar.

6. JOHNNYCAKES // NEW ENGLAND

With a recipe that only requires cornmeal, boiling water, and a dash of salt and sugar, the Johnnycake may seem like a dull breakfast option, but it's a tradition New Englanders have sworn by since the pilgrims landed at Plymouth. When their wheat spoiled on the Mayflower’s journey to America, the pilgrims adapted and learned to cook with corn as the Native Americans did. Today, the unleavened Johnnycake is served with maple syrup, honey, and a variety of other sweet toppings.

7. SCRAPPLE // DELAWARE

As a loaf of pork trimmings combined with cornmeal and flour, it’s easy to see where scrapple got its name. Scraps of pig snouts. Scraps of leftover livers. Scraps of (gulp) hearts. But Mid-Atlantic residents know the "don't ask, don't tell" approach is well worth it for the absolutely mind-boggling tastes this Delaware delicacy has to offer.

8. ENCHILADAS MONTADAS // NEW MEXICO

New Mexico turns the traditional enchilada into a huge, gooey, scrumptious breakfast meal. The enchilada montada consists of enchiladas stacked with red or green sauce, and onion and cheese layered throughout. The cherry on top of this southwestern delicacy? A fried egg. Elastic waistbands recommended.

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Big Questions
Why Don't We Eat Turkey Tails?
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Turkey sandwiches. Turkey soup. Roasted turkey. This year, Americans will consume roughly 245 million birds, with 46 million being prepared and presented on Thanksgiving. What we don’t eat will be repurposed into leftovers.

But there’s one part of the turkey that virtually no family will have on their table: the tail.

Despite our country’s obsession with fattening, dissecting, and searing turkeys, we almost inevitably pass up the fat-infused rear portion. According to Michael Carolan, professor of sociology and associate dean for research at the College for Liberal Arts at Colorado State University, that may have something to do with how Americans have traditionally perceived turkeys. Consumption was rare prior to World War II. When the birds were readily available, there was no demand for the tail because it had never been offered in the first place.

"Tails did and do not fit into what has become our culinary fascination with white meat," Carolan tells Mental Floss. "But also from a marketing [and] processor standpoint, if the consumer was just going to throw the tail away, or will not miss it if it was omitted, [suppliers] saw an opportunity to make additional money."

Indeed, the fact that Americans didn't have a taste for tail didn't prevent the poultry industry from moving on. Tails were being routed to Pacific Island consumers in the 1950s. Rich in protein and fat—a turkey tail is really a gland that produces oil used for grooming—suppliers were able to make use of the unwanted portion. And once consumers were exposed to it, they couldn't get enough.

“By 2007,” according to Carolan, “the average Samoan was consuming more than 44 pounds of turkey tails every year.” Perhaps not coincidentally, Samoans also have alarmingly high obesity rates of 75 percent. In an effort to stave off contributing factors, importing tails to the Islands was banned from 2007 until 2013, when it was argued that doing so violated World Trade Organization rules.

With tradition going hand-in-hand with commerce, poultry suppliers don’t really have a reason to try and change domestic consumer appetites for the tails. In preparing his research into the missing treat, Carolan says he had to search high and low before finally finding a source of tails at a Whole Foods that was about to discard them. "[You] can't expect the food to be accepted if people can't even find the piece!"

Unless the meat industry mounts a major campaign to shift American tastes, Thanksgiving will once again be filled with turkeys missing one of their juicier body parts.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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Food
Here's the Butterball Hotline's Most Frequently Asked Turkey Question
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If you’re preparing to conquer a whole turkey for the first time this Thanksgiving, you may have some questions. Like, is bigger really better? How long should the turkey rest? And is dunking the bird in a deep-fryer a bad idea? But if data from the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line is any indication, the first and most important question you have concerns defrosting. As Fox News reports, how to properly thaw a turkey is the hotline's most frequently asked question—and has been for some time.

Dial the Butterball experts in the days leading up to Thanksgiving and they’ll likely tell you that there are two ways to handle a frozen turkey. The first is to unwrap it, place it on a tray, breast-side up, and leave it to sit in the refrigerator for a few days. The rule of thumb is to allow one day for every four pounds of turkey you’re thawing. So if you have an eight-pound bird, begin the defrosting process two days before Thanksgiving; if it’s 16 pounds, you need to let it thaw for four days.

Don’t panic if you’re reading this Wednesday night. There’s a quicker method for home cooks who prefer to wait until the last minute to start thinking about Thanksgiving dinner. Empty and clean the sink in your kitchen and fill it with cold water. With the plastic wrapping still on, submerge the turkey in the bath, breast-side down, and leave it alone. After 30 minutes, change out the water and flip the turkey so that it’s breast-side up. Repeat the process until the meat has fully thawed, which should take half an hour per pound. (So if you’re willing to stay up the night before, you can have a frozen turkey oven-ready by Thanksgiving morning.)

Have more burning questions about your dinner’s starring dish? You can call or text Butterball for guidance between now and December 24 (for those Christmas Eve questions). For additional turkey-cooking expertise, check out our list of tips from real chefs.

[h/t Fox News]

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