Four years later, Brown signed a bill that named not one California state nut but four: pistachios, almonds, walnuts and pecans.
Alex Vassar, a spokesman for the California State Library, pointed me to another (albeit odd) possibility for an officially recognized state meal. The 1931 law establishing the California valley quail as our state bird noted it was a game bird, indicating it was to be hunted for sport or food, he said. There are 44 such state symbols set by state law, he said in an email, and “several other presumably edible state symbols, like the state insect, but I wouldn’t recommend it” as food.
As you can see, there haven’t been a lot of tough gastronomic decisions made by our state leaders, though I can’t say I blame them. The options for a quintessentially Californian food are paralyzingly large.
California is the nation’s biggest agricultural exporter and the leading producer of not just almonds, pistachios, strawberries, apricots and garlic, but also pomegranates, persimmons, kale, nectarines, plums, celery, kiwi fruit, eggplant and honeydew. And that doesn’t cover even half of the full list.
Then there’s the wide and wonderful world of prepared food. So many fast-food chains began here, including not just In-N-Out, but also Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Carl’s Jr., Panda Express and Jack in the Box. And dozens of delicious specialty dishes were created or popularized here: Santa Maria tri tip, the Mission burrito, Los Angeles’s French dip sandwich, the San Francisco fish stew cioppino and San Diego-style rolled tacos.