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American cuisine: Mmmm… what a flavor!

The 4th of July is one of the biggest holidays in the United States. This day is marked by parades, fireworks and delicious recipes. The celebration extends over many nations where Americans reside, including those where the very meaning of the American cuisine is still quite vague. So the following article will be more interesting for those who live outside the US wanting to know something new about the American cuisine.

American cuisine

American cuisine

On 4 July 1776 the Declaration of Independence of the United States was approved by the Congress, establishing a sovereign nation with 13 colonies on the road to freedom. So this day is celebrated with fireworks and entertainment, of course. And in a matter of food they say that on these days sales of hot dogs are more than $150 million dollars, the amount of chicken sold is 700 million kg and the amount of red meat is 190 million kg. But those who say American food is just fast food cannot be further from the truth. Like any other cultural event of the United States, food is the result of a varied and complex mix of different culinary traditions brought by immigrants from around the world. Traditional foods from Europe, Asia, Africa and the rest of America got mixed with the native cuisine, being rapidly assimilated into techniques and ingredients, and giving rise to new and delicious dishes that were very successfully exported all over the world.

Also, the vast expanse of the country results in a huge variety of regional cuisines, with their different characteristics, mainly distinguished by different ingredients. In the East of the country, for example, there are many dishes based on fish and shellfish (Maine lobster, Maryland blue crab…), while in the Midwest, the base of the food is beef (Omaha steaks, etc.).

Native American cuisine

Native American cuisine

Native American cuisine: Used since pre-colonial era, the country’s indigenous ingredients are one of the mainstays of the cuisine, corn, potatoes, sunflower and turkey and other foods consumed by the native population before the arrival of Europeans, were quickly adopted by them and exported to Europe, where they were a success. The traditional Spanish and Mexican cuisine mixed with the native one, lead to the now known as Tex-Mex, with examples such as tacos or chili con carne.

Southern cuisine: One of the most popular and advanced cuisines is the varied Southern cuisine with different accents of culinary traditions based on French, Irish, African, native and Spanish culinary traditions. This mixture gives rise to different cuisines with very varied and interesting flavors, depending on the region. Here are some examples:

African-American cuisine: One of the main foundations of the southern cuisine. The Food of the plantation workers with vegetables and the remains underrated meat (like trotters or pork bellies), was drifting in increasingly complex stews and barbecues, to which they added different spices depending on a geographical region. This meal was soon adopted by the white population, whose cooks were mostly black.

Cajun cuisine: This cuisine appreciated in the Southern Louisiana has its origins among the French speaking population settled in this area after the expulsion from the Acadia region of Canada. Simple preparation and use of local ingredients is based on three main pillars: rice, maize and vegetables (mainly onions, peppers and celery, present in virtually all of the Cajun cuisine). Dishes like etouffee, jambalaya, dirty rice or gumbo ragout etymologically show the fundamental presence of French gastronomy, with added Italian and Spanish accents.

Creole cuisine: Also from the Louisiana area, but more influenced by French cuisine of French-Canadians. This influence is understandable because it was used by the aristocracy of the area, closer to European delicacy. With capital in New Orleans, this food has its main unique feature in the preparation of seafood like crabs, shrimp or oysters, but their use in meat, especially cooked thoroughly marinated in barbecue is also highly valued. By 1980, this culinary culture was a new impetus with the rise of Creole Nouvelle, incorporating new techniques and ingredients of other southern cuisines, and is now based on the menus of top restaurants in New Orleans.

Chinese-American cuisine

Chinese-American cuisine

Chinese-American cuisine

The massive Chinese migration arrival in the 19th century also had an important influence in various parts of the country. Merging the local and Asian cuisine, the cuisine is based on the incorporation of American ingredients with Chinese techniques of preparation. Chinese cuisine has vegetables as its main ingredient, while the Chinese-American rather uses trimming and has a much faster making, primarily using oil and salt, which was rarely used in traditional Chinese food. Dishes now deemed part of Chinese culture as the chop-suey (which means “leftovers” in Cantonese), fried rice or popular fortune cookies are actually a result of this Chinese-American mix.

Fast food

Fast food

Fast food

The main export of the country is fast food dishes such as burgers, fried chicken, pizza or hot dogs. The origin of this type of cuisine dates from the early 20th century, when they opened restaurants that served food after a glass window with a slot so that the customer could pay and take his plate to go. This system, caused by lack of space in big industrial cities, gained rapid acceptance throughout the country. Franchise restaurants appeared with a unified brand that dominated the distribution networks, and allowed the big food companies spread through every city in the world. The rise of drive-through (restaurants where drivers gathered food in their own cars) in the 40′s is a proof of the overwhelming success of this cuisine.

Besides the big names known to all, fast food has other representatives. Throughout the country there are numerous restaurants called diners serving such dishes. These restaurants are widely accepted and are often popular on the highways to attract customers passing through. The most iconic diners are listed in the Roadfood restaurant guide, created by Stern brothers. This guide recommends the best places to eat and has many followers throughout the country.

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