What's American Food? A GLOBAL View

“We wish to consume American food. You understand, you are United states, so it will be great if we're able to try American meals with you.” – A supper demand from our Iranian CouchSurfing visitors a few weeks back in Berlin.

Dan and I viewed one another, deer in headlights. American foods? What's that?

The very first thing that found mind was Thanksgiving supper, among my favorite foods in every the world. Just as much as I needed to function as good web host, cooking a complete Thanksgiving dinner – turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie – in a few hours has been beyond us.

Following a few fake begins (hamburgers? tuna casserole? deli sandwich?), we settled on poultry fajitas and refried beans Tex-Mex style. That matters as American food, does it not?

Iranians are usually foodie tourists too. Babak photos our “American in Berlin” Feast

But once we cooked apart and our visitors queried us about additional typical American meals, we strained: Precisely what is American food in any case? A frequently asked query for the United states traveler, but one that we nevertheless don’t have a fulfilling response that rolls off the tongue.

American meals motivation in a German supermarket?

In my seek out the ultimate American foods, I visited a Berlin outpost of Lidl, a German supermarket chain, advertising “America 7 days.”

Curious. What does “American meals” mean in their mind?

Below are a few types of the American foods I came across:

Yogurt, American Design?

I understand I've been beyond your United Claims for the better area of the last 10 years, but are usually these oddball yogurt tastes actually the norm nowadays? Chocolate muffin? Actually?

Any Us citizens here that are caramel snacks or cranberry-chocolate yogurt enthusiasts?

Lady Liberty should be shedding a tear.

Microwave Hamburgers. Generally United states?

Microwaveable mini-hamburgers. Getting nearer to more authentic. In no way tried among those myself, however they do appear to be Light Castle sliders. I could imagine viewing them on shelves across The united states.

But I've also seen comparable items in nearly every big grocery shop in the world. Contact it American cultural hegemony.

Could it be really cheese?

Bright orange chemical substances pressed right into a cellophane sleeve and marketed as cheese? Obtaining warmer. But perform American shops really sell plastic-covered cheese slices expressly for hamburgers?

Jackpot! What states American food a lot more than marshmallows? But barbecue(!) types? There is a specificity itch becoming scratched during The united states week.

Take note: Spot the smart branding: McEnnedy. No, that isn't a misspell on my component. That is clearly a bizarre end-around on trademark. A typo embraced because of its uniqueness.

American Meals, Our Take

Ask across road corners and in villages around the world about United states food. Hamburgers maybe, popular dogs, too. Pizza, as well. Everyone's obtained that, though. McDonalds and KFC furthermore appear on top of the list. Sure, The united states downs its talk about of junk food, but present me a country on earth that doesn’t possess their very own version of hamburgers, scorching dogs, and fried poultry.

Though they might be spun with an area twist, those food items have fast become general.

Happy United states Hot Doggy in Berlin

I'd be remiss easily didn't tap the most common American meals icons Spam and Velveeta (whose generous usage of the expression “cheese” does not move unnoticed). Tuna casseroles (Hamburger Helper, anyone?). In fact, any kind of one pot food that combines different packets, cans plus some sort of meats is possibly characterized as United states cooking. (Or will be that co-ed cooking food?)

Surveys arrive all these normal suspects, but are usually they actually representative anymore?

Probably I'm lacking barbecue (or BBQ) – become it from Texas, Carolina, or Kansas Town? Throw in some apple company pie, but I usually wonder where that has been created.

The truth is that america is a nation of immigrants, and American foods – at least when i have known it -displays this melting pot. What meals Dan was raised with as a youngster – poppyseed stuffed pastries, kielbasa, pizza and rye loaf of bread – differs than what I was raised with – because our households are of various origins, from different metropolitan areas populated by descendants from various ethnic groups.

Whenever we think of the meals consumed in the U.S. nowadays, it's things such as pasta, mix fry, tacos, sushi, pizza, curries, deli sandwiches, burritos. The list is longer. I could proceed on.

Or possibly all we have to do is view the applicants for President of america trying to out-America one another while on the stump.

Macintosh and cheese and corn canines, anyone?

Assist us out here. The next time we host somebody who wish to eat American foods, what should we get ready? Once you hear American meals what comes to thoughts?

About Audrey Scott

56 applying for grants “What's American Food? A GLOBAL View”

Great read! You make the right points, especially concerning the melting pot.

I explored the main topics American food in university, when I wrote my thesis specialized in proving that United states Cuisine, in fact, is present.

I blame worldwide junk food growth for the picture of American food overseas. It’s not absolutely all burgers, hot canines and fries… (sigh) American Cuisine goes back several centuries, you can find great regional varieties (typically at least), looked after will be a mish-mash of several influences. But it is present and in its non-fast foods form can be extremely appealing. The best restaurants in america are the ones that serve quality Modern American food.

P.S. That very hot doggie pic reminds me of 1 at a hot puppy stand near the house in Chicago.

I as soon as had a man inform me the reason there is absolutely no English phrase equal to “bon appetit” or “buen provecho” is that people don’t have worthwhile food to look forwards to eating.

Individually, though, I discover this perceived weakness to become a power. We are comprised of immigrants, and the meals reflects that. It could not be United states in origin, nonetheless it is now an essential part of America. Right now if our presidential applicants could remember that…

You strike the nail on the top with this particular: “The truth is that america is a nation of immigrants, and United states food — at the very least when i have known it – displays this melting pot.”

American meals at its greatest is United states regional food-the BBQ and chicken-fried steak of Texas, meat-and-threes of Tennessee, poultry wings of Buffalo, natural chile burgers of NM and CO, New Orleans jambalaya, Maine- or Conn-design lobster rolls, NY bagels, etc-and the majority of the nutrients reflects (the) what immigrants settled for the reason that area and/or (b) what foods have lengthy grown in that area. It’s a shame that American foods all together is often considered with regards to our fast-meals chains, but again, this is the American foods that’s exported overseas.

When confronted with a issue like your CSer posed for you, the solution isn’t straightforward, but most likely involves the two 2 of you cooking food whatever foods you was raised eating on your side of The united states, along w/an description of why you was raised consuming that. It’s a subject I love exploring all over the place I move!

P.S. Predicated on my NJ upbringing, I would have offered a pork roll, egg, and cheese sandwich. Or perhaps a sub. Or simply PB&J. 😉

I have been racking my human brain thinking about the same thing! Not long ago i resided in Spain with a family group and they produced all their custom meals and I believed…if the tables would switch, what American meals would I create?

The united states is filled up with immigrants from almost everywhere and when you really consider it, when we possess our “Italian nights” or “Mexican taco nights” that’s not necessarily us.

When I believe of American meals I believe of the “Keep it to Beaver” type foods like…meatloaf, veggies and mashed potatoes, BBQ….soul meals etc. Funny how that functions huh?

There are some good dining places in NYC/Chicago/Las Vegas specialized in “brand-new American” cuisine. “Craft” involves brain – by Tom Collichio.

The truth is, although many of the restaurants have become expensive (and therefore not so obtainable), they treat American foods as food that's created from local elements and made properly. For example a straightforward heirloom tomato salad – nonetheless it would be worthwhile having that dish since it is so tasty. Or braised suckling pig, or perhaps a porterhouse steak with celery-root mash.

BBQ can be a subject that well, even yet in the South, you can argue over it all night based on where in the South you're from. For instance, would the marinade end up being dried out rub or wet sauce? And what sort of sauce? In Texas, it's mostly dried out. In Tennessee, it really is wet. In NC, it provides vinegar. In Tennessee in the event that you produced a vinegar structured sauce, you'd be booted out! 🙂

California cuisine however, is a separate pet of it’s very own. Unique, created from fresh ingredients. Also pizza there's wierd.

And let’s not get yourself started chili. In accordance with some Texans, in the event that you place beans in your chili, you're committing a capital criminal offense. Chili there is simply cubed beef prepared to perfection in a fiery sauce. But there are other areas where you can place beans in your chili. You may still find other areas where chili is manufactured out of other ingredients, not really beef.

Mac pc and CHeese and the Grilled CHeese are usually two foods I’ve discovered that you can’t discover anywhere else as if you can a hamburger. I believe thats true american meals

@Pola: WHEN I described on Twitter, I’m actually intrigued by the main topics your thesis on United states Cuisine. I understand that I nevertheless have too much to find out about traditional American foods. Once you mention contemporary United states cuisine, what types of dishes are you experiencing at heart?

@Naomi: I had an identical issue when I studied in France a long time ago. My American meals contribution had been chocolate chip cookies and stayed from the savory things.

Depart it to Beaver type meals – that’s a great way of thinking about it. Although so several cultures all over the world grill meats, BBQ (with sauce and like) is certainly very United states. Meatloaf and casseroles furthermore work. For me personally, Thanksgiving is nevertheless the best in American cuisine.

@Betsy: Oh, that wasn’t sort of that guy – I believe I would have got responded with some nasty comment. There's lots of great foods in English speaking nations! I’m with you on the diversity in cultures and cuisines…and furthermore hope our presidential applicants remember this reality.

@Laura: Your comment and reaction is so excellent – it made me wish to accomplish a food-themed road vacation of america. Made me realize just how many regional specialties I understand nothing about. Now, simply need to look for a sponsor for this…

@Sutapa: You’ve opened up my eyes around another design of restaurants and meals in the us. Had never heard about “new American” cuisine, nonetheless it does make feeling that they are concentrated on the new produce near by to be not merely American but additionally regional/local.

Oh guy. The fights which could ensue over “correct” BBQ & Chili- from Texas to NEW YORK. One of the best chili recipes requires carrot skins from the juicer used as “meats.” I’m sure I’d end up being chased out of Texas easily ever tried to bring in that there.

@Matt: Macintosh & cheese is really a definitely an excellent one – no Italian design pasta comes near. Had to believe for a little on grilled cheese, but you’re right -it’s another design of hot sandwiches. Therefore, desire to make some mac pc & cheese for all of us in Berlin once you visit?

@Katie: If the Lidl supermarket here had offered up peanut butter for The united states week I would have already been so happy. Which makes sense. For other forms of peanut butter…maybe American design means processed with an increase of sugar while non-United states will be more natural (Indonesian design)? Although, I’ve in no way seen “Indonesian design peanut butter.”

Chocolate chip cookies are usually uniquely United states.

Enjoy Tallinn! I resided 65 km south of right now there for 2 24 months as a Peace Corps volunteer, therefore have a particular attachment to that nation.

Love this blog post. I was simply in Finland, where I noticed “American design peanut butter” on a supermarket shelf – which produced me wonder, will there be another design of peanut butter? Today I’m in Estonia even though at the supermarket earlier nowadays, I saw a bundle of “United states cookies” – which ended up being great ole chocolate chip cookies.

Given that you talk about it, possibly the “new United states” label isn't right : just plain United states created from regional produce and cooked effectively would explain what I was discussing. I acquired the label from the buddy…who isn’t in the meals market and neither am I. 🙂
Then there's another motion where they consider American convenience food like macintosh and cheese and go on it to another degree alogether. Like Danny Meyer’s hamburger joints – Shake Shack.

Extremely timely posting for me personally because we simply had 2 college students from Germany as home guests last week plus they specifically requested United states food, too. We had taken them to a baseball video game where we'd loaded chili canines, and we required them to Ruby’s United states Diner where they LOVED the hamburgers, fries, and dual milkshakes. I prepared Tex-Mex one night that they in addition requested cole slaw. For lunch time I produced quesadillas and grilled cheese sandwiches. Snack foods were constantly Doritos, Oreos, brownies, or ice lotion (they couldn’t believe all of the ice cream tastes at the supermarket). Like the comment somebody made about there getting no expression in English equal to Bon Appetit because we in fact had that dialogue with the German learners one evening!

@Sutapa: I love the thought of taking comfort foods and using it to a fresh level, provided that it doesn’t become as well pretentious or out of achieve in the process. An excellent hamburger from freshly surface meat is definitely an almost gourmet dinner. Hadn’t heard about Shake Shack before – simply looked it up. Appears like an interesting idea.

@Sonja: Wow, you truly proceeded to go all out for the German students – think it’s great! There's something about “real” United states hamburgers which are hard to reproduce in other areas of the planet. So glad that they had a excellent experience and they'll likely never have the ability to appear at a hamburger in the home the same method 🙂

We have been on the point of have a USA desk at the International Foods Fair at college and you ought to have seen the set of foods that came up whenever we attempted to narrow down our “american menus” .

I buy into the others that The united states is SUCH a huge melting pot that there isn’t anything much that's truly United states, that didn’t result from somebody else’s borders if they immigrated to the U.S.

@Naomi: I’m curious – what did you choose for the American menu at the International Food Fair? I concur that the melting pot does imply that it’s hard to recognize something that is actually American, but I really do believe we’ve put our very own twist on some dishes to create them “American” in nature.

@Elisa: I’m definitely with Eileen on the Americanness of chocolate chip cookies. I frequently have baked chocolate chip cookies for foreign guests or hosts. Same with brownies. Pumpkin pie is pretty unique aswell.

Funny you need to mention this, because I simply read a post by Eileen on Bearshapedsphere (http://bearshapedsphere.com/2011/09/02/the-defining-national-dish-of-the-united-states/) on chocolate chip cookies because the closest to a national dish for the united states. At first it appears weird to truly have a dessert for a “national dish,” however the more I think about any of it, the more I agree. Other activities that would be near to the top of my “American” food list: apple pie (or really almost any pie – pecan too!), PB&J sandwiches (although it’s often difficult to find real PB abroad), pancakes with maple syrup, ham and sweet potatoes, maybe scrambled eggs and grits. However the ham & eggs tend to be more a Southern thing, I assume!

When in Italy, many individuals told us they liked American food. Whenever we asked what that has been, one answer was always given: RIBS!

This made me chuckle just a little. But as you rightly described there is absolutely no such thing as “Authentic American Food” as the US is really a melting pot possibly every culture that you can buy. I recently did a full page on events on Hilton Head Island. You've got a Cajun food festival, an Italian food festival and a Gullah food festival on that certain small island! Oh..gleam wingfest too, we don’t omit the authentic American, do we? 🙂

@Renee: Didn’t realize ribs were this type of popular food with Italians! I’m attempting to imagine them eating a large pile of ribs making use of their hands, faces covered with BBQ sauce. Last time we'd ribs was in Bali – among the owners of the restaurant was American. Really delicious stuff.

@Sagar: That is clearly a large amount of food events for just one small island 🙂 I had to check up gullah food since i have had never heard about it. Really interesting. Perhaps “American food” is taking the influences from the house country of the immigrant and adjusting it for what's available locally. I imagine cajun food to end up like that, too.

You're right about how exactly the locals improvise and make new dishes. Among that is South East Parts of asia. For example, Thai food is really a mixture of Indian and Chinese cuisine. I believe American food continues to be in its infancy. I'll evolve into something greater and better as time passes.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply