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    LADYIRISH317   73,903
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"American food"

Sunday, February 10, 2013

A little while ago a group of us were discussing ethnic food and someone said, “Sorry, I only eat American food.” That got me thinking – what exactly IS “American food?”

America is truly a nation of immigrants. Even Native Americans came here from Asia millennia ago when there was still a land bridge between Siberia and Alaska. So it would stand to reason that the various cultures moving here would bring their traditional foods, modified by the native ingredients and cooking techniques of their adopted home.

All-American apple pie didn’t exist here until Europeans brought both apples and pastry crust, since neither existed in this country before. Domestic cattle, pigs and sheep were brought on settlement ships, though there were wild varieties. Every culture that has chickens (also a transplant) does some variety of fried chicken. Chocolate came to North America from Latin America via Spain (a roundabout route if ever there was one).

Hamburgers and hot dogs had their origins in Germany. Cheese was unknown here until settlers from numerous countries brought the technique. Citrus, peaches and a wide variety of fruits moved here from other lands. Spaghetti and lasagna were from Italy, of course. Dishes from all over Europe, Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East have all been adopted into the American culinary family.

So to me it begs the question: Is there even such a thing as “American food?” To me it seems that just like new settlers here adopt this country and become Americans, their dishes also become “naturalized citizens,” so to speak. So really (and this is just my humble opinion), I think ALL of these dishes are as American as their makers!


Member Comments About This Blog Post:
BECKYSRN 2/12/2013 12:58PM

    Hear hear!!

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HENLADY11 2/12/2013 12:09PM

  No American original foods? What about popcorn and maple syrup? Both come from Native American tribes and I don't think they are found in other countries. Oh, and wild rice-another Native American food.
For the most part I agree with Siriradha-when most people say they only eat American they seem to mean they eat nothing spicy or interesting.

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MRSGOAT9699 2/12/2013 11:38AM

    Excellent point! Thanks for sharing!

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MRS_TOAD 2/12/2013 7:47AM

    In this day and age, I'm not sure there is any pure national foods. Everyone takes a little and then adds something of their own. Great blog.

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    One of the American Museum of Natural History's current exhibitions is "Our Global Kitchen: Food, Nature, Culture." I haven't been to see it yet, but a friend said it was very interesting, and I'm sure it is, since the broad topic is fascinating. I thought you might like to at least see what the museum's website shows.

Too bad there's no option here for a proper, working link!


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CAROLJEAN64 2/11/2013 11:46AM

    And spaghetti really came to Italy from China.... I agree. I think when try to label food we are just reinforcing an us vs. them mentality.

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MPARKER67 2/11/2013 11:32AM

    Pizza and saganaki were started in america, I think.

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LIS193 2/11/2013 11:27AM

    Great blog. When I hear "american food" I think fast food, packaged junk and anything with sweet corn in it. Growing up in Europe corn was food for pigs, not humans...

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SIRIRADHA1 2/11/2013 10:50AM

    I always figure that if they say they only eat "American" food it's just a shortcut to saying "not enough spice to make it interesting" and "nothing that I wouldn't eat before I was ten years old!" At our house, we celibrate food diversity!

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MORRIGHAN 2/11/2013 6:57AM


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THINRONNA 2/11/2013 3:36AM

    Great blog! Great points!

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GLAMNGLOWDIVA 2/11/2013 1:51AM

    Such great points. To those who only eat "American" food, boy are they missing out on some great foods.

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NASFKAB 2/10/2013 10:17PM


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2BEHEALTHYAGAIN 2/10/2013 10:13PM

    I never really thought about it before. Great points. emoticon emoticon

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CATLADY52 2/10/2013 9:28PM

    That's right! We frequently sit down to have an Indian dish with Chinese side dishes. And my family has beeen here for over a hundred years. emoticon

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1CRAZYDOG 2/10/2013 9:07PM

    emoticon emoticon

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WALLAHALLA 2/10/2013 8:43PM

    great point

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LAURELSPARK 2/10/2013 8:41PM

    Interesting.............I guess I never thought about it that way!

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CARRAND 2/10/2013 4:49PM

    This reminds me of a "cultural diversity luncheon" we had at work one day. Members of the group brought Cuban Flan, Polish Venison Stew, English Trifle, Jewish Latkes, Vietnamese Spring Rolls, etc.

My secretary brought potato chips. She said American was a culture, too.

America may have developed the bagged chips we all eat, although I think the French may have fried potatoes before we did.

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CHEFSOPHIE 2/10/2013 4:48PM

    I totally agree. I think there various foods that have been Americanized, but that is just the process melding cultures.

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MONETRUBY 2/10/2013 4:34PM

    Interesting! I know people often refer to America as a melting pot, but I prefer the term *tossed salad*. Lots of things get brought into our culture and adapted, but they still retain a lot of the original flavor.

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ALFBUNDY 2/10/2013 3:32PM

    I wonder if "DEL TACO" would be considered "AMERICAN FOOD"! emoticon

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LEKSIPATSY 2/10/2013 3:15PM

    Remember George Washington Carver, who invented hundreds of foods! It is Black History Month :)

I appreciate and love that different ethnicities come to America - I am an American 'mutt' with more than 6 heritages myself - so while I appreciate the general theme of your blog post, you can't argue that in the 200+ years that America has existed, no one has created a single new food! If you google food inventions, america, you come up with classics such as 'corn dog' 'ruben' and 'philly cheesteak', plus, you can never forget the Buffalo Wing!! America is the country of ingenuity and greatness and we have created many tasty treats.

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CATE195 2/10/2013 3:05PM

    Funny you should ask this, I have always been puzzled by my GPS when I search for a restaurant and "American" is one of the choices.What exactly do they mean? Is it McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken, etc... so why don't they just call if fast food places:

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