"Typical American Food" Top 5 Page for this destination United States of America Travelogue by grandmaR
United States of America Travel Guide: 285,773 reviews and 659,900 photos
Once upon a time, phrases like, "As American as apple pie," had some basis, and some of us are are still frying chicken on Sundays. But our food tradition has become increasingly blurred with all the Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Mexican, Italian, Greek and other foods which have been imported from other ethnic traditions. In my childhood in the 40s, who ate sushi?
Then in the middle 1900s, the prepackaged and convenience food phenomenon began to determine what we ate at home. Because of Campbells who started condensing soup in 1897, the majority of Americans think, "making soup" meant opening a can.
What did America eat before we had Tex-Mex? How did our moms or grandmothers cook?.And what can you eat in restaurants that will be 'authentic American cooking' before it was contaminated by mass communication and shortcuts?
Yesterday we went out to a restaurant way out in the country (the 7th district for which you almost need a passport), and they served me this delicious meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Usually, of course the gravy would be brown gravy poured all over everything, but in the 21st century I'm just as happy to have mine on the side.
I'm told that mashed potatoes are pretty ubiquitous all over the UK and Europe, and that meatloaf isn't really American either, but I think of them as American. Besides this is a good picture I think.
Most rural families kept a few chickens. In the 1928 Presidential campaign, Hoover's slogan included the words "A chicken in every pot.." implying that everyone will be prosperous under a Hoover presidency.
The quintessential picnic food is fried chicken. It also used to be the Sunday dinner in the south, to which the minister might be invited.
Almost every country has a version of fried chicken, or fricassee, from Vietnam's Gà Xaò to Italy's pollo fritto. It is thought that the Scottish people who settled the early South introduced the method here in the United States. They preferred to fry their chickens, rather than baking or boiling them as the English did.
It wasn't until the early 1900s that recipes for fried chicken began appearing in popular "northern" cookbooks. Fannie Farmer's 1896 cookbook only refers to "Fried Chicken" as a fricassee served with "Brown Sauce" or as oven-baked "Maryland Chicken.
My mom used to fry chicken, but I found it too much trouble, so I mostly oven fried it. But my husband likes regular fried chicken, so he does the chicken at our house, and he taught our oldest daughter - so she was frying chicken on top of the stove from age 12.
On the side one has biscuits, coleslaw, and corn on the cob plus mashed potatoes with gravy is probably the overall favorite, but potato salad is better for a picnic. (I have issues with potato salad too and never make it although I like eating it)
Different sections of the country have different local foods. In Maryland we have a lot of seafood, but the primary one is the crab. You can have crab cakes, or cream of crab soup, or a soft crab sandwich. Our main crab dish for summer is hard crabs steamed with McCormick's Old Bay seasoning. When we lived in Louisiana, we could get blue crabs really cheaply, but all we could buy for seasoning was Crab Boil. That wouldn't do. Bob had his mom send us some Old Bay, and we steamed the crabs in the turkey roaster.
McCormick Spices date back to 1889
We've got many kinds of seafood in addition to crabs. A lot of them are 'local' all over the world - like shrimp, oysters, and scallops. Fried catfish seems to be American (maybe because everyone else thinks they look so ugly that they wouldn't taste good but that doesn't seem to stop people eating oysters).
Lots of places have clams. In Maryland, they use nippers close to shore, for clamming. Soft-shell clams are also called "manoes." They're good steamed with drawn butter. You put the clams in sugar water first so they loose the sand that is invariably inside the shell. Then you steam them. You eat them by peeling off the neck skin, and dip them in drawn butter.
We also eat clams (usually the hard shell kind which are firmer inside as well) in clam chowder (three kinds - milk based called New England, tomato based called Manhatten and a clear soup made with clam broth, potato cubes and sometimes bacon in eastern North Carolina), fried clams which I eat with tartar sauce, and clam fritters.
I must also mention clam bakes
For a party of 8 plan on layering:
8 baking or sweet potatoes
8 ears of corn
8 chicken halves
8 live lobsters
4 to 8 dozen clams
And about 12 lbs. of mixed greens (collard greens, kale,etc.) or seaweed and cheesecloth. Use about 100 lbs. of completely dry rocks (size of grapefruit) to line pit and hold in heat as food cooks.
Dig a bow-shaped pit 3 ft. in diameter and 1.5 feet deep in the center. Using crisscross pattern, line with double thickness of heavy duty aluminum foil, then a layer of dry rocks about the size of grapefruit. Caution: Wet rocks can explode.
Build a bonfire on top of rocks in the pit. Traditionally this is done with driftwood. Let the fire burn 1.5 to 2 hours or until burned down and rocks are hot. NOTE: Do not use charcoal. Soak corn-on-the-cob (with silk removed) and mixed greens in cold water while fire is burning. Wash clams and set aside. Peel onions; remove ends. Oil potatoes. Refrigerate lobster on ice.
Once fire has burned down, work quickly to prevent rocks from losing heat. Tamp down embers. On top of rocks, layer pit in the following order: Half of the greens, strips of wet cheesecloth, potatoes, corn, onions, chicken halves, live lobsters and clams. Cover food with remaining wet cheesecloth, then greens. Cover pit with heavy duty aluminum foil. Crimp all sides to the edges of aluminum foil used to line the pit. Let food steam cook 40 to 60 minutes.
Remove foods immediately when done. Cooking times will vary depending on temperature of rocks. Peek at clams after 40 minutes. If they are open and lobsters are bright red, dinner is ready. Serve with melted butter and lemon.
You can serve clam chowder as an appetizer, and watermelon for dessert.
You can also get a bucket clam bake and cook it on the stove without all the hole digging and driftwood collecting.
A Philly cheesestead is thin sliced steak on a submarine roll. On July 4th, when the topic of Philly Cheesesteaks came up in the forums they said:
"Real cheesesteaks are cooked fresh, covered with American cheese, provolone or Cheese-Whiz and rest in a roll dripping with grease. Sound disgusting? You're obviously not from this town."
Cheesesteaks were invented in the '30s in South Philadelphia at Pat's Steaks, hence the addition of "Philly" to the name. They were originally topped with a pizza sauce, but that is now called a pizza steak.
In the U.S., most sandwiches are eaten with the fingers. Unlike in some areas of the world where sandwiches are eaten with a knife and fork.
We were flying on a pass (non-rev) from BWI to our daughter's place near Dallas. I had Huevos Rancheros (Mexican Eggs), Blueberry Muffin and fruit. My husband had pancakes and fruit.
Pancakes (as opposed to crepes) and blueberry muffins are American food. Blueberries are an American fruit and maples were used for sugar and syrup in colonial times. Log Cabin syrup debuted in 1888 and Aunt Jemima pancake mix in 1889.
On the way home, we again flew first class. Our lunch was shrimp salad, tossed salad, cheese, pita bread and Pepperidge Farm cookies. Pepperage farm is American (they started with bread in 1937), as are the Saltine type crackers. Saltines were 'invented' in 1876, as Premium soda crackers. The cheese pita bread is an import.
This was the rich chocolate cake that my mom had at Gertrudes in Baltimore at the Museum of Art. Some areas of the world (like Spain) do not have many cake-type desserts.
According to author, Linda Stradley, at the web site "What's Cooking America", cakes were considered a success symbol "by early American cooks on the east coast, with each region of the country having their own favorites. By the early 19th century,.. baking ingredients and modern leavening agents, such as baking soda and baking powder were invented. In 1835, pre-packaged "Royal Baking Powder" came into production combining bicarbonate of soda with cream of tartar."
Chocolate is a very popular type of cake - either Devils Food (which was originally red by virtue of a lot of red food coloring) or German chocolate. They are sometimes called names like "Death by Chocolate" This one has a vanilla cream sauce to cut the chocolateness of the cake.
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