The shaping of American cooking has been dependent on various factors - cooking technologies and available ingredients, and the variety of ethnicity of its people. The Industrial Revolution brought about a series of revolutions in food production, distribution and supply. In the American melting pot - numerous immigrant cuisines have influenced, and then been changed by America's diversity.At the same time, The America's added many new ingredients to the world's cuisines - corn (or maize), beans, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams, even the turkey. It was in the America's that they learned to barbecue. The early American diet enjoyed homily, succotash, cornpone, game birds and venison. Fish and seafood has always been a significant food source and America abounded in it. They brought to the America's grains like wheat and rye, pork, beef and chicken.
Trends and Trendsetters in Cuisines
America does not have a cuisine as such, though there are many regional cuisines. Home cooking in America often relected midwestern ethnic roots as seen in Fannie Farmer's Boston Cooking School Cook Book or Rombauer's The Joy of Cooking. Perhaps the closest to defining an "American" Cuisine is found in the food writer James Beard. Beard's many books - in particular a The Fireside Cook Book (194), a The James Beard Cook book, the New James Beard and many other books including Beard on Food.
The James Beard Foundation was created in his former home to celebrate, nurture, and preserve America’s diverse culinary heritage and future Their programs include educational workshops and other events; they sponsor scholarships for culinary students; and the annual James Beard Foundation Awards are the oscars of food and recognize and honor excellence among chefs, cookbook authors, food journalists, restaurant designers, and others working in the food and beverage industry.However, America is a melting pot of many cultures and the fusion of these has changed the things people cook and how they prepare them creating new cuisines... Beard wrote: "America has the opportunity, as well as the resources, to create for herself a truely national cuisine that will incorporate all tht is best in the traditions of the many people who have crossed the seas to form our new, still young nation."
California or New American Cuisine emerged in the late 1960's starting with Alice Waters' Chez Panisse which became an advocate for "fresh, seasonal, and local ingredients". Both Jeremiah Tower (who went on to Stars) and Wolfgang Puck (Spago, Chinois, Postrio, etc) started there before moving on to individual fame. New American cuisine is a term for upscale, contemporary cooking combining flavors from America's melting pot with traditional techniques, New American cuisine includes ethnic twists on old standbys, Old World peasant dishes made from luxury American ingredients and features significant creative use of in-season produce and sauces.
The articles on Life in the USA: America Eats on Classic American Cuisine and Modern American Cuisine are just a couple of excellent articles by Elliot Essman, who covers every aspect of America's love affair with food, including its regional cuisines.
Contact Barry McWilliams at: BMcW@eldrbarry.net