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Jan 25, 2007 06:56 PM

How long does it take for a newly introduced food to become mainstream?

The new American cuisine no longer represents the food made in the kitchen a couple of generations ago. It even has its own restaurant category. American (new) as opposed to American (traditional).

Pizza and burritos are on the verge of becoming mainstream, if they haven't already. An entirely new cuisine can get incorporated into another - rijsttafel originated in Indonesia, but it's now a form of traditional dinner enjoyed in Holland.

Time seems to be the key to feeling at ease with something new, initially met with cautious welcome or possibly hostility.

What are the foods long ago introduced as novelty which have comfortably taken their place in the mainstream American cooking?

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  1. Well I'm Canadian, but my 60-something mother reports that neither pasta or rice were served regularly at her mother's table. It was potatoes, bread, more potatoes, and more bread. But this has to be regional

    1 Reply
    1. re: julesrules

      Nope, I don't believe it was regional - I can't say for sure, but potatoes and bread pretty much ruled. They still do, essentially, and I love them!

      (And yes, pasta and rice are mainstream now.)

    2. i grew up in nyc, and pasta and pizza certainly were mainstream for us. (i'm 40.) we had pasta all the time, but rice was once in a blue moon. and there were good pizza joints all over the place.

      frozen burritos are in every convenience store and freezer section. salsa is the most popular condiment now (having overtaken ketchup). seems like that took about 15 or 20 years? i remember my mom serving it on taco night.

      i think coastal cities tend to "mainstream" stuff before interior areas do, simply because of immigrant population demographics. with overnight shipping and the internet, i think foods will take hold more quickly than before. however, i think the key remains how easy the word is to pronounce. you may sneer, but that's a truism in restaurants -- with wine or food, people are often too embarrassed if they can't pronounce something so won't order it.

      how do we know when something really is mainstream? i still have guests ask "what's this?" about items like taboulleh and risotto. i feel like the guy must have been living under a rock. i have the same response when somebody says they've never had sushi, because i have it once a week.

      so what makes a food common? when kraft or general mills comes out with some ersatz boxed version?

      3 Replies
      1. re: hotoynoodle

        >>>the key remains how easy the word is to pronounce. you may sneer, but that's a truism in restaurants

        I, for one, am not sneering - I do believe in names. I still remember first having some gorgeous marzipan-like Thai treats a classmate's mom brought to school. I was then attending Dover Court Preparatory School in Singapore. I didn't know what they were called, so I just called them satin bonbons. When I found out they were called "luk chup" all I could think of was "lousy ketchup".

        There are many spices and condiments which might be more popular if only they had a good name. One candidate I am rooting for is torch ginger, just because it has an easy name.

        1. re: grocerytrekker

          ooh, torch ginger sounds sexy! i've never seen it... is it a variety? a condiment?

          1. re: hotoynoodle

            It's the most beautiful condiment you'll ever see!
            Think lemon grass meets tulip.