Here’s What You Picked to Be California’s State Food

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“My California childhood included artichokes, steamed to perfection, the leaves dipped in melted butter, scraped clean and then discarded in a communal bowl. Years later while living in New York, at a neighborhood green grocer, I saw someone pick up an artichoke, turning it this way and that. I told him about trimming, steaming, dipping, scraping, cleaning the choke from the heart. ‘What’s wrong with this one?’ he asked, picking up an artichoke blistered with dull gray flecks. ‘That,’ I said, ‘is the best one; it’s been fog-kissed, so you know it was raised on the California coast.’” — Janet Galen, Menlo Park

“I had an ITS-IT ice cream sandwich every day in high school, and when I went away to college in Connecticut, I realized for the first time that not every part of the country had the same food, and this delicious treat in particular. It’s still one of my go-to desserts.” — Meghan Imrie, Portola Valley

Your invitation to identify quintessentially Californian food brought the following instantly to mind: a platter of cold, cracked Dungeness crab, my mom’s special sauce — mayonnaise mixed with ketchup — plus San Francisco sourdough bread and butter. No vegetables needed. Our family always eagerly awaited the start of crab season. We have eaten this since I can remember, still do — I’m now 69 years old — and plan to continue for the next 30 years or so.” — Nancy Baldwin, Elk Grove

“The unmistakable aroma of garlic is pure California. I cannot walk by the garlic fries at a Giants baseball game without buying a basket!” — Bob Weisend, Saratoga

“Nothing says California to me like apricots. Growing up in Salinas, we had two apricot trees in our backyard. When the fruit was ripe, we gorged ourselves on the juicy orbs and Mom made apricot ice cream, apricot jam and apricot pie. Dried California apricots, with their intense flavor, better than candy, kept us kids happy in that long gap between fresh apricot seasons.” — Paula Ball, Roseburg, Ore.

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