What comes to mind when you think of California cuisine? Fresh avocados maybe? Fish tacos and beachy flavors? You might be surprised at which of your favorite foods originated in the Golden State.

Sourdough Bread

Sourdough BreadThe style of sourdough bread has been around for centuries, but the California Gold Rush helped boost the bread’s importance in San Francisco after the city cultivated a unique starter that gave the bread it’s sour flavors and denseness that we know today. The microorganisms found in the starter thrive best in the city’s bay area climate.

It plays a part of California history, as the miners loved sourdough bread during the Gold Rush, bringing the starter with them as they moved across the state. Today, the mascot of the San Francisco 49ers even goes by the name Sourdough Sam.



Cioppino is a seafood stew, also created in San Francisco. Italian immigrants came to the city as fishermen, and at the end of the day, they would gather their catch and make a stew out of the chopped-up leftovers.

Today, the dish is usually a mixture of Dungeness crab, clams, shrimp, scallops, squid, mussels and various white fish stewed in a red wine broth. The shellfish are left in the shells to add flavor.

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Cobb Salad


The classic Cobb Salad served in many restaurants across the country originated in Hollywood in the 1930s at the Brown Derby restaurant. It’s said to be named after the owner of the restaurant.

The traditional salad is made from iceberg lettuce and topped with tomatoes, bacon, chicken, hard-boiled eggs, avocado, chives and Roquefort cheese, all chopped and tossed with a French dressing.

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See more: 7 Crops Grown in California

Ranch Dressing

ranch dressingThe most popular salad dressing in the U.S. originated in Santa Barbara in the 1950s. It’s made from buttermilk, sour cream, yogurt, onions, garlic and other seasonings.

California Roll

A fusion of California and Japanese cultures, the California sushi roll features crab meat, avocado, cucumber, rice and seaweed. It was initially created in Los Angeles in the 1960s to make sushi more accessible to those who were hesitant to eat it. It’s also an inside-out version of traditional Japanese sushi, where the seaweed is outside the rice.

See more: What’s Growing? California Produce Calendar

Fortune Cookies

Fortune CookiesThough the invention of the fortune cookie is still up for debate, a University of California at Berkeley graduate invented the machine that folds the cookies in Oakland in 1973, making mass production possible.

Rocky Road Ice Cream

The decadent ice cream flavor was invented in Oakland and was launched during the Great Depression. The name was inspired to make tough times a little bit sweeter. It was the first ice cream flavor to inspire others to experiment with textures and ingredients.