Today, the fast-food culture that characterizes much of Western society has shaped much of our eating habits, and for many people the very concept of “American food” conjures up visions of hamburgers, fries, hot dogs, pizza, brownies, coleslaws, baseball caps, burgers, steaks, fries, and ribs. The problem is that these popular images are misleading, and the very nature of a food culture can be deceptive. In this article, I will show why traditional USA food is still a far superior eating style, one that can easily be adopted by American diners worldwide.
America’s food heritage is a mishmash of many different cultures
Including Dutch, Irish, German, Swedish, Portuguese, Scottish, Caribbean, Italian, Greek, and many others. Thus, American cuisine is primarily Western European in origin, though it has also been greatly affected by native American Indians, African Americans, Asians, Latin Americans, and several others. But to label any single type of cuisine as “traditional” is a bit like labeling Mexican cuisine as “real Mexican food.” (Although there are probably as many types of “Mexican food” as there are countries within Mexico.)
Most of what we think of as “traditional” American food is, in fact, nothing like it at all. Let’s take, for example, one of our most beloved foods-breakfast. Most people probably do not even realize that this term technically describes a complete set of meals which usually begins with a bowl of cereal and ends with a large quantity of fruit, eggs, or cereal (sometimes called a meal) served either before bedtime or, in more modern times, at breakneck speed. Even so, this is not a “traditional” meal, just a fairly standard one.
We often adapt our recipes
Likewise, most people probably do not recognize that the main ingredient in their favorite dish, whatever it may be, is not actually a traditional Chinese food but an ingredient commonly used in Chinese cooking. Does this mean that the dishes which we call Chinese are not authentic Chinese dishes? No, of course not. But the point is that the term Chinese is really a misnomer, at least when used to describe a particular cuisine, since no two Chinese cultures are identical.
On the other hand, it would probably be more accurate to say that the United States is itself a type of cuisine, because it has its own distinctive style of cooking and preparing food. This certainly means that the ingredients and techniques of cooking used in the US are widely varied. Some people might consider some regional cuisines to be “Americanized” while others might view Southern cooking as “Americanized” (and a close friend of mine considers Belfast Irish to be Americanized). But this is a rather untitudinuous way of classifying foods, since no two American kitchens will ever be the same! Indeed, many of our most beloved cuisines have been influenced (at least in certain ways) by European cultures.
China and EU gastronomic food influence
Some of our most beloved foods have themselves been influenced by China, and even Europe, as well. For example, while the English learned (or were taught) the basic method for cooking rice by following a recipe handed down by a Chinese chef in return for a job in the Chinese kitchen, the Japanese developed their sushi culture by learning from the Japanese sushi masters how to make fresh rice balls and use them as ingredients in many wonderful Sushi dishes. A similar story can be told about our beloved hamburgers: while we don’t have the technology (and indeed, the inclination) to reproduce the deep fried hamburger which was a German invention, we have produced lots of delicious hamburgers which have an unmistakably German taste to them. A good way to get ideas for new food ideas is to visit your local Asian food store. Many traditional Asian ingredients are used in authentic American cuisine.