American cuisine is essentially food preparation methods originating from the United States. Its various cooking styles and ingredients are a result of the European colonization. The various styles continued expanding well in to 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.
Some dishes that are considered American in origin have their roots in other countries.
American Chefs have substantially altered these dishes over many years to the degree that the dishes have gotten international recognition and are modified to the level that they are considered American. Hamburgers and hotdogs both are dishes that have origins in Germany; though their modern day cousins are considered American.
Many companies in the American food industry develop new products requiring minimal preparation, such as frozen entrees. 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, is commonly found in American homes.Corporate kitchens have developed many widely used consumer recepies. Fusion of multiple ethnic groups and regional approaches into new styles of cooking is the life and soul of American cuisine.
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 roots were often cooked directly in the ashes of the fire.
As early American Indians lacked the proper 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 bricks 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 South-western United States, they also created ovens made of adobe called hornos in which to bake items such as breads made from cornmeal and in other parts of America, made ovens out of dug pits.
These pits were also used to steam foods by adding heated rocks or embers and then seaweed or corn husks (or other coverings) 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.
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.
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. Substitutes in cases such as this included cornmeal.
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 American Indians or the French.
[box_dark]Notable American Chefs[/box_dark]
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.
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, Alice Waters, and celebrity chefs like Mario Batali, Alton Brown, Emeril Lagasse, Cat Cora, Michael Symon, Bobby Flay, Ina Garten, Todd English, Sandra Lee, and Paula Deen.
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