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Mulling the 2015 Taste of America Finalists

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This year's Taste of America showdown features a handful of regional eats that have made it to the big dance before, along with some scrappy comestibles that simply would not be denied.  

Instead of the super seafood slate yours truly envisioned, the 2015 finalists could be seen as an endorsement of porcine dining; roughly half of the remaining contenders are either pig-related products or could easily be adapted to include porky elements. (RIP, bacon buffet.)  

After three rounds of down-to-the-wire brawling, the “Elite Eight” include:

  • Indiana’s pork tenderloin: paired with English Brown Ale.
  • Maryland crab cakes: paired with a Belgian-style tripel.
  • Arizona’s pork chimichangas: paired with an India pale ale.
  • Illinois’ deep dish pizza: paired with a dunkelweizen.
  • Memphis-style barbecue from Tennessee: paired with a doppelbock.
  • Florida’s Key lime pie: paired with a hefeweizen.
  • Oregon’s blackberry pie: paired with a Geuze lambic.
  • Maine lobster roll: paired with a Kölsch.

Support for pork tenderloin really exploded in the past few weeks. The versatile protein lodged just more than 1,100 votes combined in the first two rounds, but roared past Illinois Italian beef during the latest challenge to lock down a top spot.  

Many of the foodstuffs have made it this far before, including: blackberry pie (2014 contender), deep dish pizza (2014), crab cakes (2014), lobster roll (2014) and chimichangas (2013). And it appears barbecue fans traded one powerhouse (Tennessee) for another (North Carolina, 2014 finalist), while sweets lovers ditched flyover country (Utah) in favor of the Sunshine State.  

And it ain’t over yet.  

Final balloting continues through Friday. The winner will be revealed on June 11, just before the 54th Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game officially gets underway.  

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