The American Food Revolutions: Cuisines in America
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
"Cuisine" is a specific set of cooking traditions and practices, often associated with a specific culture. It is often named after the region or place where its underlining culture is present. A cuisine is primarily influenced by the ingredients that are available locally or through trade. A traditional cuisine is a coherent tradition of food preparation that rises from the daily lives and kitchens of a people over an extended period of time in a specific region of a country, or a specific country, and which, when localized, has notable distinctions from the cuisine of the country as a whole. Cuisines are usually also shaped by what food resources are available. There are many "ethnic" cuisines.
The "Ethnic Cuisines": Here are recommended books on Ethnic Cuisines, and a few on how Restaurants have "Americanized" or "New Cuisined" them. Pasta Primavera is an example of an Americanized Italian dish - combining traditional techniques with new ingredients to make a dish not actually traditional Italian, though most people think it is.
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. And for a lighthearted look at a 1950's American Kitchen Who Put the Devil in Deviled Eggs?: A Food Lover's Guide to America's Favorite Dishes by Ann Treistman
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.
- Ethnic Cuisine: How to Create the Authentic Flavors of Over 30 International Cuisines and
Crossroads Coooking: The Meetings and Mating of Ethnic Cuisines - from Burma to Texas By Elizabeth Rozin look at the distinctives and interactions of international cuisines. For a book on eating out in ethnic restaurants, Try This: Traveling the globe without leaving the Table is an adventurous guide to eating out by Danyelle Freeman which may demystify those unfamiliar things on the menu.
- French Cuisine and Nouvelle Cuisine became the dominent force in the 1950's. Julia Child's two-volume Mastering the Art of French Cooking and a restaurant Le Pavilion opened by Henri Soule in New York City had a lot to do with this, as did the combination of soldiers returning from Europe, housewives wanting to impress at dinner parties and Julia's TV shows. The simpler country cooking of France described in Provincial French Cuisine by Elizabeth David ; and in Simple French Food and The French Menu Cookbook by Richard Olney inspired Alice Waters who opened the highy influential Chez Panisse in Berkeley, one of the springboards of America's culinary revolution.
- Italian cuisine emerged into popularity in the 1970's, in part due to Dean & DeLuca, who first imported Basalmic Vinegar, Sundried Tomatoes, and Radicchio; and in part by the restaurant Le Cirque , in New York City popularized Italian Cuisines. The Traditional Standard is Wiki Pasta Primavera is an example of an Americanized Italian dish. How Italian Food Conquered the World by John Mariani reveals that La Cuisina Italiana only came together after Italian Unification in 1861 - items like Pizza and Tomato Sauce entered in the 1880's. Much of the cuisine's development was by immigrants to the United States in the erarly 1900's. Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan, see also her Marcella Says is based on her cooking classes.
- On Top of Spaghetti by Johanne Killeen and George German has lots of good pasta recipes from their restaurant. Scott Conant's New Italian Cooking and Bold Italian and
Stir: Mixing It Up in the Italian Tradition Barbara Lynch explore new possibilities with Italian Cuisine. Popular TV chefts include Mary Ann Esposito and Giada De Laurentiis, though there are many other Italian cookbooks available.
- Mexican Cuisine became popular in the late 1980's. Mark Miller's Coyote Cafe helped. Rick Bayless Authentic Mexican: Regional Cooking from the Heart of Mexico and Dianne Kennedy's The Essential Cuisines of Mexico. This cuisine is not to be confused with Tex-Mex Cuisine which is what many "Mexican" restaurants serve in the US.
- For Greek Cuisine - very healthy Mediterranean fare - there are
The Food and Wine of Greece: More Than 300 Classic and Modern Dishes from the Mainland and Islands and
The Glorious Foods of Greece: Traditional Recipes from the Islands, Cities, and Villages by Diane Kochilas are excellent books on traditional Greek cuisines.
- If you desire to explore the various cuisines of India:
Madhur Jaffrey Indian Cooking by Jaffrey is recommended and 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer is a "jam packed" treasure chest of flavors. Indo Chinese and Thai Cuisines have recently become popular. Bach Ngo's The Classic Cuisine of Vietnam, Real Thai: The Best of Thailand's Regional Cooking by Nancie McDermott and Classic Thai Cuisine by David Thompson.
- Spanish Cuisine La Cocina de Mama: The Great Home Cooking of Spain by Penelope Casas
See also Cooking at Eldrbarry's and Going Green for more of Eldrbarry's Cook Book Pages.
Coming soon - Pages on America's Food Revolution and a History of the Food Industry in the Northwest