People all over the world love American food.
But what is American food, anyway?
That question is a bit harder to answer. Because the United States is a melting pot that incorporates many different cultures, it really includes a little of everything.
Of course, there are certain items that come to mind right away when you think of American food. Hamburgers, hot dogs, meatloaf, french fries, southern fried chicken, and apple pie all pop up immediately when you begin to think of the basic American foods that are common in this country.
American food is much more than just that, though. Read on to learn more about what is so special and unique about American food culture. And, be prepared to be hungry for everything mentioned after you’re done!
When it comes to American food, there are certain things that are staples. Almost every meal includes meat – often beef – and some type of starch; most often that starch is some form of potatoes. Vegetables are often included in a standard American meal, but they are rarely the centerpiece, and sometimes they are left out altogether.
American food is heavy and, more often than not, greasy. Portions are usually quite large, but despite that, there’s almost always room for some sort of rich dessert as well.
Although American meals can and often do divert from this formula, if you’re thinking about a full meal of American food, chances are that it checks many or all of the boxes above.
The United States is vast and diverse. As a result, the most common and most popular foods vary based on region.
In the southeast, you’ll find lots of fried chicken, biscuits, gravy, fried green tomatoes, and peach cobbler.
New York City is well-known for its pizza, but Chicagoans will tell you theirs is the very best.
The west coast is the home of many popular fish dishes, particularly in the Pacific Northwest. The influence of Asian immigrants to this area is obvious, and you’ll find the nation’s best sushi here.
You can’t visit New England without having some lobster, and the Midwestern part of the country is known for comfort foods like meatloaf and casseroles.
Do you like food that is influenced by Mexico and Central American countries? Then you’ll love southwestern and Tex-Mex cuisine; these reflect our neighbors to the south, but also include a unique American twist.
If you love foods like brisket and pulled pork, try the south-central part of the United States; that region is known for barbecue.
As you can see, “American food” encompasses many different things – and this is really just a simple overview. There are many more regional foods to consider and try, and even many of these regional foods vary a bit from city to city and state to state.
There’s something for everyone in the restaurants of the United States. You’ll just have to try it all.
The Great American Cookout
There are a few foods that are wholly American even though you can buy many of them in other countries as well. Almost everyone worldwide can agree that hamburgers are an American food, and part of that is because Americans love to cook out whenever they can.
American holidays like the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, and Labor Day are all known for gatherings of families and friends in parks and yards across the country, eating American traditional foods.
Cookouts include more than just hamburgers, though. At any cookout, you can expect to find hotdogs, potato salad, coleslaw, barbecued ribs, corn on the cob, sloppy joes, barbecued chicken, and more. Dessert often consists of something chocolate and some JELL-O, usually presented in some visually appealing manner.
Every American has fond memories of cookouts throughout their lives, and the memories of the foods listed above go right along with them. You can find this sort of food in restaurants too, however, like in the Beck’s Prime Restaurant chain in Texas for one example.
Much of the United States is cold in the winter and comfort food is Americans’ answer to that. The summertime is all about the types of cookouts described above, but winter, on the other hand, is all about thick, hot, filling foods that make you feel all warm inside.
Foods like pot roast, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, chicken pot pie, pasta, thick soups, and macaroni and cheese are all perfect examples of American comfort food. Although almost all of the above-mentioned dishes came from other parts of the world originally, Americans have adopted them as their own.
You may be full after a heavy American meal, but you’ll want to make room for dessert. The United States is known as the home of pie and while apple pie may be the most popular, pecan, pumpkin, cherry, mincemeat, rhubarb, and key lime pie are all fantastic as well. You also may enjoy the vast flavors of ice creams available in ice cream shops nationwide, and almost everyone loves a nice big chunk of strawberry shortcake, too.
Thanks to the beautiful and wonderful diversity in the United States, you can enjoy all types of world cuisines within this nation’s borders.
Some of it is quite authentic and is cooked and served by immigrants from every corner of the globe. More of it, though, demonstrates clear American influence in its flavors; for example, there are “Mexican” and “Chinese” dishes that exist in the United States that are not available in Mexico or China.
Whether you like these Americanized versions of traditional international foods or not, they are undoubtedly a big part of American cuisine as well.
Enjoy American Food
As mentioned time and time again above, there’s truly something for everyone when it comes to American food. There are some consistent features when it comes to food in the United States, but the reality is that it is very diverse. Whether you like standard American foods or if you want to try food from another country with an American twist, you’ll never run out of different options.
Hungry yet? After reading this post you likely are; head into the kitchen or out to a restaurant and enjoy your favorite American food right now!
If you’re interested in reading more great posts about food, check out the Food Travel section of our site for more!