1. Access to Ports
New Jersey is a peninsula state with navigable waters on three sides, giving it incredible access to some of the busiest ports in the nation & the world. Imported foods & ingredients reaching NJ first are advantageous to stores, restaurants, and residents. These items are more likely to be fresh and unadulterated from suppliers before shipment to producers; similarly, the items do not have long distances to travel before consumption. This lends to great variety available within the region, and plenty of people to consume it. While there are definite state & international laws regulating products coming into port, let’s just say it’s good to know someone who works on the docks. You didn’t hear that here though, of course.
New Jersey is a very familial culture. Generations of families & communities have made food a centerpiece of family life, holidays, entertaining, and faith.
Let the rest of the country keep on believing the entire state looks like a cogeneration plant; we’ll keep our best-kept secrets to ourselves to enjoy, like the 550,000+ acres of farmland that ensure we live up to our name, “The Garden State.” Accessibility to local produce, dairy, and meats give our food that “Jersey Fresh” goodness.
New Jersey is the only state in the US which is entirely classified as “metropolitan,” because of its size and proximity between Philadelphia and New York. One of the most densely populated in the country, it is and has been a state largely affected by immigration. This makes it one of, if not the best, states in the US to find food that is 100% authentic to its origins and in tons of variety & quantity.
When you live in NJ, you get spoiled sometimes not realizing that outside of the NJ/metro NY region, the “pork store” is a scarce commodity or a completely foreign/unknown phenomenon. We LOVE our provisions in NJ like a fat kid loves cake. Stores specializing in ethnic imported foods are easy to come by as well.
6. Regional “native” foods
Try and order a Taylor Ham, egg and cheese out of state and see what happens. The Texas Weiner originated in Paterson; you won’t get a better “ripper” once you cross that state line. Jimmy Buff’s & Applegate Farms will complete out-of-state mail orders, proving that you can take a person out of Jersey, but you’ll never take the “Jersey” out of the person. There are endless items you just won’t get anywhere else in the world that make living here uniquely delicious.
7. The Shore
Not only can you feast on a fresh catch of the day from local markets or restaurants thanks to bordering oceans, bays, and rivers – the shore region holds its own title as a food-lover’s paradise. What would summer be without your favorite shore-stand pizza, ice cream, or fried oreos? Does the salt in the air really make food taste better? We think so.
8. The Water
Yes; there have actually been studies conducted investigating the effect of a location’s water chemical makeup and its effect on food. Whether water is hard or soft, its ph balance, and chemical levels present can change dough consistency, taste, and shelf-life. So the reason bagels taste better here is apparently legit.
If you want an honest & unabashed review on your food product, ask a New Jerseyan. Even most of us from the more humble neighborhoods have pretty diverse selections of choices in their immediate or surrounding locality. If your pizza tastes like crap, they will say so- typically loud enough for most of the restaurant to hear. Maybe they’ll finish it, maybe not. Then they will go a block over, tell the guy at the counter how bad your pizza tastes (again loud so we all hear) and exactly what seems to be the problem with it, ie: “the the cheese was like plastic & the friggin’ sauce tastes like Prego.” Basically, we have zero tolerance for mediocrity because we are spoiled rotten in quality & quantity from Cape May to Mahwah.
Moreover, the food industry in New Jersey is serious business. There are magazines, blogs, social media accounts, and an entire industry built around promoting, marketing, and critiquing it. There are huge food & beverage events happening seven days a week, all over the state, all year long.
In conclusion, all of these conditions can lend to some respectable palettes. You don’t have to take my word for it, but I know about 8 million people who probably have my back on it:)