What is American Food?
American Food. When people talk about American Foods, they usually think of hotdogs, hamburgers, and pizza. However, hotdogs are just german sausage on bread, hamburgers are a German Hamburg Steak (also on bread), and the word pizza was first seen in Italy about 1,000 years ago… So can we really call these foods American??
Well, America is a country of immigrants, which means the people came from different places and countries all over the world… When they came, they brought their foods with them, so most American dishes look a lot like foods from Europe, South America, and Asia… These cultures all came together and shared with each other. Many Americans might say it is good to mix foods, flavors, ideas and cultures together in a new way. This sharing and adding-on to tradition is probably one reason that people say America is a creative country. So America, and American food, is all about changing and improving on traditions.
Here are some super special, super delicious, American foods that may not yet be popular in other countries.
Barbecue. Cooking meat and vegetables on an open fire is probably the oldest way to cook food in the world. America is probably one of the youngest cultures in the world… but that doesn’t stop American style barbecue from being very special and AMAZINGLY DELICIOUS. One big part of American BBQ is the sauce.. There are hundreds or even thousands of different BBQ sauces, and restaurants/families can make their own sauce with its own special flavor, so you can never try every single flavor. This sauces makes the meat sweet, salty, spicy, tangy (a flavor like sour, but not very sour), smoky, and savory. When you cook the sauce and meat together, some of this sauce becomes dry and makes the outside of the meat crispy and crunchy while the inside stay very soft and wet… SUPER TASTY!
In Louisiana, there is a mix of French, Spanish, African, and Carribean cultures. The food is one place we can clearly see these cultures coming together, and it is called Cajun food. Jambalaya is a lot like Spanish paella, so it’s rice with meats, spices, and vegetables cooked in. Traditionally it has sausage, and also maybe pork, chicken or seafood (like shrimp or crawfish). Onion, green bell pepper and celery are super important, but adding other vegetables (like okra, tomatoes, garlic, and carrots) is good too.
The Reuben sandwich uses foods from all over Europe. It has rye bread, corned beef, Sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing (also called thousand island dressing). It’s really, really… amazingly delicious.
Reubens are amazing because the sandwich’s flavors and textures are so well-balanced. The corned beef and Swiss cheese provide savory and salty flavors, but the thousand island is sweet, and the sauerkraut is just a little sour. For textures, the rye bread is dry and takes in all the juices of the corned beef and dressing. The bread and sauerkraut are a little crunchy.
Buffalo Chicken Wings
These spicy chicken wings were created in a city called Buffalo, New York. They are just baked or fried chicken wings, but they have a special hot sauce on them (so sometimes they are also called hot wings). Buffalo wings are a very popular dish to eat at bars and while watching sports games. Hotwings are spicy, so they come with celery or carrots and milk-based dressing (like ranch or bleu-cheese), which you can eat if your mouth gets too hot.
Clam chowder is a soup. There are different kinds of clam chowder from Maine to Florida, sometimes they are red (made with tomatoes) and sometimes they are white and creamy. Clam chowder always has clams, but ham, potatoes and other vegetables are often added too.
Biscuits and Gravy
In the Revolutionary War, when America fought Britain and became its own country, there was not a lot of food or money. This dish, biscuits and gravy, was a cheap and delicious choice. Today it is still a very popular American breakfast.
Sushi is from Japan of course, but this sushi roll uses crab meat, avocado, and cucumber. It was created in Los Angeles, California.
This soup from San Francisco, cioppino (cho-pea-no), is fish stew with European flavors. This is how Portuguese and Italian fishermen from the late 1800’s who lived in San Francisco would cook their seafood. Soon restaurants started selling Cioppino too. This seafood soup is cooked in tomato with wine, European spices and chopped fish (whatever fish/seafood the fisherman had, but it almost always has crab).