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The United States exported fast food to the world, but within its borders is a rich, varied culinary heritage. Influenced by what nature provides and the immigrants who built the nation, American cuisine has something for everyone. Writer Bruce Kahn takes us on a tour of America’s regional specialties.
Text and photos by:Bruce Kahn
Country: USA

hen it comes to food, many think Americans eat only fries, pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers and other “junk food.” While these delicious, high-fat, high-calorie foods are abundant in the United States, there is so much more to the country’s cuisine. In fact, American cuisine is a blend of many cultures and is affected by the ethnicity of the people who immigrated to a particular region. No matter your tastes, you’ll always find something tasty in the United States!

Midwestern Cuisine
The Midwest is a center of the country’s grain production — wheat, corn and soybeans — and is sometimes referred to as “the breadbasket of America.” Midwestern states also are the center for beef and pork processing. The region is also called “America’s Dairyland” because of its production of milk, cheese and other dairy products. With cold winters, the Midwest has the perfect climate for growing fruits such as apples, blueberries, cranberries, cherries and peaches.

Midwestern foods include macaroni and cheese, chicken pot pie which is a pie crust filled with chunks of chicken, carrots, peas, onion, celery and potatoes in a cream white sauce and tater tot hot dish any type of casserole with small round hash brown potatoes as the top crust and of course delicious apple pie.

Northeast Cuisine also known as New England Cuisine
The northeastern region of the United States is characterized by seafood and dairy products. Atlantic Ocean fishing is an important industry, as is dairy farming in inland regions. Baking foods such as pies, beans and casseroles are more common than frying, which is the tradition in other regions. Maine is known for its delicious lobsters, Vermont for cheeses and pure maple syrup, and Massachusetts for its fish and famous “New England clam chowder” a thick, cream-based soup made with potatoes, onions and clams.

Southern Cuisine
The southern states are probably best known for fried chicken and pork spare ribs. Barbecue is very popular all over the South and West with sauces ranging from mild to steamy hot and spicy! Green beans are often flavored with bacon and salt pork, biscuits with honey (or butter) and ham with red-eye gravy made of pork fat drippings dissolved with coffee. Other Southern staples are beans (green, pinto or black eye peas), greens (collard, turnip or mustard) and hominy grits (kernels of corn, dried and ground). Don’t forget the hot cornbread, lathered in butter and served abundantly with almost any type of meal.

Southwestern Cuisine
In the states of Arizona and New Mexico, and Southern California and West Texas, the Mexican influence is pronounced. The hard shell taco, for example, is a creation of southwestern cuisine. It is usually stuffed with beef, lettuce, cheese, and sour cream, whereas the Mexican taco is a soft corn tortilla stuffed with meat, pork or seafood. Southwestern cuisine is fairly mild whereas Mexican cooking tends to be very hot and spicy, with most of the heat coming from chili peppers .

Pacific Northwest Cuisine
States such as Oregon, Washington and Alaska are especially known for their seafood, with Pacific salmon and Alaskan king crab being the best known. Meat that comes from a land animal that is hunted for food is called “game.” In the Pacific Northwest, some of the most common types of game include deer, rabbit and duck. In parts of the Northwest, there is a lot organic farming of vegetable and herbs, all grown without the use of chemicals. Northern California is the perfect environment for the wine industry, and some of the best American wines are produced there. Types of Pacific Northwest cuisine include salmon sautéed with apples and apple cider; pork chops with apricot, cherry-glazed chicken (chicken coated with a sweet, flavorful cherry sauce) and swordfish with peach salsa.

Fusion Cuisine
The term “fusion cuisine” was coined in the 1970s to represent a new form of dining. It is a blend of different types of ingredients and flavors found in different cultures. There is a large Asian influence in the United States, and chefs blend flavors from Japan, China, Indonesia and Korea. Tex-Mex is also very popular. Other types of fusion cuisine include: pizza made with BBQ chicken, bacon and tomato quesadillas, ground lamb and capers rolled with Greek-style rice and grape leaves, tofu, pumpkin curry, edamame, coconut shrimp and crab Rangoon just to name a few.

While it can sound rather exotic you might find pizza made with the ingredients of a taco, or sushi made with curry, basmati rice, cheese or salsa, I am more of a purest. Don’t “confuse” the traditional tomato sauce, pepperoni and cheese on my pizza with curry and grape leaves.

There are lots of simple, traditional, fusion and exotic foods to choose from no matter where you are in the country!

Bon appetit!

American food facts

1921 The first White Castle hamburger stand opens in Wichita, Kansas.

1926 Cobb salad, a chopped salad made with avocado, lettuce, celery, tomato, bacon, chicken, chives, hard-boiled egg, watercress and Roquefort cheese is created at the Brown Derby in Los Angeles by owner Bob Cobb.

1939 Nestle introduces the world’s first instant coffee – Nescafe.

1948 Dick and Mac McDonald open the first McDonald’s in San Bernardino, California.

1960 Single serve packages of ketchup are introduced.






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More than Mc Donald`s .

Most people think Americans only eat junk food like fries, hot dogs, pizza, and hamburgers, but American cuisine is varied; every region has its specialty.

Midwest: Produces dairy products and grows fruits like blueberries and cherries among others.

Midwestern foods: Macaroni and cheese, chicken pot pie, any type of casserole with hash brown potatoes and apple pie.

Northeast: Fishing is important as well as dairy products. Baking is more common than frying in this region.

Northeastern foods: lobsters, cheese and maple syrup, fish and clam chowder.

South: These states are best known for fried chicken and pork ribs. Southern foods: Beans, greens and hominy grits. Cornbread is also very popular and is served with almost any meal.

Southwest: The Mexican influence is present in this region. Tacos are very popular but in southwestern cuisine tastes tend to be fairly mild.

Pacific Northwest: Seafood is popular in this region, especially salmon and king crab; people also eat meat such as deer, rabbit and duck. The climate also makes the region perfect for wine production.

Pacific Northwest foods: salmon, pork chops, and swordfish with peach salsa among others.

Just remember, no matter where you are in the United States keep in mind that there are lots of foods to choose from. Enjoy!


 

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