What Food Is California Famous For?

Malcolm Carlaw/CC-BY 2.0

California is famous for sourdough bread, cioppino, Cobb salad, ranch dressing and the California roll. In San Francisco, the Boudin Bakery has been making sourdough bread using the same yeast since the California Gold Rush of 1849.

Cioppino is a seafood stew that was brought to San Francisco by Italian immigrants during the 19th century. The stew is made from a collection of crab, clams, shrimp, scallops, squid, mussels and various white fish, all stewed in a broth made from red wine. Its origins date back to when fishermen, after a day’s work, would take all the leftover bits of their catch and throw them into a communal pot. The name cioppino may be derived from the Ligurian word that means “to chop,” but others attest that it sprung out of the cries of “chip in” that fisherman yelled to their fellows when they were creating this communal dish.

Cobb salad is widely believed to have been created in Hollywood during the 1930s at the Brown Derby restaurant. The salad got its name from the owner of the Brown Derby, Robert Howard Cobb. Ranch dressing was invented in Santa Barbara during the 1950s, and the California roll was created in Los Angeles during the 1960s as an experimental fusion using Japanese sushi-making techniques and California ingredients.