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Nov 23, 2009 09:03 AM

Elements Of Americanization?

With this topic I would like to explore the common elements in the "Americanization" of foreign cuisines. Some of these cuisines are more familiar than others, such as American Italian, American Chinese, non-traditional sushi rolls. Do you think there are certain things that generally take place when a cuisine is Americanized?

One obvious element is the removal of offals. Another related element is to make food look less like the animal it came from, such as removing bones, heads, skin. These are not taste changes though. As far as tastes go, perhaps the removal of pungent herbs. Another obvious element is a great reduction of fat, especially visible fat attached to the meat.

What else?

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  1. I've known Chinese cooks who reduced the amount of salt (because soy sauce is often added prodigiously by the non-Chinese customer). Chinese food relies on texture as well as flavor, but most American palates tend to minimize texture. That's why you won't see something like sea cucumber on an Americanized-Chinese menu.

    Finally, removing the skin or bones does change the taste of the food because they are considered part of the original ethnic dish (e.g Beijing duck).

    1. Things frequently become sweeter than in the original dish.

      1. Yes. adding sugar or corn syrup & bright orange coloring to Chinese food seems to be one way to americanizing it. Oh, and quadrupling the portion size, of course '-D

        1. For the most part, you also tend to see a major toning down of the heat in terms to spice. This occurs quite often in Thai and Caribbean cooking, but also Mexican and Indian.

          1. More meat, fewer organs and heads, reduced spices in some cases, less fat, no blood, "sanitized" fish, few or no small mammals, no rodents large or small, ....

            Then there are a lot of preparations that reflect what is not available in the US, but is available elsewhere and vice - versa.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

              I'd like to think that's changing somewhat but I'm not expecting to find guinea pig/cuy at Applebee's any time soon.