What to Try in the U.S.: Traditional Food and Cuisine
I think when it comes to American food, almost everyone has images of fast food or other heavy and nourishing food in their mind.
However, in this article I want to talk not only about the famous burgers, but also about other popular dishes in different parts of the United States.
The most popular dishes in the U.S.
The States is a large and multicultural country. Of course, different parts of the state have their own variations of cooking recipes, but these are the ones that are popular in all corners:
- Barbecue (barbecue) . The word has already become a household name: it’s a cooking method, a proper name for the dish, and even a family leisure option. You can try barbecue in any state, though it’s thought that the best barbecue is made in Texas. Not only can you taste the dish in a restaurant, but you can also buy the meat at the market or in a store and roast it outdoors. My advice is to have a barbecue of your own. It’s always available: U.S. parks and beaches often have barbecue tables.
- Pancakes with maple syrup . Pancakes are thick pancakes, and maple syrup came to American cuisine from Canadian cuisine (read more about Canadian gastronomic culture here). In addition to syrup, pancakes are served with bananas or ice cream. Americans also prefer to eat them for breakfast. You can try pancakes at almost any diner in America and they are very popular. Or you can buy them at the store and just heat them up. Although, in my personal experience, I’ve found that it’s better when they are baked by professionals :).
- Marshmallow (marshmallow) – confectionery, which consists of sugar or corn syrup. It is added to salads, desserts, coffee, and cakes. The best known method of making marshmallow in America is roasting the marshmallows over a fire. Fire heats the product, making it larger and more viscous. You can buy mallow at any U.S. grocery store, such as Seven Eleven.
- Spray cheese . This is another American delicacy; it looks like an aluminum can with whipped cream inside, but it’s actually cheese. It’s only available in stores, like Walmart or Target. When I tried it, at first I didn’t even know what kind of mass it was. But Americans have shown that it is better to use the product as a filling for liver or as a sauce for potatoes.
- Burgers . Yes, of course, cheeseburgers and burgers are what people most often associate when the phrase “U.S. cuisine” is mentioned. And I have to say, the burgers here really are the most delicious burgers I have ever tasted. They have completely different toppings and completely different sizes. Sometimes there are three patties, or even five, or there’s crab meat inside. And sometimes the burgers are served without a bun at all, with lettuce leaves. Yes, Americans do hold competitions in the style of “who can eat the most burgers in an hour.”
Central States Cuisine
The cuisine of the central states was greatly influenced by Europe. France, England, Ireland-many immigrants from there went to the United States and settled in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama. These places have fertile soil, which allowed immigrants to establish many of their plantations. One of the plants that became firmly established in both the central regions and the rest of the country was corn. But meat is eaten in the central region too, you wouldn’t think :). So, what’s the best thing to try here:
- Corn (corn) – it’s used to make bread, butter, cereal, American hot dogs and more. Corn dogs, for example, are best eaten at festivals or various fairs.
- Rocky mountain oysters . These oysters are a traditional, though unusual for us, Colorado dish. In fact, “oysters” is just a name. In reality, they are fried bovine or sheep testicles. Of course, it’s difficult to make it yourself, so it’s better to go to a restaurant for a tasting.
- Fried chicken. Fried chicken is probably as associated with traditional American cuisine as burgers. But in fact, the custom of cooking poultry in this way came to the United States from Great Britain. Over time, fried chicken has become a national dish, and it is believed that the best meat is served in Kentucky. Incidentally, this is where the KFC company was founded.
- Runza . Like many others, this American dish is a meat dish. Locals describe it as “pockets with a beef”, but to me it’s like a pie or a sandwich. It’s very tasty, hearty, and homemade. Runza is available for breakfast at the Runza café of the same name in Nebraska or the adjoining parts of Kansas, Iowa, and Colorado. For locations of the chain’s restaurants, see the official website.
Cuisine of the Southwestern United States
Speaking of the cuisine of the southern and western United States, it is impossible not to note that it has absorbed the influence of Latin American countries. Even in Mexico, they say that all the best chefs went to America long ago. Spicy foods, meats and stewed vegetables are the main components of their cuisines.
- Taco . It is a national Mexican dish, a flatbread with a variety of fillings (meat, vegetables and fish). It is said that the best tacos are made in California, Texas, and Arizona. A popular place among Americans to try tacos and more is Taco Bell, a Mexican fast food joint.
- Chile con carne is another popular Mexican-American dish. It is shredded meat with hot chili peppers and tomatoes and onions. Often spices and garlic are added to the recipe. You have to be prepared that chili con carne is oh-so-spicy – verified from personal experience. So be careful!
- Enchiladas – something Americans love very much, and something I can’t live without. Enchiladas are rolls with a tortilla (corn tortilla) and all kinds of fillings, from chicken or beef to simple vegetables. Typically, enchiladas are served with guacamole (avocado sauce) and sour cream sauce. It is better to try it in restaurants. Look for the tastiest enchiladas in Florida and Texas.
- Seafood . It’s silly to talk about Southwestern cuisine without mentioning seafood. Fish, shrimp, clams, and crabs are an integral part of the region’s gastronomic culture. The gifts of the sea are available in huge quantities in stores as convenience foods, and you can always find a fish dish to your liking in cafes and restaurants. And, in fact, the famous rolls “California” is not just called that. Their recipe was invented here and has nothing to do with Japan.
Cuisine of the Northeastern United States
Here the influence of Mexican gastronomic traditions is practically not felt. Seafood, pastries and vegetables are the favorites:
I’d like to single out New York cuisine as a separate topic when talking about the culinary traditions of the northeastern states. It is steeped in Old World, Latin American, and African influences. New York is a city and a state where new culinary institutions are constantly popping up, aimed at completely different consumers. Here you can find vegan cafes, restaurants of different peoples of the world (Italian, Chinese, Russian cuisine, etc.), numerous markets and trendy gastropubs. Nevertheless, there are dishes that, in all this variety of different cuisines and places, are associated with New York City. Such dishes are loved and cooked all over the world, but New York is the best place to try them:
- A bagel New York is a bun with a filling in the shape of a bagel. The bagel is thought to have come to New York from Poland, but it has been greatly modified. The New York bagel is plump and quite large, most often using salmon and delicate cheese as the filling. Over time, the dish became so popular that many bagel diners opened in the city.
- Cheesecake New York is probably the most popular cake in the United States and, I think, in Europe. These cheesecakes are made with Philly cheese. You can buy it in a store, at the nearest café, or in a good restaurant.
- Donuts (beignet) – Here I’m not talking about the famous donuts, which are so much eaten by cops from American TV series, but about Louisiana donuts native to New Orleans. You can sample them to the sound of jazz at Cafe Du Monde.
America is home to a huge number of drinks, which subsequently became part of the country’s culture (and, incidentally, not just the USA). The most popular of these are:
- Coca-Cola . Undoubtedly, the drink invented in Atlanta is the most popular soda in the world. Originally positioned as a medicine, Coke has gained fame and has long been shipped around the world. The company also produces Sprite, Fanta, and Bonaqua, known far beyond the United States.
- Dr Pepper is another popular carbonated beverage that originated in the United States, and probably my favorite among sodas. The brand is constantly glimpsed in various TV shows, movies and music videos. You can buy it in any store with no problem.
- Beer . The American beer industry is made up of many breweries. Americans drink beer at any party, barbecue, or just while watching movies. Store-bought beer is cheap and usually light. The most popular brands are Bells, Budweiser, Breakside, and Samuel Adams.
- Bourbon is the national drink of Kentucky and the United States in general. Kentucky produces up to 90 percent of the drink. Here they call it the “spirit of America. The most famous brand, of course, is Jim Beam. Another good brand is Maker’s Mark.
- Coffee . Despite the fact that coffee is not the national American drink, it is extremely popular here. This is evidenced not only by the “americano” (Italian for “coffee Americano”), but also by the coffee houses that can be found at every turn. The most famous, in my opinion, is Starbucks.
What else to try
While I am in the U.S., many friends ask me to bring or send them various goodies that are not available in Russia or Europe. And, of course, while at home, I also miss the unusual flavors of store-bought chocolates and cookies.
So, for example, here you can find Oreo cookies with double chocolate or with mint; Kit-Kat with peanut butter, fruit filling. I also suggest trying the Milka chocolate with M&M’s; popcorn with flavors like caramel, cheese, bacon, candy or cheeseburger; and Wonka Words chocolate – the famous Wonka Company dragons (just like in the Willy Wonka movie).
Food and prepared meal prices depend first on the state, and second, on the location. In terms of state, prices are lower in America’s central states (Kansas, Utah, Wyoming, and Nebraska, Alabama). The most expensive are New York and California. In terms of location, the cheapest options are day markets and markets and supermarkets. The average check at the store is 30-50 USD. More expensive, of course, in restaurants and cafes.
American cuisine: history, features and the most popular dishes
Speaking about the national dishes of America, many people associate it with traditional fast food and barbecue. Not everyone knows that this country has many unusual recipes, which are known to this day all over the world.
American cuisine is full of great variety – you can find here vegetables, seafood, meat, and many other products, which together create dishes with sometimes unusual names, but at the same time they do not lose their flavor qualities, and often only more revealed each other.
An amazing fact! One American in five eats fast food at least once a day. That being said, Americans prefer to eat something sweet (like toast and jam) for breakfast.
The beginnings of American cuisine
If we think about what people influenced the birth of American cuisine, it is safe to say that the first influenced the Italians, who in the late 19th century began to immigrate to the United States en masse. Around the middle of the 20th century native Italian dishes like spaghetti and sauce, pizza and apple pie became commonplace. Along with Italian farmers, Americans achieved the popularity of eggplant.
French cuisine played a special role in the birth of American cuisine, which spread widely in the state of Louisiana. After all, it was the French who, at some point in time, populated the region to a greater extent and introduced notes of French cuisine to American cooking. The cuisine was based on available seafood as well as corn beans and hot peppers. The first seafood was crayfish and shrimp. Often all of these foods were cooked in a single clay pot. Dishes such as jambalaya, a rice dish reminiscent of the modern name of paella, and gumbo soup, a thick soup with spices similar in consistency to stew, can be found in local Louisiana restaurants even today.
The number of American meals was increasing by the day. The construction of the railroads had the effect of increasing the need for labor; there was a shortage of people. Consequently, many workers from China came to the country. So Chinese cuisine added to the richness of American cuisine with its national peculiarities.
The peculiarities of American cuisine
The dishes of American cuisine, as mentioned earlier, have different national roots. Some of them came from Europe, mainly from England, Germany and Italy and other countries.
Americans also have their own traditions. For example, ice is widely used in American cooking. Jug of ice is a common attribute of service in a restaurant. Iced tea is also in demand. Beer is usually served cold in a chilled mug.
Cheese is considered a typical product in American cuisine. American cheese is a mixture of melted cheeses (mozzarella, cheddar and so on), cottage cheese and butter with added spices.
One of the American people’s weaknesses is their love of peanut butter, which is a traditional American product made from chopped peanuts with vegetable oil and salt. This product is also in demand all over the world.
As a side dish in American cuisine rice is often cooked. It can be different: and long, and brown and wild. A small secret of this cuisine is that a lot of spices are used in food: garlic powder, different varieties of pepper, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, bay leaf, cumin, and more. Americans simply can’t do without it.
Characterize the American diet with the proliferation of a wide range of convenience foods in stores, fast-food restaurants.
The foundation of the American family’s daily diet is built on the principle of minimal cost and time.
Amazing fact! American cuisine is undeniably considered unhealthy. More than half of Americans do not know and do not want to learn even the basics of healthy eating. Approximately 52% of U.S. residents are of the opinion that it’s easier to figure out the tax system than it is with their own food.
The supermarket shelves are overflowing with an abundance of ready-made and convenience foods. In spite of the great variety of original dishes from all over the world, the American table looks a little monotonous, which causes negative emotions. In other countries, women are not as interested in the theoretical knowledge of cooking as they are in the United States. The American hostess, when arranging a meal for guests, does not present ready-made dishes on the table, but spends quite a bit of time in her kitchen before her acquaintances arrive.
Basing on already known to us basics of American cookery, we can conclude that it is the closest to our time, the most suitable to the pace and demands of modern man, in comparison with the cuisines of other countries. It is close to modern people first of all not in taste, but in psychology, because it is fast in cooking and not fastidious, even one can say primitive. No other country has influenced the eating habits of the world as much as the United States, they have left their unforgettable mark on the culinary history of the world. They proved that it is possible to make a masterpiece of culinary art with ordinary products, regardless of the time or money spent.
The main thing here is imagination and the ability to cook. And only then you will get not just a tasty dish, but a work of art.
America’s most famous dishes
Americans are mostly associated with fast food and the tradition of cooking meat outdoors. Because of this, there are many recipes for barbecue in the national cuisine of America. There you can also find such masterpieces that everyone needs to recreate at home. Now on the expanses of the Internet you can find a lot of recipes for American cuisine that stand out for their ease of preparation, while taking into account all the subtleties of the American style. Enjoying the meat you’ve just roasted with these recipes, you’ll be able to feel and understand why Americans are so fond of barbecue.
Many people forget about the extraordinary array of other national dishes made famous in America, though they shouldn’t. One of the most famous dishes everyone knows about is the traditional turkey, which in America is usually cooked for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Following the recipe, it is possible to implement the originality of American cuisine and please your family and friends with a new delicious dish.
The most interesting dishes of American cuisine:
- Salads are mixtures based on an abundance of vegetables and fruits, dressed usually with an original sauce;
- a variety of hot sandwiches, which can be filled with ham or breast, or just vegetables;
- pastries and sweets – the most popular in this category are pumpkin pie, banana split – a dessert made of ice cream and banana, cheesecake with different kinds of fillings, brownies – a chocolate cake with liquid chocolate inside, and, of course, popcorn;
- dishes with non-standard American products, for example: corn chowder is milk soup with corn, clam chowder is seafood soup, corn dog (sausage in corn flour dough, in other countries popularly called walk-dog), pecan pie is a pie with corn syrup custard and pecan nuts, French fries, and so on.
All of these dishes can be singled out for the fact that they stand out for their balance of products and ease of preparation.
Combination of not comparable products in American cooking
Let’s take the well-known fried chicken as an example. It is usually served as a main course with a side dish of vegetables or various cereals. In the United States, they decided not to dwell on a standard dish and added their own specialties.
They serve this product with waffles or pancakes, and use honey or maple syrup as a syrup. It turns out quite an unusual combination, but delicious, because the meat and sweet notes complement each other. In the southern United States, it is almost the most common and favorite breakfast dish.
Years later, many restaurants around the world began to apply such an afterthought to their dishes. But, as you know, everyone wants something to stand out, so both meat and chicken began to be served with more sweet and sour sauces, such as lingonberry and berry sauces.
As a second example, consider roasted cucumbers. Yes, exactly cucumbers. They are simply sliced and fried in a batter. If you think about why such a combination was invented, I think no one will be able to intelligibly answer you. Most likely it was made just for fun, but initially no one expected that it would turn out pretty good. No one would intentionally fry cucumbers, because this is a product that is eaten as it is or supplemented them with a dish. And only Americans, cook it deliberately, to satiate themselves, but they think it is delicious.
Another unusual combination is celery with peanut paste and raisins. In Russia, this combination of products is not practiced, but Americans have been using it for a long time, considering it a healthy treat for children. Not only is it a sweet dish that is easy to lure a child with, but most importantly, it contains vitamins, carbohydrates, and fats. Both kids and parents stay happy after this one.
America is an amazing country with many such intricacies in terms of cooking that not everyone knows. Making experiments on products, trying to make an unusual dish – this is a special feature of this country, which distinguishes it from others.
I hope you found this information interesting and fascinating. Thank you for reading it!