About American cuisine Edit
A strong influence in American cuisine comes from the African slaves. The Americans inherited from them many foods, one of the most popular being the barbecue and its diverse deviations. Also, fritters and the increased use of vegetables show how the African culture affected the American cuisine. Among the most important techniques brought by them, some that are worth to be mentioned are: smoking meats, frying grains and legumes into fritters, boiling green vegetables with leaves and preparing hot, spicy sauces. At first, the Southern states knew the most powerful African influence, as there were the majority of the plantations on which the slaves worked. Soon after the railroads started crossing America, the African culture extended to the Northern and Western states, as the slaves that ran off the plantations were heading that way.
One of the factors that determine the specifics of a cuisine is the climate. The settlers brought elements of their cuisines, but were conditioned to alter their traditional culinary manners in order to suit the meteorological conditions. The foods that are cooked in Northeastern states are simple and substantial. These characteristics prove the English origins of the United States. At first, the meats and vegetables brought by the settlers were combined with local items like turkey, maple syrup, lobster, clams, cranberries and corn to result delectable specialties like Indian pudding, Boston brown bread, clam chowder and Maine boiled lobster.
The Southern territories, which were also inhabited by settlers with English origins, had a more tolerant climate. The people were advantaged by the help of the African slaves. In most cases, the meal that was made up for the slaves who worked on the plantation could not be prepared only by the wife of the farmer. This happened because the meal consisted of many dishes. Hence, there were other slaves that helped in the kitchen. Even today this habit, of serving multiple dishes such as home made breads, biscuits, salads and condiments, continues to exist in the Southern states. Nevertheless, the most popular Southern dish is the fried chicken. This food became so popular outside the region that during the present time it helped most of the fast-food networks which serve it in many variations, to spread across the country. The Southern people also consume pork. For example, the hams made in Virginia are known as the most refined in the country. The bacon and the salt pork are used to aromatize greens and beans. Ham biscuits are served at breakfast or at dinner. As well, the ham with red-eye gravy is a very popular Southern dish. This food knows a few variations, as for the making of the red-eye can be used either water or black coffee.
Some zones, such as the coastal Carolinas proved favorable for the rice crops. As a result, the cuisine in those zones is based on rice. The most famous dishes that use it as the main ingredient are Hoppin' John and Charleston Red Rice. As these zones are near to the ocean, the seafood had an important role in defining the cuisine, too. The Charleston She-crab soup represents one of the most popular sea foods. The barbecue also knows many dissimilarities from zone to zone. In Carolina, the sauce made for the barbecue distinguishes through the use of vinegar. On the other hand, in Texas and Kansas the people are promoting the sweeter sauces.
Southern Louisiana has given birth to two cuisines: Cajun and Creole. These styles of cooking are mistaken one for each other, as both have French origins and there are dishes that are made in both of them. Such an example is roux, a mixture of butter or oil and flour, which is cooked until it reaches a certain color. Other common characteristics are: the usage of rice and seafood, which are both found in large quantities in this area, as well as the increased consumption of spices. Often, these cuisines share culinary concepts. However, there are elements that strongly differentiate the two cooking styles. Creole is a sophisticated cuisine and is older, as it has its roots in the beginning of the colonization era. The territory was at first under French control. They brought from their country many concepts, but eventually added local ingredients. Spain fought to obtain domination for a long period, right until 1803, when the Americans purchased Louisiana from France. Soon after that, a conflict appeared between the United States and Spain. Presently, the Creole cuisine encloses elements of the Spanish, African and Caribbean cuisines. The flavors are enhanced with spicesand herbs and the food proves to be exquisite. Meanwhile, Cajun is a rustic cuisine, based on local ingredients and distinguishes through its simplicity. The French people that lived in Nova Scotia were forced by the British to leave in 1755. After a while, they settled in Southern Louisiana and began to use what nature provided, in order to prepare the food. Though the Cajun seasoning knows no equal, it is a mistake to believe that hot spices are used in abundance. The ingredients are carefully selected and are cooked with great patience. The dishes that made the Cajun cuisine famous are crawfish etouffée, gumbos and jambalayas.
The Southwestern cuisine has Mexican and Spanish influences. It was affected by the Mexican cuisine as the entire territory belonged to Mexico after 1845, when Spain retired from that zone. Also, the Mexican cuisine has Aztec influences. Therefore the Southwestern cuisine has very old roots. The corn, beans and chilies are a proof of how Mexico affected the style of cooking. The essential foods of this cuisine are corn tortillas, pinto beans, tamales and salsa. Pork and beef were introduced by the Spanish people.
The waves of immigrants further affected the American cuisine. Because of the Germans, Milwaukee is nowadays the beer capital of the United States. The hot dog also seems to have German provenience, as that nation has a known affinity for the sausages. The Italians are believed to have the greatest influence on the American food. The people from Southern Italy began to immigrate at the end of the nineteenth century. There is somehow a reflection of the cuisine of that zone in the cuisine of the United States. This is evidence that first the humble people from the South of Italy migrated in high numbers and then the other classes. The first Italian foods that gained popularity in the United States are spaghetti with tomato sauce and the multitude of dishes based on pasta. Pizza also became famous and spread all over the country. "Chicago pizza" is one of the best known variations of this food. Osso bucco is another popular Italian food cooked by the Americans. Artichokes and eggplants were introduced in the American cuisine by the Italian farmers.
The Southern immigrants marked the cooking style of the Americans. There are many Mexican restaurants that serve tacos, quesadillas, chili verde, and chilies rellenos. Burrito is another Mexican food widely known in the United States. Chinese laborers were employed to build the railroads. They carried with them a piece of their culture from their country and now there are districts named Chinatowns in many great cities. The Chinese community is one of the largest in the US. Thai food is renowned and people anticipate that the next Asian cuisine that will affect the national culinary scene is the Vietnamese cuisine.
The Americans gathered concepts from all these cuisines and added some local elements in order to obtain something new: the American cuisine. It is already defined by complexity, but there is no doubt that in the future it will progress. The American cuisine is could be called a fusion cuisine, due to its many influences.
Californian cuisine is a harsh reply to the aim of the rest of the nation to copy the European cuisine. It distinguishes through the use of fresh and in season ingredients. The people have artichokes, fava beans and haricots crops on one side, while they have bok choy, Chinese broccoli, lemon grass, Thai basil and Vietnamese mint on the other side. During the summer they grow heirloom tomatoes and tomatillos, avocados and Asian pears, as well as a multitude of pepper varieties. These ingredients assure the freshness and the flavour of the food.
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