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Cuisine of the United States


Cuisine of the United States

Apple pie is one of a number of American cultural icons.

The cuisine of the United States reflects its history. The European colonization of the Americas yielded the introduction of a number of ingredients and cooking styles to the latter. The various styles continued expanding well into the 19th and 20th centuries, proportional to the influx of immigrants from many foreign nations; such influx developed a rich diversity in food preparation throughout the country.

Early Native Americans utilized a number of cooking methods in early American Cuisine that have been blended with early European cooking methods to form the basis of American Cuisine. When the colonists came to Virginia, Massachusetts, or any of the other English colonies on the eastern seaboard of North America, they farmed animals for clothing and meat in a similar fashion to what they had done in Europe. They had cuisine similar to their previous British cuisine. The American colonial diet varied depending on the settled region in which someone lived. Commonly hunted game included deer, bear, buffalo and wild turkey. A number of fats and oils made from animals served to cook much of the colonial foods. Prior to the Revolution, New Englanders consumed large quantities of rum and beer, as maritime trade provided them relatively easy access to the goods needed to produce these items: Rum was the distilled spirit of choice, as the main ingredient, molasses, was readily available from trade with the West Indies. In comparison to the northern colonies, the southern colonies were quite diverse in their agricultural diet and did not have a central region of culture.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, Americans developed many new foods. During the Progressive Era (1890s–1920s) food production and presentation became more industrialized. One characteristic of American cooking is the fusion of multiple ethnic or regional approaches into completely new cooking styles. A wave of celebrity chefs began with Julia Child and Graham Kerr in the 1970s, with many more following after the rise of cable channels such as Food Network.


  • History 1
    • Pre-colonial cuisine 1.1
      • Seafood 1.1.1
      • Cooking methods 1.1.2
    • Colonial period 1.2
      • Common ingredients 1.2.1
        • Livestock and game
        • Fats and oils
        • Alcoholic drinks
        • Southern variations
    • Post-colonial cuisine 1.3
    • Modern cuisine 1.4
      • New American 1.4.1
  • Regional cuisines 2
    • Northeast 2.1
      • New England 2.1.1
      • Mid-Atlantic 2.1.2
    • Pacific and Hawaiian cuisine 2.2
    • Midwest 2.3
    • The American South 2.4
    • Cuisine in the West 2.5
      • Northwest 2.5.1
      • Southwest and Southern California 2.5.2
    • Common dishes found on a regional level 2.6
  • Ethnic and immigrant influence 3
    • Early ethnic influences 3.1
    • Later ethnic and immigrant influence 3.2
  • Notable American chefs 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
    • Notes 6.1
    • Works cited 6.2
  • External links 7


Pre-colonial cuisine


Seafood in the United States originated with the Native Americans, who often ate cod, lemon sole, flounder, herring, halibut, sturgeon, smelt, drum on the East Coast, and olachen and salmon on the West Coast. Whale was hunted by Native Americans off the Northwest coast, especially by the Makah, and used for their meat and oil.[1] Seal and walrus were also eaten, in addition to eel from New York's Finger Lakes region. Catfish was also popular amongst native peoples, including the Modocs. Crustacean included shrimp, lobster, crayfish, and dungeness crabs in the Northwest and blue crabs in the East. Other shellfish include abalone and geoduck on the West Coast, while on the East Coast the surf clam, quahog, and the soft-shell clam. Oysters were eaten on both shores, as were mussels and periwinkles.[2]

Cooking methods

Blue crab was used on the eastern and southern coast of what is now the U.S. mainland.

Early Native Americans utilized a number of cooking methods in early American Cuisine that have been blended with early European cooking methods to form the basis of American Cuisine. Grilling meats was common. Spit roasting over a pit fire was common as well. Vegetables, especially root vegetables were often cooked directly in the ashes of the fire. As early Native Americans lacked pottery that could be used directly over a fire, they developed a technique which has caused many anthropologists to call them "Stone Boilers". They would heat rocks directly in a fire and then add the rocks to a pot filled with water until it came to a boil so that it would cook the meat or vegetables in the boiling water. In what is now the Southwestern United States, they also created adobe ovens called hornos to bake items such as cornmeal breads, and in other parts of America, made ovens of dug pits. These pits were also used to steam foods by adding heated rocks or embers and then seaweed or corn husks placed on top to steam fish and shellfish as well as vegetables; potatoes would be added while still in-skin and corn while in-husk, this would later be referred to as a clambake by the colonists.[3]

Colonial period

Map of the 13 American Colonies in 1775.

When the colonists came to Virginia, Massachusetts, or any of the other English colonies on the eastern seaboard of North America, their initial attempts at survival included planting crops familiar to them from back home in England. In the same way, they farmed animals for clothing and meat in a similar fashion. Through hardships and eventual establishment of trade with Britain, the West Indies and other regions, the colonists were able to establish themselves in the American colonies with a cuisine similar to their previous British cuisine. There were some exceptions to the diet, such as local vegetation and animals, but the colonists attempted to use these items in the same fashion as they had their equivalents or ignore them entirely if they could. The manner of cooking for the American colonists followed along the line of British cookery up until the Revolution. The British sentiment followed in the cookbooks brought to the New World as well.[4]

There was a general disdain for French cookery, even with the French Huguenots in South Carolina and French-Canadians. One of the cookbooks that proliferated in the colonies was The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy written by Hannah Glasse, wrote of disdain for the French style of cookery, referring to "the blind folly of this age that would rather be imposed on by a French booby, than give encouragement to a good English cook!" Of the French recipes she does add to the text she speaks out flagrantly against the dishes as she "… think[s] it an odd jumble of trash."[5] Reinforcing the anti-French sentiment was the French and Indian War from 1754–1764. This created a large anxiety against the French, which influenced the English to either deport many of the French, or as in the case of many Acadians from Nova Scotia, they forcibly relocated to Louisiana. The Acadian French did create a large French influence in the diet of those settled in Louisiana, but had little or no influence outside of Louisiana - except among the Acadian Francophones who settled eastern Maine at the same time they colonised New Brunswick.[6]

Common ingredients

The American colonial diet varied depending on the settled region in which someone lived. Local cuisine patterns had established by the mid-18th century. The New England colonies were extremely similar in their dietary habits to those that many of them had brought from England. A striking difference for the colonists in New England compared to other regions was seasonality.[7] While in the southern colonies, they could farm almost year round, in the northern colonies, the growing seasons were very restricted. In addition, colonists' close proximity to the ocean gave them a bounty of fresh fish to add to their diet, especially in the northern colonies. Wheat, however, the grain used to bake bread back in England was almost impossible to grow, and imports of wheat were far from cost productive.[8] Substitutes in cases such as this included cornmeal. The Johnnycake was a poor substitute to some for wheaten bread, but acceptance by both the northern and southern colonies seems evident.[9]

As many of the New Englanders were originally from England game hunting was often a pastime from back home that paid off when they immigrated to the New World. Much of the northern colonists depended upon the ability either of themselves to hunt, or for others from which they could purchase game. This was the preferred method for protein consumption over animal husbandry, as it required much more work to defend the kept animals against Native Americans or the French.

Livestock and game

Commonly hunted game included deer, bear, buffalo and wild turkey. The larger muscles of the animals were roasted and served with currant sauce, while the other smaller portions went into soups, stews, sausages, pies, and pasties.[10] In addition to game, colonists' protein intake was supplemented by mutton. The Spanish in Florida originally introduced sheep to the New World, but this development never quite reached the North, and there they were introduced by the Dutch and English. The keeping of sheep was a result of the English non-practice of animal husbandry.[11] The animals provided wool when young and mutton upon maturity after wool production was no longer desirable.[12] The forage-based diet for sheep that prevailed in the Colonies produced a characteristically strong, gamy flavor and a tougher consistency, which required aging and slow cooking to tenderize.[13]

Fats and oils

A number of fats and oils made from animals served to cook much of the colonial foods. Many homes had a sack made of deerskin filled with bear oil for cooking, while solidified bear fat resembled shortening. Rendered pork fat made the most popular cooking medium, especially from the cooking of bacon. Pork fat was used more often in the southern colonies than the northern colonies as the Spanish introduced pigs earlier to the South. The colonists enjoyed butter in cooking as well, but it was rare prior to the American Revolution, as cattle were not yet plentiful.[14]

Alcoholic drinks

Prior to the Revolution, New Englanders consumed large quantities of rum and beer, as maritime trade provided them relatively easy access to the goods needed to produce these items: Rum was the distilled spirit of choice, as the main ingredient, molasses, was readily available from trade with the West Indies. Further into the interior, however, one would often find colonists consuming whiskey, as they did not have similar access to sugar cane. They did have ready access to corn and rye, which they used to produce their whiskey.[15] However, until the Revolution, many considered whiskey to be a coarse alcohol unfit for human consumption, as many believed that it caused the poor to become raucous and unkempt drunkards.[16] In addition to these alcohol-based products produced in America, imports were seen on merchant shelves, including wine and brandy.[17]

Southern variations

In comparison to the northern colonies, the southern colonies were quite diverse in their agricultural diet and did not have a central region of culture. The uplands and the lowlands made up the two main parts of the southern colonies. The slaves and poor of the south often ate a similar diet, which consisted of many of the indigenous New World crops. Salted or smoked pork often supplement the vegetable diet. Rural poor often ate squirrel, possum, rabbit and other woodland animals. Those on the "rice coast" often ate ample amounts of rice, while the grain for the rest of the southern poor and slaves was cornmeal used in breads and porridges. Wheat was not an option for most of those that lived in the southern colonies.[18]

The diet of the uplands often included cabbage, string beans, white potatoes, while most avoided sweet potatoes and peanuts. Those who could grow or afford wheat often had biscuits as part of their breakfast, along with healthy portions of pork. Salted pork was a staple of any meal, as it was used in the preparations of vegetables for flavor, in addition to being eaten directly as a protein.[19]

The lowlands, which included much of the Acadian French regions of Louisiana and the surrounding area, included a varied diet heavily influenced by Africans and Caribbeans, rather than just the French. As such, rice played a large part of the diet as it played a large part of the diets of the Africans and Caribbean. In addition, unlike the uplands, the lowlands subsistence of protein came mostly from coastal seafood and game meats. Much of the diet involved the use of peppers, as it still does today.[20] Interestingly, although the English had an inherent disdain for French foodways, as well as many of the native foodstuff of the colonies, the French had no such disdain for the indigenous foodstuffs. In fact, they had a vast appreciation for the native ingredients and dishes.[21]

Post-colonial cuisine

During the 18th and 19th centuries, Americans developed many new foods. Some, such as Rocky Mountain oysters, stayed regional; some spread throughout the nation but with little international appeal, such as peanut butter (a core ingredient of the famous peanut butter and jelly sandwich); and some spread throughout the world, such as popcorn, Coca-Cola and its competitors, fried chicken, cornbread, unleavened muffins such as the poppyseed muffin, and brownies.

Modern cuisine

A restaurant dish consisting of smaller versions of three different hamburgers available in the restaurant, each with different toppings, accompanied with French fries, coleslaw, jalapeños, ketchup and sweet chili sauce.

During the Progressive Era (1890s–1920s) food production and presentation became more industrialized. Major railroads featured upscale cuisine in their dining cars.[22] Restaurant chains emerged with standardized decor and menus, most famously the Fred Harvey restaurants along the route of the Sante Fe Railroad in the Southwest.[23]

At the universities, nutritionists and home economists taught a new scientific approach to food. During World War I the Progressives' moral advice about food conservation was emphasized in large-scale state and federal programs designed to educate housewives. Large-scale foreign aid during and after the war brought American standards to Europe.[24]

Newspapers and magazines ran recipe columns, aided by research by corporate kitchens (for example, General Mills, Campbell's, Kraft Foods). One characteristic of American cooking is the fusion of multiple ethnic or regional approaches into completely new cooking styles. For example, spaghetti is Italian, while hot dogs are German; a popular meal, especially among young children, is spaghetti containing slices of hot dogs. The fact that most Americans don't really even see this as a fusion recipe shows just how common this trend is. Since the 1960s Asian cooking has played a particularly large role in American fusion cuisine.[25]

An American hot dog

Similarly, some dishes that are typically considered American have their origins in other countries. American cooks and chefs have substantially altered these dishes over the years, to the degree that the dishes now enjoyed around the world are considered to be American. Hot dogs and hamburgers are both based on traditional German dishes, but in their modern popular form they can be reasonably considered American dishes.[26]

Pizza is based on the traditional Italian dish, brought by Italian immigrants to the United States, but varies highly in style based on the region of development since its arrival (a "Chicago" style has focus on a thicker, more bread-like crust, whereas a "New York Slice" is known to have a much thinner crust, for example) and these types can be advertised throughout the country and are generally recognizable/well-known (with some restaurants going so far as to import New York City tap water from a thousand or more miles away to recreate the signature style in other regions).[27]

Many companies in the American food industry develop new products requiring minimal preparation, such as frozen entrees.[28] Many of these recipes have become very popular. For example, the General Mills Betty Crocker's Cookbook, first published in 1950 and currently in its 10th edition,[29] is commonly found in American homes.[30]

A wave of celebrity chefs began with Julia Child and Graham Kerr in the 1970s, with many more following after the rise of cable channels like Food Network. By the beginning of the 21st century regional variations in consumption of meat began to reduce, as more meat was consumed overall.[31] Trendy food items in the 2000s and 2010s (albeit with long traditions) include doughnuts, cupcakes, macaroons, and meatballs.[32]

New American

During the 1980s, upscale restaurants introduced a mixing of cuisines that contain Americanized styles of cooking with foreign elements commonly referred as New American cuisine.[33]

Regional cuisines

Generally speaking, in the present day 21st century, the modern cuisine of the United States is very much regional in nature. Excluding Alaska and Hawaii the terrain spans 3,000 miles West to East and more than a thousand North to South when only including the continental USA.


New England

New England clam chowder

New England is a Northeastern region of the United States, including the six states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont, with its cultural capital Boston, founded in 1630. The Native American cuisine became part of the cookery style that the early colonists brought with them. The style of New England cookery originated from its colonial roots, that is to say practical, frugal and willing to eat anything other than what they were used to from their British roots.[34] Much of the cuisine started with one-pot cookery, which resulted in such dishes as succotash, chowder, baked beans, and others.[35] Starches are fairly simple, and typically encompass just a handful of classics like potatoes and cornmeal, and a few native breads like Anadama bread, johnnycakes, bulkie rolls, Parker house rolls, popovers, and New England brown bread. This region is fairly conservative with its spices, but typical spices include nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice, especially in desserts, and for savory foods, thyme, black pepper, sea salt, and sage. Typical condiments include maple syrup, grown from the native sugar maple, molasses, and the famous cranberry sauce.

New England is noted for having a heavy emphasis on seafood, a legacy inherited from coastal tribes like the Wampanoag and Narragansett, who equally used the rich fishing banks offshore for sustenance. Favorite fish include cod, salmon, winter flounder, haddock, striped bass, bluefish, and tautog, which are prepared numerous ways, such as frying cod for fish fingers, grilling bluefish over hot coals for summertime, smoking salmon or serving a whole poached one chilled for feasts with a dill sauce, or, on cold winter nights, serving haddock baked in casserole dish with a creamy sauce and crumbled breadcrumbs as a top so it forms a crust.[36] Farther inland, brook trout, largemouth bass, and herring are sought after, especially in the rivers and icy finger lakes in upper New England.

Meat is present though not as prominent, and typically is either stewed in dishes like Yankee pot roast and New England boiled dinner or braised, as in a picnic ham; these dishes suit the weather better as summers are humid and hot but winters are raw and extremely cold, getting well below 0 °C in January. The roasting of whole turkeys began here as a centerpiece for large American banquets, and like all other East Coast tribes, the Native American tribes of New England prized wild turkeys as a source of sustenance and later Anglophone settlers were enamored of cooking them using methods they knew from Europe: often that meant trussing the bird and spinning it on a string or spit roasting. Today turkey meat is a key ingredient in soups, and also a favorite in several sandwiches like the Pilgrim. For lunch, hot roast beef is usually chopped finely into small pieces and put on a roll with salami and American or provolone cheese to make a steak bomb. Bacon is often maple cured, and it is often the drippings from this bacon that are an ingredient in corn chowder. Veal consumption was prevalent in the North Atlantic States prior to World War II.[31] A variety of linguiça is favored as a breakfast food, brought with Portuguese fisherman and Brazilian immigrants.[37] Dairy products figure strongly on the ingredient list, and Vermont in particular is famous for producing farmhouse style cheeses, especially a type of cheddar. The recipe goes all the way back to colonial times when English settlers brought the recipe with them from Southern England and found the rocky landscape eminently suitable to making the cheese. Today several artisanal cheeses are made in the area, including goat's milk cheeses.

Crustaceans and mollusks are also an essential ingredient in the regional cookery. Maine is noted for harvesting peekytoe crab and Jonah crab and making crab bisques, based on cream with 35% milkfat, and crabcakes out of them, and often they appear on the menu as far south as to be out of region in New York City, where they are sold to four star restaurants. Squid are heavily fished for and eaten as fried calamari, and often are an ingredient in Italian American cooking in this region. Whelks are often eaten in salad, and most famous of all is the lobster, which is indigenous to the coastal waters of the region and are a feature of many dishes, baked, boiled, roasted, and steamed, or simply eaten as a sandwich, chilled with mayonnaise and chopped celery in Maine and Massachusetts, or slathered with melted butter on Long Island and in Connecticut.

Shellfish of all sorts are part of the diet, and shellfish of the coastal regions include little neck clams, sea scallops, blue mussels, oysters, soft shell clams and razor shell clams. Much of this shellfish contributes to New England tradition, the clambake. The clambake as known today is a colonial interpretation of an American Indian tradition.[38] In summer, oysters and razor clams are dipped in batter and fried, and served in a basket with french fries. Oysters are otherwise eaten chilled on a bed of crushed ice on the half shell with mignonette sauce, and are often branded on where they were harvested. Large quahogs are stuffed with breadcrumbs and seasoning and baked in their shells, and smaller ones often find their way into clam chowder. Other preparations include clams casino, clams on the half shell served stuffed with herbs like oregano and streaky bacon.

The fruits of the region include the Vitis labrusca grapes used in grape juice made by companies such as Welch's, along with jelly, Kosher wine by companies like Mogen David and Manischewitz along with other wineries that make higher quality wines. Apples from New England include the traditional varieties Baldwin, Lady, Mother, Pomme Grise, Porter, Roxbury Russet, Wright, Sops of Wine, Hightop Sweet, Peck's Pleasant, Titus Pippin, Westfield-Seek-No-Further, and Duchess of Oldenburg. Beach plums a small native species with fruits the size of a pinball, are sought after in summer to make into a jam. Cranberries are another fruit indigenous to the region, often collected in autumn in huge flooded bogs. Thereafter they are juiced so they can be drunk fresh for breakfast, or dried and incorporated into salads.[39] Winter squashes like pumpkin and butternut squashes have been a staple for generations owing to their ability to keep for long periods over icy New England winters and being an excellent source of beta carotene; in summer, they are replaced with pattypan and zucchini, the latter brought to the region by immigrants from Southern Italy a century ago. Blueberries are a very common summertime treat owing to them being an important crop, and find their way into muffins, pies and pancakes. Typical favorite desserts are quite diverse, and encompass hasty pudding, blueberry pie, whoopie pies, Boston cream pie, pumpkin pie, Joe Frogger cookies, hand crafted ice cream, Hermit cookies, and most famous of all, the chocolate chip cookie, invented in Massachusetts in the 1930s.


The mid-Atlantic states comprise the states of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Northern Maryland. The oldest major settlement in this area of the country is found in the most populous city in the nation, New York City, founded in 1653 by the Dutch and today this city is a major cultural capital of the United States.[40] The influences on cuisine in this region are extremely eclectic owing to the fact that it has been and continues to be a gateway for international culture as well as a gateway for new immigrants.[41] Going back to colonial times, each new group has left their mark on homegrown cuisine and in turn the cities in this region disperse trends to the wider United States. In addition to importing and trading the finest specialty foods from all over the world, cities like New York and Philadelphia have had the past influence of Dutch,[42] Italian, German,[43] Irish,[44][45] British [46] and Jewish cuisines[47] and that continues to this day, and Baltimore has become the crossroads between North and South, a distinction it has held since the end of the Civil War.

New York City is internationally known for its extremely diverse and cosmopolitan dining scene and possesses the entire world spectrum of dining options within its city limits, rivaled only by Chicago for its pre-eminence in the US restaurant scene. Some of the most exclusive and prestigious restaurants and nightclubs in America are headquartered here[48] and compete fiercely for good reviews in the Food and Dining section of The New York Times, online guides like Yelp, and in Zagat's, the last of which is the premier American dining guide, published yearly and headquartered in New York City.[49] Many of the more complicated dishes with rich ingredients like Lobster Newberg, waldorf salad, vichyssoise, eggs benedict and the New York strip steak were born out of a need to entertain and impress the well to do in expensive bygone restaurants like Delmonico's and still standing establishments like the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel , and today that tradition remains alive as some of the most expensive and exclusive restaurants in the country are found in this region.

Since the first reference to an alcoholic mixed drink called a cocktail comes from New York State in 1803, it is thus not a surprise that there have been many cocktails invented in New York and the surrounding environs. Even today New York City bars are noted for being highly influential in making national trends. Long Island iced teas, Manhattans, Rob roys, Tom Collins, Aviations, and Greyhounds were all invented in New York bars, and the gin martini was popularized in New York in speakeasies during the 1920s, as evidenced by its appearance in the works of New Yorker and American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald. Like its neighbor Philadelphia, many rare and unusual liquors and liqueurs often find their way into a mixologist's cupboard or restaurant wine list. New York State is the third most productive area in the country for wine grapes, just behind the more famous California and Washington. It has AVA's near the Finger Lakes, the Catskills, and Long Island,[50] and in the Hudson Valley has the second most productive area in the country for growing apples, making it a center for hard cider production, just like New England.[51][52] Pennsylvania has been growing rye since Germans began to emigrate to the area at the end of the 17th century and required a grain they knew from home.[53] Therefore, overall it is not unusual to find New York grown Gewürtztraminer and Riesling, Pennsylvania rye whiskey, or marques of locally produced ciders like Original Sin on the same menu.

This painting of a diner, as of 2015, is 73 years old, but is by no means out of date. One of the most common types of eatery In the Mid-Atlantic is the local diner, and culturally such restaurants are an institution.

Since their formative years, New York City, Philadelphia, and Baltimore have welcomed immigrants of every kind to their shores, and all three have been an important gateway through which new citizens to the general United States arrive.[54] Traditionally natives have eaten cheek to jowl with newcomers for centuries as the newcomers would open new restaurants and small businesses and all the different groups would interact. Even in colonial days this region was a very diverse mosaic of peoples, as settlers from Switzerland, Wales, England, Ulster, Wallonia, Holland, Gelderland, the British Channel Islands, and Sweden sought their fortune in this region.[55][56] This is very evident in many signature dishes and local foods, all of which have evolved to become American dishes in their own right. The original Dutch settlers of New York brought recipes they knew and understood from home and their mark on local cuisine is still apparent today: in many quarters of New York their version of apple pie with a streusel top is still baked, while originating in the colony of New Amsterdam their predilection for waffles in time evolved into the American national recipe and forms part of a New York City brunch, and they also made coleslaw, originally a Dutch salad, but today accented with the later 18th century introduction of mayonnaise.[42][57][58] The internationally famous American doughnut began its life originally as a New York pastry that arrived in the 18th century as the Dutch olykoek.[59]

Crabcakes were once a kind of English croquette, but over time as spices have been added they and the Maryland crab feast became two of Baltimore's signature dishes; fishing for the blue crab is a favorite summer pastime in the waters off Maryland, New Jersey, Long Island, and Delaware where they may grace the table at summer picnics . Other mainstays of the region have been present since the early years of American history, like oysters from Cape May, the Chesapeake Bay, and Long Island, and lobster and tuna from the coastal waters found in New York and New Jersey, which are exported to the major cities as an expensive delicacy or a favorite locavore's quarry at the multitude of farmer's markets, very popular in this region.[60][61] Philadelphia pepper pot, a tripe stew was originally a British dish but today is a classic of home cooking in Pennsylvania alongside bookbinder soup, a type of turtle soup. In winter, New York City pushcarts sell roasted chestnuts, a delicacy dating back to English Christmas traditions,[62] and it was in New York and Pennsylvania that the earliest Christmas cookies were introduced: Germans introduced crunchy molasses based gingerbread and sugar cookies in Pennsylvania, and the Dutch introduced cinnamon based cookies, all of which have become part of the traditional Christmas meal.[63][64]Scrapple was originally a type of savory pudding that early Pennsylvania Germans made to preserve the offal of a pig slaughter.[65] The Philadelphia soft pretzel was originally brought at the beginning of the 18th century to Eastern Pennsylvania and later 19th century immigrants sold them to the masses from pushcarts to make them the city's best-known bread product, having evolved into its own unique recipe.[66]

After the 1820s, new groups began to arrive and the character of the region began to change. There had been some Irish from Ulster prior to 1820, however largely they had been Protestants with somewhat different food patterns and (often) a different language than the explosion of emigrants that came to Castle Garden and Locust Point in their masses starting in the 1840s. Taverns had existed prior to their emigration to America in the region, though the Irish brought their particular brand of pub culture and founded some of the first saloons and bars that served stout. Irish were the first immigrant group to arrive in this region in massive numbers immigrants also founded some of the earliest saloons and bars in this region, of which McSorley's is an example. Migrants from Southern Europe, namely Sicily, Campania, Lazio, and Calabria, appeared between 1880-1960 in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Eastern Maryland hoping to escape the extreme poverty and corruption endemic to Italy; typically they were employed in manual labor or factory work but it is because of them that dishes like spaghetti with meatballs, New York style pizza, calzones, and baked ziti exist, and Americans of today are very familiar with semolina based pasta noodles.

New York style hot dogs came about with German speaking emigrants from Austria and Germany, particularly with the frankfurter sausage and the smaller wiener sausage. Today the New York style hot dog with sauerkraut, mustard, and the optional cucumber pickle relish is such a part of the local fabric that it is one of the favorite comestibles of New York City. Hot dogs are a typical street food sold year round in all by the most inclement weather from thousands of pushcarts. As with all other stadiums in Major League Baseball they are an essential for New York Yankees and the New York Mets games though it is the local style of preparation that predominates without exception. Hot dogs are also the focus of a televised eating contest on the Fourth of July in Coney Island, at Nathan's Famous, one of the earliest hot dog stands opened in the United States in 1916.

When hotdogs first arrived in America in the late 19th century, they were considered German food. New York City and Ellis Island at the time would have been one of the main points of entry for this food into the country owing to its status as a processing center for new immigrants. Today, every year on Coney Island, New Yorkers celebrate the Fourth of July by attending or participating in the contest shown above. The current champion as of 2014, Joey Chestnut, is shown, fourth from the left.

A summertime treat, Italian ice, began its life as a lemon flavored penny lick brought to Philadelphia by Italians; its Hispanic counterpart, piragua, is a common and evolving shaved ice treat brought to New York City by Puerto Ricans in the 1930s. Unlike the original dish which included flavors like tamarind, mango, coconut, piragua is evolving to include flavors like grape, a fruit not grown in Puerto Rico. Taylor ham, a meat delicacy of New Jersey, first appeared around the time of the Civil War and today is often served for breakfast with eggs and cheese on a kaiser roll, the bread upon which this is served was brought to the area by Austrians in the second half of the nineteenth century and is a very common roll for sandwiches at lunchtime, usually tipped with poppyseeds. This breakfast meat is generally known as pork roll in southern New Jersey and Philadelphia, and Taylor ham in northern New Jersey.

Other dishes came about during the early 20th century and have much to do with delicatessen fare, set up largely by Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe who came to America incredibly poor. Most often they were completely unable to partake in the outdoor food markets that the general population utilized as most of the food for sale was not kosher. The influence of European Jewry before their destruction in the Holocaust on modern mid Atlantic cooking remains extremely strong and reinforced by their many descendants in the region. American-style pickles were brought by Polish Jews, now a common addition to hamburgers and sandwiches, and Hungarian Jews brought a recipe for almond horns that now is a common regional cookie, diverting from the original recipe in dipping the ends in dark chocolate. True New York-style cheesecakes have copious amounts of cream and eggs in them because animal rennet is not kosher and thus could not be sold to about half the deli's clientele. New York inherited its bagels and bialys from Jews, as well as Challah bread, the bread today most favored for making french toast in New York, New Jersey, and eastern Pennsylvania. Pastrami first entered the country via Romanian Jews, and is a feature of many sandwiches, often eaten on marble rye, a bread that was born in the mid Atlantic. Whitefish salad, lox, and matzoh ball soup are now standard fare made to order at local diners and delicatessens, but started their life as foods that made up a strict dietary code.

Like other groups before them, many of their dishes passed into the mainstream enough so that they became part of diner fare by the end of the 20th century, a type of restaurant that is now more numerous in this region than any other and formerly the subject matter of artist Edward Hopper. In the past this sort of establishment was the haven of the short order cook grilling or frying simple foods for the working man. Today typical service would include regional staples like beef on weck, manhattan clam chowder, the club sandwich, Buffalo wings, Philadelphia cheesesteak, the black and white cookie, shoofly pie, snapper soup, Smith Island cake, grape pie, milkshakes, and the egg cream, a vanilla or chocolate fountain drink with a frothy top and fizzy taste. As in Hopper's painting from 1942, many of these businesses are open 24 hours a day.

Pacific and Hawaiian cuisine

Hawaiian cuisine: Seared ahi with wasabi beurre blanc sauce

Hawaii is often considered to be one of the most culturally diverse U.S. states, as well as being the only state with an Asian majority population and being one of the few places where United States territory extends into the tropics. As a result, Hawaiian cuisine borrows elements of a variety of cuisines, particularly those of Asian and Pacific-rim cultures, as well as traditional native Hawaiian and a few additions from the American mainland. American influence of the last 150 years has brought cattle, goats, and sheep to the islands, introducing cheese, butter, and yogurt products, as well as crops like red cabbage. Just to name a few, major Asian and Polynesian influences on modern Hawaiian cuisine are from Japan, Korea, Vietnam, China (especially near the Pearl River delta), Samoa, and the Philippines. From Japan, the concept of serving raw fish as a meal with rice was introduced, as was soft tofu, setting the stage for the very popular dish called poke. From Korea, immigrants to Hawaii brought a love of spicy garlic marinades for meat and kimchi. From China, their version of char siu baau became modern manapua, a type of steamed pork bun with a spicy filling.[67] Filipinos brought vinegar, bagoong, and lumpia, and during the 20th century immigrants from American Samoa brought the open pit fire umu [68] and the Vietnamese introduced lemongrass and fish sauce. Each East Asian culture brought several different kinds of noodles, including udon, ramen, mei fun, and pho, and today these are common lunchtime meals.[69]

Much of this cuisine mixes and melts into traditions like the infamous lu'au, whose traditional elaborate fare was once the prerogative of kings and queens but today is the subject of parties for both tourists and also private parties for the ‘ohana (meaning family and close friends.) Traditionally, women and men ate separately under the Hawaiian kapu system, a system of religious beliefs that honored the Hawaiian gods similar to the Maori tapu system, though in this case had some very specific prohibitions towards females eating things like coconut, pork, turtle meat, and bananas as these were considered parts of the male gods. Punishment for violation could be very severe, as a woman might endanger a man's mana, or soul, by eating with him or otherwise by eating the forbidden food because doing so dishonored all the male gods. As the system broke down after 1810, introductions of foods from laborers on plantations began to be included at feasts and much cross pollination occurred, where Asian foodstuffs mixed with Polynesian foodstuffs like breadfruit, kukui nuts, and purple sweet potatoes.

Some notable Hawaiian fare includes seared ahi tuna, opakapaka (snapper) with passionfruit, Hawaiian island-raised lamb, beef and meat products, Hawaiian plate lunch, and Molokai shrimp. Seafood traditionally is caught fresh in Hawaiian waters, and particular delicacies are 'ula poni , papaikualoa, ‘opihi, and ‘opihi malihini , better known as Hawaiian spiny lobster, Kona crab, Hawaiian limpet, and abalone, the last brought over with Japanese immigrants.[70] Some cuisine also incorporates a broad variety of produce and locally grown agricultural products, including tomatoes, sweet Maui onions, taro, and macadamia nuts. Tropical fruits equally play an important role in the cuisine as a flavoring in cocktails and in desserts, including local cultivars of bananas, sweetsop, mangoes, lychee, coconuts, papayas, and lilikoi (passionfruit). Pineapples have been an island staple since the 19th century and figure into many marinades and drinks.


Midwestern cuisine today covers everything from barbecue to the Chicago-style hot dog, though many of its classics are very simple, hearty fare. Mostly this region was completely untouched by European and American settlers until after the American Civil War, and excepting Missouri and the heavily forested states near the Great Lakes was mainly populated by interwarring nomadic tribes like the Sioux, Osage, Arapaho, and Cheyenne. As with most other Native American tribes, these tribes consumed the Three Sisters of beans, maize, and squash, but also for thousands of years followed the herds of bison and hunted them first on foot and then, after the spread of mustangs from the Southwest due to the explorations of conquistadors, on horseback, typically using bow and arrow. There are buffalo jumps dating back nearly ten thousand years and several photographs and written accounts of trappers and homesteaders attesting to their dependence on the buffalo and to a lesser degree elk, and today this region after nearly wiping them out to nothingness has taken to raising them alongside cattle as an important source of sustenance, to be sold all over the land at premium prices.

This region today comprises the states near the Great Lakes and also the Great Plains; much of it is prairie with a very flat terrain where the blue sky meets a neverending horizon. Winters are bitterly cold, windy, and wet. Often that means very harsh blizzards especially near the Great Lakes where Arctic winds blow off of Canada and where the ice on rivers and lakes freezes reliably thick enough for ice hockey to be a favorite pastime in the region and for icefishing for pike and muskies to be ubiquitous in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan, where they often there after become part of the local tradition of the fish fry. Population density is extremely low away from the Great Lakes and very small towns dominated by enormous farms are the rule with larger cities being the exception. Detroit, Cleveland, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis and her twin sister city across the river St. Paul dominate the landscape in wealth and size, owing to their ties with manufacturing, finance, transportation, and meatpacking. Smaller places like Cheyenne, Omaha, Tulsa, and Kansas City make up local capitals, but the king of them all is Chicago, third largest city in the country.

The Upper Midwest includes the states of Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan. Non-native American settlement began here earlier than anywhere else in the region, and thus the food available here ranges from the sublime to the bizarre. As with all of the Midwest, the primary meats here are beef and poultry, since the Midwest has been raising turkeys, chickens, and geese for over a hundred and fifty years; chickens have been so common for so long that the Midwest has several native breeds that are prized for both backyard farming and for farmer's markets, such as the Buckeye and Wyandotte; one, Billina, appears as a character in the second book of the Oz series by L. Frank Baum. Favorite fruits of the region include a few native plants inherited from Native American tribes like the pawpaw and the American persimmons are also highly favored. As with the American South, pawpaws are the region's largest native fruit, about the size of a mango, and are often found growing wild in the region come September, whereafter they are made into preserves and cakes and command quite a price at farmer's markets in Chicago. The American persimmon is often smaller than it is Japanese cousin, about the size of a small plum, but in the Midwest and portions of the East it is the main ingredient in a steamed pudding called persimmon pudding, topped with crème anglaise. Other crops inherited from the Native Americans include wild rice, which grows on the banks of lakes and is a local favorite for fancy meals.

Typical fruits of the region are cold weather crops. Once it was believed that the region had winters that were far too harsh for apple growing, but then a breeder in Minnesota came forth with the Wealthy apple and thence came forth the third most productive region for apple growing in the region, with local varieties comprising Wolf River, Enterprise, Melrose, Paula Red, Rome Beauty, Honeycrisp, and the world famous Red Delicious. Cherries are important to Michigan and Wisconsin grows many cranberries, a legacy of early 19th century emigration of New England farmers. Crabapple jelly is a favorite condiment of the region.

The American South

When referring to the American South as a region, typically it should indicate Southern Maryland and the states that were once part of the Old Confederacy, with the dividing line between the East and West jackknifing about 100 miles west of Dallas, Texas, and mostly south of the old Mason-Dixon line. Cities found in this area include New Orleans, Miami, Atlanta, Washington DC, Memphis, Charleston, and Charlotte, with Houston, Texas being the largest. These states are much more closely tied to each other and have been part of US territory for much longer than states much farther west than East Texas, and in the case of food, the influences and cooking styles are strictly separated as the terrain begins to change to prairie and desert from bayou and hardwood forest.

This plant, maypop, has been a favorite of Southerners for 350 years; it gives its name to the Ocoee River in Tennessee, a legacy of the Cherokees, and in Southern Louisiana it is known as liane de grenade, indicating its consumption by Cajuns. It is a very close relative of the commercial passionfruit, similar in size, and is a very common plant growing in gardens all over the South as a source of fresh summertime fruit.

This section of the country has some of the oldest known foodways in the land, with some recipes almost 400 years old. Native American influences are still quite visible in the use of

  • Key Ingredients: America by Food -Educational companion to Smithsonian Institution's exhibit on American food ways.

External links

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  • Veit, Helen Zoe. Modern Food, Moral Food: Self-Control, Science, and the Rise of Modern American Eating in the Early Twentieth Century (2013)
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  • Fried, Stephen. Appetite for America: How Visionary Businessman Fred Harvey Built a Railroad Hospitality Empire That Civilized the Wild West (Bantam; 2010)
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  21. ^ Smith 2004:149, Vol. 2.
  22. ^ James D. Porterfield, Dining by Rail: The History and Recipes of America's Golden Age of Railroad Cuisine (1993)
  23. ^ Stephen Fried, Appetite for America: How Visionary Businessman Fred Harvey Built a Railroad Hospitality Empire That Civilized the Wild West (Bantam; 2010)
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See also

Regional chefs are emerging as localized celebrity chefs with growing broader appeal, such as Peter Merriman (Hawaii Regional Cuisine), Jerry Traunfeld, Alan Wong (Pacific Rim cuisine), Norman Van Aken (New World Cuisine – fusion Latin, Caribbean, Asian, African and American), and Mark Miller (American Southwest cuisine).

The first generation of television chefs such as Robert Carrier and Julia Child tended to concentrate on cooking based primarily on European, especially French and Italian, cuisines. Only during the 1970s and 1980s did television chefs such as James Beard and Jeff Smith shift the focus towards home-grown cooking styles, particularly those of the different ethnic groups within the nation. Notable American restaurant chefs include Thomas Keller, Charlie Trotter, Grant Achatz, Alfred Portale, Paul Prudhomme, Paul Bertolli, Frank Stitt, Alice Waters, Patrick O'Connell and celebrity chefs like Mario Batali, David Chang, Alton Brown, Emeril Lagasse, Cat Cora, Michael Symon, Bobby Flay, Ina Garten, Todd English, Anthony Bourdain, and Paula Deen.

American chefs have been influential both in the food industry and in popular culture. An important 19th Century American chef was Charles Ranhofer of Delmonico's Restaurant in New York City. American cooking has been exported around the world, both through the global expansion of restaurant chains such as T.G.I. Friday's and McDonald's and the efforts of individual restaurateurs such as Bob Payton, credited with bringing American-style pizza to the UK.[117]

Notable American chefs

Contributions from these ethnic foods have become as common as traditional "American" fares such as hot dogs, hamburgers, beef steak, which are derived from German cuisine, (chicken-fried steak, for example, is a variation on German schnitzel), cherry pie, Coca-Cola, milkshakes, fried chicken (Fried chicken is of Scottish and African influence) and so on. Nowadays, Americans also have a ubiquitous consumption of foods like pizza and pasta, tacos and burritos to "General Tso's chicken" and fortune cookies. Fascination with these and other ethnic foods may also vary with region.

Italian, Mexican and Chinese (Cantonese) cuisines have indeed joined the mainstream. These three cuisines have become so ingrained in the American culture that they are no longer foreign to the American palate. According to the study, more than nine out of 10 consumers are familiar with and have tried these foods, and about half report eating them frequently. The research also indicates that Italian, Mexican and Chinese (Cantonese) have become so adapted to such an extent that "authenticity" is no longer a concern to customers.[116]

Together with earlier arrivals to the United States (including the indigenous Native Americans, Hispanic and Latino Americans, particularly in the West, Southwest, and Texas; African Americans who came to the United States in the Atlantic slave trade; and early colonial migrants from Britain, France, Germany, Spain, and elsewhere), these new waves of immigrants had a profound impact on national or regional cuisine. Some of these more prominent groups include the following:

Mass migrations of immigrants to the United States came in several waves. Historians identify several waves of migration to the United States: one from 1815–1860, in which some five million English, Irish, Germanic, Scandinavian, and others from northwestern Europe came to the United States; one from 1865–1890, in which some 10 million immigrants, also mainly from northwestern Europe, settled, and a third from 1890–1914, in which 15 million immigrants, mainly from central, eastern, and southern Europe (many Austrian, Hungarian, Turkish, Lithuanian, Russian, Jewish, Greek, Italian, and Romanian) settled in the United States.[115]

Later ethnic and immigrant influence

Some of the ethnic influences could be found in the nation from after the American Civil War and into the History of United States continental expansion during most of the 19th century. Ethnic influences already in the nation at that time would include the following groups and their respective cuisines:

While the earliest cuisine of the United States was influenced by indigenous Native Americans, the cuisine of the thirteen colonies or the culture of the antebellum American South; the overall culture of the nation, its gastronomy and the growing culinary arts became ever more influenced by its changing ethnic mix and immigrant patterns from the 18th and 19th centuries unto the present. Some of the ethnic groups that continued to influence the cuisine were here in prior years; while others arrived more numerously during "The Great Transatlantic Migration" (of 1870—1914) or other mass migrations.

Adaptation of Mexican food tailored for the mainstream American market usually is very different from Mexican food typically served in Mexico.

Early ethnic influences

Puck's former colleague, Jeremiah Tower became synonymous with California Cuisine and the overall American culinary revolution. Meanwhile, the restaurant that inspired both Puck and Tower became a distinguished establishment, popularizing its so called "mantra" in its book by Paul Bertolli and owner Alice Waters, Chez Panisse Cooking, in 1988. Published well after the restaurants' founding in 1971, this new cookbook from the restaurant seemed to perfect the idea and philosophy that had developed over the years. The book embraced America's natural bounty, specifically that of California, while containing recipes that reflected Bertoli and Waters' appreciation of both northern Italian and French style foods.

Another major breakthrough, whose originators were once thought to be crazy, is the mixing of ethnic cuisines. It is not at all uncommon to find raw fish listed next to tortillas on the same menu. Ethnic crossovers also occur when distinct elements meet in a single recipe. This country is, after all, a huge melting pot. Why should its cooking not illustrate the American transformation of diversity into unity?[114]

A movement began during the 1980s among popular leading chefs to reclaim America's ethnic foods within its regional traditions, where these trends originated. One of the earliest was Paul Prudhomme, who in 1984 began the introduction of his influential cookbook, Paul Prodhomme's Louisiana Kitchen, by describing the over 200-year history of Creole and Cajun cooking; he aims to "preserve and expand the Louisiana tradition."[113] Prodhomme's success quickly inspired other chefs. Norman Van Aken embraced a Floridian type cuisine fused with many ethnic and globalized elements in his Feast of Sunlight cookbook in 1988. The movement finally gained fame around the world when California became swept up in the movement, then seemingly started to lead the trend itself, in, for example, the popular restaurant Chez Panisse in Berkeley. Examples of the Chez Panisse phenomenon, chefs who embraced a new globalized cuisine, were celebrity chefs like Jeremiah Tower and Wolfgang Puck, both former colleagues at the restaurant. Puck went on to describe his belief in contemporary, new style American cuisine in the introduction to The Wolfgang Puck Cookbook:

Restaurant industry sales are expected to reach a record high of $476 billion in 2005, an increase of 4.9 percent over 2004... Driven by consumer demand, the ethnic food market reached record sales in 2002, and has emerged as the fastest growing category in the food and beverage product sector, according to USBX Advisory Services. Minorities in the U.S. spend a combined $142 billion on food and by 2010, America's ethnic population is expected to grow by 40 percent.[112]
, National Restaurant AssociationThe demand for ethnic foods in the United States reflects the nation's changing diversity as well as its development over time. According to the
Fried fish and french fries in San Diego, California

Ethnic and immigrant influence

Common dishes found on a regional level

Fresh fish and shellfish in Southern California tends to be expensive in restaurants, but by no means out of reach of the masses. Every year since the end of WWII, the Pismo clam festival has taken place where the local population takes a large species of clam and bakes, stuffs, and roasts it to their heart's content as it is a regional delicacy.[106][107] Fishing for pacific species of octopus and the Humboldt squid are common, and both are a feature of East Asian and other L.A. fish markets.[108][109][110]Lingcod is a coveted regional fish that is often caught in the autumn off the coast of San Diego and in the Channel Islands and often served baked. California sheephead are often grilled and are much sought after by spear fishermen and the immigrant Chinese population, in which case it is basket steamed. Most revered of all in recent years is the California spiny lobster, a beast that can grow to be 20 kg, and is a delicacy that now rivals the fishery for Dungeness crab in its importance.[111]

The weather in Southern California is such that the temperature rarely drops below 12 °C in winter, thus, sun loving crops like pistachios, kiwifruit, avocadoes, strawberries, and tomatoes are staple crops of the region, the last often dried in the sun and a feature of salads and sandwiches. Olive oil is a staple cooking oil of the region and has been since the days of Junípero Serra; today the mission olive is a common tree growing in a Southern Californian's back garden; as a crop olives are increasingly a signature of the region along with Valencia oranges and Meyer lemons. Soybeans, bok choy, Japanese persimmon, thai basil, Napa cabbage, nori, mandarin oranges, water chestnuts, and mung beans are other crops brought to the region from East Asia and are common additions to salads as the emphasis on fresh produce in both Southern and Northern California is very strong. Other vegetables and herbs have a distinct Mediterranean flavor which would include oregano, basil, summer squash, eggplant, and broccoli, with all of the above extensively available at farmers' markets all around Southern California. Naturally, salads native to Southern California tend to be hearty affairs, like Cobb salad and Chinese chicken salad, and dressings like green goddess and ranch dressing a staple. California style pizza tends to have disparate ingredients with an emphasis on greens, such as any combination of chili oil, prawns, chicken, shiitake mushrooms, olives, bell pepper goat cheese, and feta cheese. Peanut noodles tend to include a sweet dressing with lo mein noodles and chopped peanuts.

Southern California is located more towards the coast and has had more contact with immigration from the West Pacific and Baja California, in addition to having the international city of Los Angeles as its capital. Here, the prime mode of transportation is by car. Drive through fast food was invented in this area, but so was the concept of the gourmet burger movement, giving birth to chains like In and Out Burger and Sonic Drive-In, with many variations of burgers including chili, multiple patties, avocado, special sauces, and angus or wagyu beef; common accompaniments include thick milkshakes in various flavors like mint, chocolate, peanut butter, vanilla, strawberry, and mango. Smoothies are a common breakfast item made with fresh fruit juice, yogurt, and crushed ice. Agua fresca, a drink originated by Mexican immigrants, is a common hot weather beverage sold in many supermarkets and at mom and pop stands, available in citrus, watermelon, and strawberry flavors; the California version usually served chilled without grain in it.

In Texas, the local barbecue is often entirely made up of beef brisket or large rib racks, where the meat is seasoned with a spice rub and cooked over coals of mesquite, and in other portions of the state they smoke their meat and peppery sausages over high heat using pecan, apple, and oak and served it with a side of pickled vegetables, a legacy of German and Czech settlers of the late 1800s. California is home to Santa Maria-style barbecue, where the spices involved generally are black pepper, paprika, and garlic salt, and grilled over the coals of coast live oak. Native American additions may include Navajo frybread and corn on the cob, often roasted on the grill in its husk. A typical accompaniment or appetizer of all these states is the tortilla chip, which sometimes includes cornmeal from cultivars of corn that are blue or red in addition to the standard yellow of sweetcorn, and is served with salsa of varying hotness. Tortilla chips also are an ingredient in the Tex Mex dish nachos, where these chips are loaded with any combination of ground beef, melted Monterey Jack,cheddar, or Colby cheese, guacamole, sour cream, and salsa, and Texas usually prefers a version of potato salad as a side dish. For alcohol, a key ingredient is tequila: this spirit has been made on both sides of the US-Mexican border for generations,[104] and in modern cuisine it is a must have in a bartender's arsenal as well as an addition to dishes for sauteeing.[105]

Unlike Mexico, tortillas of this region also may incorporate vegetable matter like spinach into the flatbread dough to make wraps, which were invented in Southern California. Food here tends to use pungent spices and condiments, typically chili verde sauce, various kinds of hot sauce, sriracha sauce, chili powder, cayenne pepper, white pepper, cumin, paprika, onion powder, thyme and black pepper. Nowhere is this fiery mix of spice more evident than in the dishes chili con carne, a meaty stew, and cowboy beans, both of which are a feature of regional cookoffs. Southern California has several additions like five spice powder , rosemary, curry powder, kimchi, and lemongrass, with many of these brought by recent immigration to the region and often a feature of Southern California's fusion cuisine, very popular in fine dining.

Cuisine in this region tends to have certain key ingredients: tomatoes, onions, black beans, pinto beans, rice, bell peppers, and cheese, in particular Monterey Jack, invented in Southern California in the 19th century and itself often further altered into pepperjack. where spicy jalapeño peppers are incorporated into the cheese to create a smoky taste. Chili peppers play an important role in the cuisine, with a few native to the region (Anaheim pepper, Hatch pepper), these still grown by Spanish speakers in New Mexico. In the 20th century a few more recent additions have arrived like the poblano pepper, rocoto pepper, ghost pepper, thai chili pepper and Korean pepper, the last three especially when discussing Southern California and its large population from East and South Asia.[102][103] Cornbread is consumed in this area, however the recipe differs from ones in the East in that the batter is cooked in a cast iron skillet. Outdoor cooking is popular and still utilizes an old method settlers brought from the East with them, in which a cast iron dutch oven is covered with the coals of the fire and stacked or hung from a tripod: this is very different from the earthenware pots of Mexico. Tortillas are still made the traditional way in this area and form an important component of the spicy breakfast burrito, which contains ham, eggs, and salsa or pico de gallo. They also comprise the regular burrito, which contains any combination of marinated meats, vegetables, and piquant chilis, the quesadilla, a much loved grilled dish where cheese and other ingredients are stuffed between two tortillas and served by the slice, and the steak fajita, where sliced skirt steak sizzles in a skillet with caramelized onions.

Introduction of agriculture was limited prior to the 20th century and the development of better irrigation techniques, but included the addition of peaches, a crop still celebrated by Native American tribes like the Havasupai,[98] and oranges; today in Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico the favored orange today is the Moro blood orange, which often finds its way into the local cuisine, like cakes and marmalade.[99][100] Pine nuts are a particular regional specialty and feature often in fine dining; indeed in Nevada the Native American tribes that live there are by treaty given rights to exclusive harvest.[101]

Historically, Spanish settlers that came to the region found it completely unsuitable to the mining operations that much older settlements in Mexico had to offer as the technology of the age was not yet advanced enough to get at the silver that would later be found in the region. They had no knowledge of the gold to be discovered in California, something nobody would find until 1848. Instead, in order to make the pueblos prosper, they adapted the old rancho system of places like Andalusia in Spain and brought the earliest beefstock, among these were breeds that would go feral and become the Texas longhorn, and Churro sheep, still used as breeding stock because they are easy to keep and well adapted to the extremely arid and hot climate, where temperatures easily exceed 38 °C.[93] Later cowboys learned from their management practices, many of which still stand today, like the practical management of stock on horseback using the Western saddle.[94] Likewise, settlers learned the cooking methods of those who came before and local tribes as well: for example, portions of Arizona and New Mexico still use the aforementioned beehive shaped clay contraption called an horno, an outdoor wood fired oven both Native American tribes like the Navajo and Spaniards used for roasting meat, maize, and baking bread.[95] Other meats that see frequent use in this region are elk meat, a favorite in crown roasts and burgers, and nearer the Mexican border rattlesnake, often skinned and stewed.[96][97]

The states of the Four Corners (Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah) plus Nevada, Southern California and West Texas make up a large chunk of the United States and there is a distinct Hispanic accent to the cookery here, with each having a cultural capital in Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Santa Fe, Las Vegas, Denver, and Los Angeles. This region was part of the Spanish Empire for more than two centuries before California's statehood in the 1830s, and today is the home of a large population of immigrants from Mexico and Central America; Spanish is a commonly spoken secondary language here and the state of New Mexico has its own distinct dialect that is protected as the state's second official language . With the exception of Southern California, the signature meat is beef, since this is one of the two regions in which cowboys lived and modern cattle ranchers still eke out their living today.[91][92] High quality beefstock is a feature that has been present in the region for more than 200 years and the many cuts of beef are unique to the United States. These cuts of meat are different from the related Mexican cuisine over the border in that certain kind of offal, like lengua (tongue) cabeza (head) and tripas (tripe) are considered less desirable and are thus less emphasized. Typical cuts would include the ribs, brisket, sirloin, flank steak, skirt steak, and t bone.

Southwest and Southern California

Crabs are a delicacy, and included in this are Alaskan king crab, red crab, yellow crab, and the world famous Dungeness crab. Californian and Oregonian sportsmen pursue the last three extensively using hoop nets, and prepare them in a multitude of ways. Alaska king crab, able to get up to 10 kg, is often served steamed for a whole table with lemon butter sauce or put in chunks of salad with avocado, and native crabs are the base of dishes like the California roll, cioppino, a tomato based fisherman's stew, and Crab Louie, another kind of salad native to San Francisco. Favorite grains are mainly wheat, and the region is famous for sourdough bread. Cheeses of the region include Humboldt Fog, Cougar Gold and Teleme.

Like its counterpart on the opposite coast to the East, there is a grand variety of shellfish in this region. Geoducks are a native species of giant clam that have incredibly long necks, and they are eaten by the bucket full as well as shipped to Asia for millions of dollars as they are believed to be an aphrodisiac. Gaper clams are a favorite food, often grilled or steamed in a sauce, as is the native California abalone, which although protected as a food source is a traditional foodway predating settlement by whites and today features heavily in the cooking of fine restaurants as well as in home cooking, in mirin-flavored soups (the influence of Japanese cooking is strong in the region) noodle dishes and on the barbecue. Olympia oysters are served on the half shell as well as the Kumamoto oyster, introduced by Japanese immigrants and a staple at dinner as an appetizer. California mussels are a delicacy of the region, and have been a feature of the cooking for generations.

This region is also heavily dominated by some notable wineries producing a high quality product, with Sonoma found within this region as well as the newer vinicultural juggernauts of Washington State, like the Yakima Valley. The first plantings of vineyards in the United States began many miles to the South on the Pacific coast in what is now San Diego, because the Franciscan friars that settled Alta California required wines they could use for their table and for the Eucharist, and the variety they planted, the mission grape, is still available on a limited basis. Today, French, Spanish, and Italian varietals are sold by the hogshead, and much of the area directly north of San Francisco is under vine, in particular Pinot noir, Garnacha, and Ruffina and several Tuscan varietals.

The Pacific Northwest as a region generally includes Alaska and the state of Washington near the Canadian border and terminates near Sacramento, California, Here, the terrain is mostly temperate rainforest on the Coast mixed with pine forest as one approaches the Canadian border inland. One of the core favorite foodstuffs is Pacific salmon, native to many of the larger rivers of the area and often smoked or grilled on cedar planks. In Alaska, wild game like ptarmigan and moose meat feature extensively since much of the state is wilderness. Fresh fish like steelhead trout, Pacific cod, Pacific halibut, and pollock are fished for extensively and feature on the menu of many restaurants, as do a plethora of fresh berries and vegetables, like Cameo apples from Washington state, the headquarters of the U.S. apple industry, cherries from Oregon, blackberries, and marionberries, a feature of many pies. Hazelnuts are grown extensively in this region and are a feature of baking, such as in chocolate hazelnut pie, an Oregon favorite,[90] and Almond Roca is a local candy.


Cooking in the American West gets its influence from Native American and Hispanophone cultures, and other European settlers into the part of the country. Common dishes vary depending on the area. For instance, the Northwestern region encompasses Oregon, Washington, and Northern California, and all rely on local seafood and a few classics of their own. In New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, West Texas, and Southern California, Mexican flavors and influences are extremely common, especially from the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Baja California, and Sonora.

Cuisine in the West

Certain portions of the South often have their own very distinct subtypes of cuisine owing to local history and landscape: though Cajun cuisine is more famous, Floridian cuisine, for example, has a very distinct way of cooking that includes ingredients her other Southern sisters do not use, especially points south of Tampa and Orlando. The Spanish Crown had control of the state until the early 19th century and used the southern tip as an outpost beginning in the 1500s, but Florida kept and still maintains ties with the Caribbean Sea, including the Bahamas Haiti, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Jamaica, and also holds the legacy of Anglophone settlers foodways and the foodways of the Seminole tribe of Native Americans. Thus, tomatoes, bell peppers, plantains, Caribbean lobsters, heart of palm, figs, especially taken from the Florida strangler fig, citrus, especially Hamlin oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, limes, and clementine oranges, habañero peppers, scotch bonnet peppers, mangoes, blue crab, conch, Florida stone crab, red drum, dorado, and marlins tend to be local favorite ingredients. Dairy is available in this region, but it is less emphasized due to the year round warmth. Traditional key lime pie, a dessert from the islands off the coast of Miami, is made with condensed milk to form the custard with the eye wateringly tart limes native to the Florida Keys in part because milk would spoil in an age before refrigeration. Pork in this region tends to be roasted in methods similar to those found in Puerto Rico and Cuba, owing to mass emigration from those countries in the 20th century, especially in the counties surrounding Miami.[88] Orange blossom honey is a specialty of the state, and is widely available in farmer's markets.[89]

African influences came with slaves from sesame seeds, eggplant, chili peppers, and many different kinds of melons were brought with them from West Africa along with the incredibly important introduction of rice to the Carolinas and later to Texas and Louisiana, whence it became a staple grain of the region and still remains a staple today, found in dishes like Hoppin John, rice and beans, dirty rice, purloo, and Charleston red rice. Other crops, like sugar cane, kidney beans, and certain spices would have been familiar to slaves through contact with British colonies in the Caribbean and also brought with them. Like the poorer indentured servants that came to the South, slaves often got the leftovers of what was slaughtered for the consumption of the master of the plantation and so many recipes had to be adapted for offal, like pig's ears and fatbacks[85] though other methods encouraged low and slow methods of cooking to tenderize the tougher cuts of meat, like braising, smoking, and pit roasting, the last of which was a method known to West Africans in the preparation of roasting goat. It is from this class of people that Southern cuisine gets barbecue and fried chicken, in the latter case with Scottish immigrants bringing the cooking method and West Africans bringing the spices . Other recipes certainly brought by Africans involve peanuts, as evidenced by the local nickname for the legume in Southern dialects of American English: goober, taken from the Kongo word for peanut, nguba.[86] The 300-year-old recipe for peanut soup is a classic of Southern cuisine that has never stopped being eaten, handed down to the descendants of Virginia slaves and adapted to be creamier and less spicy than the original African dish.[87] Boiled peanuts are a common food served at bars as a snack and have been eaten in the South for was long as there have been pots to boil them, and fried green tomatoes first appeared after the Civil War, thereafter becoming a common way for sharecroppers to use up the last of the tomatoes of summer before the weather cooled in October.

Since the end of the Civil War, New Orleans has had a thriving fine dining scene that predates the much younger 20th century metropoli of Atlanta and Miami. It was here that cocktails like the sazerac and hurricane were invented as well as the liqueur Southern Comfort. New Orleans has been the capital of Creole culture since before Louisiana was a state; this culture was and still is quite distinct from the rural culture of Cajuns and dovetails with what would have been eaten in antebellum Louisiana plantation culture long ago. Cooking to impress and show one's wealth was a staple of Creole culture, which often mixed Spanish, Italian, French, and African methods, producing rich dishes like oysters bienville, pompano en papillote, and even the muffaletta sandwich, but it tends to diverge from the original ideas brought to the region in ingredients: profiteroles, for example, use a near identical choux pastry to that which is found in modern Paris but often use vanilla or chocolate ice cream rather than custard as the filling, pralines nearly always use pecan and not almonds, and bananas foster came about when New Orleans was a key port for the import of bananas from the Caribbean Sea[83] Gumbos tend to be thickened using the gooey innards of okra, something an African cook would be familiar with, whereas Cajuns would be more likely to use the leaves of the sassafrass tree and neither of them ever used the andouille currently known in France, since French andouille uses tripe whereas Louisiana andouille is made from a Boston butt, usually inflected with pepper flakes, and smoked for hours over pecan wood. Other ingredients that are native to Louisiana and not found in the cuisine of modern France would include rice, which has been a staple of both Creole and Cajun cooking for generations, and sugarcane, which has been grown in Louisiana since the early 1800s.[84] Ground cayenne pepper is a key spice of the region, as is the meat of the American alligator, something settlers learned from the Choctaws and Houma.

In the parts of the South which face the Atlantic Ocean, French influences often were dictated by where French Huguenots settled, however it is Louisiana that got the lion's share of older French cooking methods from Poitou and Normandy via Nova Scotia, most of which are foodways that pre-date the codification of haute cuisine during the reign of Louis XIV and have more in common with rustic cuisines of the 17th and 18th century than anything ever found at the French court in Versailles or the bistros of 19th and 20th century Paris; this is especially true of Cajun cuisine. Louisiana is a state named for Louis XIV and to this day French is still a commonly spoken tongue in the areas south of New Orleans. The Cajuns and their dialect have occupied Southern Louisiana since the 1700s owing to Le Grande Dérangement, an event in which they were forcibly evicted by the English Crown from their lands in Canada and made to occupy more marginal lands on the bayou. Cajun French is more closely related to dialects spoken in Northern Maine, New Brunswick, and to a lesser degree Haiti than anything spoken in modern France, and likewise their terminology, methodology, and culture concerning food is much more closely related to the styles of these former French colonies even today. Unlike other areas of the South, Cajuns were and still are largely Catholics and thus much of what they eat is seasonal; for example pork is an important component of the Cajun boucherie (a large community event where the hog is butchered, prepared with a fiery spice mix, and eaten snout to tail) but it is never consumed in the five weeks of Lent, when such would be forbidden. Cajun cuisine tends to focus on what is locally available, historically because Cajuns were often poorer independent farmers and not plantation owners but today it is because such is deeply imbedded in local culture. Boudin is a type of sausage found only in this area of the country, and it is often by far more spicy than anything found in France or Belgium. Chaudin is unique to the area, and the method of cooking is comparable to the Scottish dish haggis: the stuffing includes onions, rice, bell peppers, spices, and pork sewn up in the stomach of a pig, and served in slices piping hot. Crayfish are a staple of the Cajun grandmother's cookpot, as are blue crabs, shrimp, corn on the cob, and red potatoes, since these are the basic ingredients of the Louisiana crawfish boil.

Desserts in the South tend to be quite rich and very much a legacy of entertaining to impress guests, since a Southern housewife was (and to a degree still is) expected to show her hospitality by laying out as impressive a banquet as she is able to manage.[82] Desserts are vast and encompass Lane cake, sweet potato pie, peach cobbler, pecan pie, hummingbird cake, Jefferson Davis pie, peanut brittle, coconut cake, apple fritters, peanut cookies, Moravian spice cookies, chess pie, doberge cake, Lady Baltimore cake, bourbon balls, and caramel cake. American style sponge cakes tend to be the rule rather than the exception as is American style buttercream, a place where Southern baking intersects with the rest of the United States. Nuts like pecan and hickory tend to be revered as garnishes for these desserts, and make their way into local bakeries as fillings for chocolates.

Excepting Kentucky, where mutton is the meat of choice, or Southern Maryland, where the custom is to take the carcass of an entire bull and roast it over coals for many hours, pork is the irreplaceable mainstay of Southern style barbecue and features in other preparations like sausages and sandwiches. Among both African Americans and Caucasian Americans in the antebellum period, corn and pork were a staple of the diet.[31] For breakfast, it is a feature of country sausage, which in turn are an ingredient in the Southern breakfast dish of biscuits and gravy. Head cheese is a popular sliced meat of the region, taken from the pig's head, and pickled pig's feet have always been a cheap snack since they were introduced by Scotch-Irish settlers; today they are often served in bars.. Baby back ribs, hog maw, cracklins, and even whole pig roasts in specially constructed ovens are found in all parts of the South, as are its two best known condiments, barbecue sauce and hot sauce, with hundreds of local variations. In Virginia and the Appalachians, the mainstay for special occasions is the country ham, often served for Christmas and cured with salt or hickory, with the Virginia recipe often feeding the hogs peanuts for finishing and giving the ham a distinct taste,[80] and red pepper flakes in ham cured in Tennessee.[81] Accompanying many meals is the southern style fluffy biscuit, where the leavening agent is sodium bicarbonate and often includes buttermilk, and for breakfast they often accompany country ham, grits, and scrambled eggs.

This image displays a pig pickin', where an entire pig is slowly roasted in a special barbecue for up to eight hours. It is a staple of the South, especially the Carolinas. The food is ready when it is tender enough to fall off the bone.

European influence began soon after the settlement of Jamestown in 1607 and the earliest recipes emerging by the end of the 17th century. Specific influences from Europe were quite varied, and remain traditional and essential to the modern cookery overall. To the upper portion of the South, French Huguenots brought the concept of making rouxs to make sauces and soups, and later French settlers hunted for frogs in the swamps to make frog's legs. German speakers often settled in Appalachia on small farms or in the backcountry away from the coast, and invented an American breakfast delicacy that is now nationally beloved, apple butter, based on their recipe for apfelkraut, and later introduced red cabbage and rye. From the UK, an enormous amount of influence was bestowed upon the South, specifically foodways found in 17th and 18th century Ulster, the borderlands between England and Scotland, the Scottish Highlands, portions of Wales, the West Midlands and Black Country. Settlers bound for America fled the tumult of the Civil War and troubles in the plantation of Ireland and the Highland Clearances, and very often ships manifests show their belongings nearly always included their wives' cookpots or bakestones and seed stock for plants like peaches, plums, and apples to grow orchards, which they planted in their hundreds: today, the biggest fruit crop of the region is the yellow peach, and noted apple varieties include Carolina Red June, Arkansas Black, Carter Blue, Magnum Bonum, and the infamous Golden Delicious. Each group brought foods and ideas from their region which gave birth in time to American whiskey and Kentucky bourbon, derived from the recipes of Celtic peoples, tipsy cakes, derived from 18th century recipes for English trifle, and all of the above made the staple meat of the South pork, to this day the meat no Southerner can cook without.

, which were themselves invented in the South during the American Civil War. quick breads), and sticky bun (both are types of honey buns, pecan rolls and pecan pie, mince pies are very commonly included in desserts and pastries as varied as pecan and black walnut, hickory, and nuts like the spoonbread, and cornbread, baked hoecakes, grits Maize is to this day found in dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner in the form of [79], and the aforementioned fruits still are cultivated as food in a Southerner's back garden.maize and squash and several sorts of [78],sassafras[77],spicebush[76],maypop, pawpaw Native American tribes of the region such as the Cherokee or Choctaw often cultivated or gathered local plants like [75][74] and turtles are turned into stews and and chips, gutted, breaded, and fried to make a Southern variation on English caught with one' s bare hands, both very important parts of the diet in the South today. Catfish are often blue catfish and snapping turtle and catfish, specifically the turtles Native Americans also consumed [73][72]

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