What says "American Food" to you?
Living in a foreign country for years now, I'm always taken aback a little by what people who only visit the US occasionally (or only know it from movies and sitcoms) consider true "American Food" or American eating habits.
I'll be hosting a party for a small group of foreigners soon and would like to serve some dishes that would be different for them, but am having a hard time with the menu, so I thought I'd throw it out there and ask what American food means to foodies in the US, or foreigners who have some insights on it.
first you have to pick a section of the USA that you want to represent. Below are some of my favorite American foods.
Bar B Q
chicken fried steak
dungeness crab any way I can get it
fried cat fish
you might notice a lot of these are Southern. So am I
I grew up in NZ and 'American' food was represented as burgers (thanks to the opening of McDonalds in the 80's the subsequent arrival of Burger King and Wendy's in either the late 80's or early 90's) and tex-mex style 'Lone Star' restaurants - steaks, chicken, more burgers, giant plates of nachos and wings. A lot of emphasis on the size of the meal.
However, once I got a bit older and a little more educated thanks to a love of reading cookbooks and watching food channels on Sky (who knew that there was more to the States than LA and NY as shown on TV?) I started to see that there was a whole lot more.
So, when I think of American food now, I think of:
Burgers, hotdogs, pizza, everything served at Thanksgiving, gumbo, BBQ, grits, biscuits, cornbread, bagels, pretzels, reuben sandwiches, russian dressing, baked zitti, po boys, giant pickles, fried chicken, blackened everything, tuna (it's popular everywhere now, but as a kid canned tuna was something we read about in Baby Sitters Club books), diners, delis, soda, candy.
Funny how most of the things I think of as 'American' were introduced by different cultures - shows what a melting pot it is!
Huge Plus on ultimatepotato and Jen10. A TG dinner would be a fabulous representation of standard "American" grub. Because if you veer away from regionality and look at what our culture has "absorbed," an American meal could be described as:
Fried Chicken (Dev. in Asia or Africa)
Black Beans and Rice (Moors y Christianos, Spanish in origin)
Coleslaw (koolslaa, German in origin)
Pasta salad (a mashup: Italian/Asian/Whatever)
And it would be just as American as anything else you could serve. Especially if you add corn on the cob. Which would be the only truly uniquely Americanized foodstuff on that table. But Thanksgiving.......I like it a lot.
re: pine time
I had the same problem in Italy, but I shopped late and missed the only available birds in that village. Another friend went abroad the following year and had no problems, but you're totally right. I perceived the OP to mean that she was now here and hosting a group of people not from the States, but upon re-reading i see that was mistaken.
My Mom made a huge pot of chili for a bunch of U.K. expats, and they acted like it was the best thing they had ever eaten. Of course, they were all living in Cairo at the time, so that may have caused them to be over impressed. They also loved plain old pinto beans and cornbread.