"...for purple mountains' majesty, above the fruited plains!" boasts a line in the song "America the Beautiful." Yes, this brings to mind images of the Georgia peach, Florida's oranges, Idaho potatoes and Ohio's...well, what kind of food do you think of when Ohio is brought to mind? With the most major cities of any state, one would think Ohio would have some good local grub. In fact, it does, though it takes a bit of rooting around to find what's really original. I'll help you follow your nose and stomach to some great local food in southeast Ohio.
If you've never been to Jackson, Ohio, you'll know you're there as soon as you see its water tower. Jackson is known for its apples, and rightly holds an apple festival
in late September every year. The week-long festival features parades, a visit from the governor, local entertainment and certainly plenty of homemade apple goodness! Foods range from your traditional apple pies and candy apples to the more eclectic apple fries and slushies. Can you say, "Fuji-licking good?" My personal favorite is the spicy, tangy apple butter that can be eaten straight from the jar or spread on morning toast. Jackson residents are so serious about their apples, they elect an apple festival queen and her court every year, adorned in traditional apple colors of red, green and yellow. Friends, there's nothing like the crisp, clean taste of a fresh apple.
Apples not your thing, but still want a mono-food festival? Fear not, food lovers. Simply head just a few miles south of Columbus to a town called Circleville, OH. Again, all signs point to another infamous water tower for a hint to
its tasty claim to fame. When October rolls around, so do the pumpkins in this town. I was actually lucky enough to visit the 2008 Circleville Pumpkin Show
and can tell you first-hand that homemade pumpkin ice cream is absolutely fantastic. Plus, if you're not a fan of noshing on pumpkins, you can certainly appreciate the enormity of the largest pumpkins on earth. Last year's whopper weighed in at 1,375.5 pounds!
Speaking of gourds, also on your way to Columbus along US 23 in Ashville, OH, Renick's Family Market is a great stop to sample some delicious food grown right here in Ohio. Here, sample roasted corn and homemade pies, jerky and jams. Also featured at Renick's as well as many other places in Ohio are Amish-made foods. Now here's a real treat: these very traditional families sure do know how to cook, and without the use of modern appliances. My eco-friendly brain sensors are lighting up. Kudos to them. Anyway, try the Amish cheese, baked goods and syrup. Your pancakes and Mother Nature will thank you.
There should be plenty of local food for Ohio's seasoned palates to feast upon this Independence Day. I hope that Governor Strickland will take part and a piece of what Ohio's local food supply has to offer. To skip out would simply be an insult to his gubernatorial appetite.