There are a lot of states that are fun to visit for one reason or another: many have a variety of things to offer which appeal to different types of visitors. Florida, however, is one of those states that seems to have something for everyone. In the early 1500s, when the Spaniard, Ponce de Leon, first set foot somewhere in the vicinity of what is now historic St. Augustine, it was springtime, and, impressed by the variety and beauty of the blooming vegetation, he named the region Florida, which means “full of flowers”. Whether, like the famous explorer, you are drawn to Florida by its tropical beauty, or because of the abundant sunshine, gorgeous beaches, water sports and activities or for a magical vacation at the happiest place on earth, everyone loves going to Florida.
Walt Disney World in Orlando is the most visited attraction on the planet, but there is far more to Florida than the house built by its famous mouse. You can feel this as soon as you drive over the state line and stop for your free glass of liquid sunshine; Florida orange juice! When you think of Florida, more often than not, isn’t orange juice one of the first things that spring to mind? As a matter of fact, you may not plan your visit around certain types of food and drink like you might when vacationing in certain other states, but there are foods associated with Florida that are essential to experiencing the best of the Sunshine State.
Everyone plans to leave with bags of oranges, grapefruit, mangoes and other fruit that is so plentiful and delicious in Florida. The days typically go from really warm to hot, so there is a perfectly good excuse to enjoy the many different and tasty types of ice cream, frozen yogurt, Italian ices and snow cones. But don’t think that Florida is all about fruit and snacks: there is so much more.
Is there anything better than sitting on an open deck beside a sparkling beach and having someone place a steaming plate of fresh seafood in front of you? Maybe a little spot on your plate is taken up by a piece of roasted corn and a couple hush puppies, but the rest is piled high with shrimp, oysters, grouper, snapper, mackerel, stone crab or any of the other locally caught types of seafood. Don’t forget the clams! Clams are still harvested from the wild, but the Florida clam farming industry is rapidly growing. And, because clams require zero pollution levels, the growing number of clam farms are having a positive impact on the environment as well as the economy.
Because if its location, it is not surprising that Caribbean food is a popular choice in Florida. Whether dining in well-known chains or small, independent hideaways, locals and tourists, alike, can readily find the specially seasoned barbecued ribs (make sure you get the guava sauce!), chicken kabobs, coconut shrimp, jerk chicken and, of course, the key lime pie that Caribbean food is known for.
Getting hungry? All of this sounds (and is) delicious, but there was a movie out a few years ago that sent droves of people looking for a special sandwich that calls Florida home. Did you see the movie, Chef, starring Jon Favreau? After spending a couple hours with him traveling around in that food truck, perfecting the ultimate Cubano, was there anyone who could not practically taste it? Slow-roasted pork is combined with ham, Swiss cheese, mustard, and pickles and put on Cuban bread. Then it is pressed on a panini-type sandwich press which melds all the flavors and textures into a little sample of heaven. Order it with a mojito, the refreshing Cuban cocktail made with white rum, mint, lime juice, club soda and a little sugar and you will never want to leave Florida!