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American Food Culture

Food culture of all nationalities in the world is all-encompassing, and American food culture is no exception. It is undoubtedly of positive significance for English learners to have a good understanding of American food culture. This article will simply introduce American food, American restaurants, American cooking and American eating habits.

American Food Culture

American Food Culture

First, American food

Knowing American food can let us know the essence of American culture. What is “American food”? For many people, American food is hamburger, hot dog, fried chicken and steak. For people with sweet food, they may think of apple pie or chocolate chip cookies. Thanksgiving turkey is a typical American food. The United States is a land of immigrants, so the food Americans eat comes from many different countries. When people immigrate to the United States, they also bring in their cooking skills. So in the United States you can see almost all the food of different nationalities. In some cases, Americans regard foreign food as their favorite. Americans like Italian pizza, Mexican tortillas and Chinese spring rolls. Of course, the American version of these things is not very authentic!

The United States has several distinct regions, each of which has its own special food to be proud of. Visit the southern United States to enjoy rural cooking; Visit Louisiana to taste spicy Cajun cuisine. Take a trip to New England to try its delicious seafood feast. Then go to the midwest “hometown of American bread” to taste delicious baked goods. Take a boat tour to the southwest to try some Mexican snacks, and finally go to the Pacific Northwest to drink some coffee as the end of the gourmet tour.

With the quickening pace of American life, Americans living at a fast pace can usually only “eat a few bites quickly.” So fast food came into being. Sandwich is one of the most common American fast food. Anything that can be sandwiched between two slices of thin bread can be made into a sandwich by Americans. Peanut butter and jam have always been popular with Americans. Fast food chain stores spread all over the country, offering all kinds of fast food to busy Americans, including hamburgers, roast beef, steak, ham, sandwiches, fried chicken, fried rice, fried potato chips, baked pies, ice cream and various carbonated beverages. This food is sometimes fast food, sometimes not; It may be junk food or natural food. However, they are all American in any case.

Second, American restaurants Food and beverage in the United States is characterized by diversity, with restaurants of various flavors from all over the world in most large cities. European restaurants are dominated by French and Italian restaurants, which have good environment and high prices. Chinese restaurants are spread all over the United States, mainly in Guangdong, selling seafood dishes at moderate prices. Other restaurants include Japan, India, Middle East, Latin America and Southeast Asia. There are three kinds of restaurants with rich local characteristics in the United States.

1. Cafeteria: this is especially convenient for newcomers or tourists who are not familiar with English. Different from the more formal European buffet rooms, on the counter of American cafeteria, the food is full of variety, both cold and hot. Customers carry plates and knives and forks to the counter to pick them up at will and then pay at the cashier at one end of the counter. The food in the cafeteria is cheaper and there is no need to tip. Customers carry trays to empty seats themselves, usually with the consent of the guests who are already sitting nearby before they can sit.

2. Formal restaurants: their specifications vary in size. Small restaurants have low prices and low service quality. The grand restaurant is magnificent and the customers have everything they need. There are many ethnic restaurants and foreign restaurants to choose from in big cities. Since the prices of each restaurant in each city are different, it is best to look at the restaurant list in the local magazine, which lists the price details of each restaurant. If you want to eat some special dishes, you can also refer to the restaurant section in the yellow pages of the telephone book. Most formal restaurants have some dishes, full meals and special meals. Catering food includes fish, meat, salad, eggs, etc. Customers can order at will. The whole meal is divided into appetizers, entrees, vegetables, desserts and drinks, and is also optional. Special meal refers to a daily meal, including a dish made of meat or fish, plus vegetables, salad, bread and butter. Among them, ordering dishes is the most expensive and special dishes are the cheapest. In a formal restaurant, you have to tip about 15% of the meal. Tip more when dining in a fancy restaurant or when the service is especially good. Tips are not included in the bill and are paid separately by the customer. You can keep the change or leave the money on the table when paying.

3. Fast food shops, snack bars, delicatessens and lunch rooms: There are popular fast food shops everywhere in big cities, of which the fast food chains of McDonald’s and KFC are the most influential. French fried potatoes, Italian pies, hamburgers, fried fish sandwiches, roast beef sandwiches, etc. are sold there. No tip is required for eating here. Breakfast in the snack bar is doughnuts and coffee, and lunch is sandwiches, which are cheaper to eat or buy in the shop. However, a tip is required for eating in the store. Cooked food shops also sell fast and affordable lunches, usually with a variety of sandwiches and salads, and tips are required for eating in the shops. Lunch room is usually set up in the station or shop, selling breakfast, simple lunch and fast food. The store has a long counter with chairs or partitioned seats in front of it. Customers can sit in and eat. Lunch room has many kinds of food, fast service and economy. It is a place frequented by travelers. You should leave a tip on the counter after eating. American restaurants generally operate round the clock, but some are closed at night and on Sundays.

In addition, many American cities have bars. Business hours vary from region to region. A bar selling sandwiches and light meals is called a “cocktail lounge” or hotel. Some bars play records or have bands to accompany them and can dance. Single men and women in big cities and university towns often patronize bars. However, bars are also classy and vulgar. It is better to find out before going.

3. American cooking Americans who live at home buy simple food. A bag of bread, a can of drink, a few onions and occasionally a plate of beef. They seldom use condiments, but salad oil is the most used. Microwave dinners and real-time meals make cooking at home easy and fast. From busy housewives to office workers, many Americans like to enjoy the convenience of prepackaged snacks, which can be served in less than 10 minutes. Many Americans agree on the value of cooking. Most Americans admit that there is nothing like a home-made meal. Baking is a major method of cooking in the United States. The dinner menu usually includes “baked goods”, roast meat and other baked goods. Therefore, Americans will find it almost impossible to live without an oven. American chefs also pay special attention to food balance. When planning a big meal, they will try to add meat, some vegetables, some bread or pasta, and usually have dessert. They also like to make their meals colorful. If there are different colors of food on the plate, it is usually considered a healthy meal. Friends often write their favorite recipes on cards and circulate them to each other to increase their recipe collection. In fact, the United States, a “land of immigrants”, has introduced various kinds of cooking, and most famous cooks in the United States can be competent for several kinds of cooking.

Fourth, American dining customs

1. How to eat three meals

American eating habits are also three meals a day, but they are not meticulous, casual, fast and convenient, not luxurious, and more popular. Fast food is usually eaten at noon. Breakfast is usually at 8 a.m. Breakfast content varies from region to region. A simple breakfast may be juice, cereal, toast and coffee. There may also be pancakes, cornflakes, sausages, ham and eggs of various kinds. Oatmeal, which Americans often drink, is made from oats and mixed with milk and white sugar. Corn flakes are small brown crispy flakes made of corn flour, which are soaked in white sugar and milk and then eaten. Americans usually eat breakfast at home, but sometimes they also use breakfast to discuss business or raise money, which is called “working breakfast”. Businessmen and politicians sometimes have breakfast with their colleagues to start the day’s work. The president often has breakfast with the leaders of the congress, during which he understands the prospect of completing the legislative procedures for the bill he proposes. The church and the society often hold fund-raising breakfast. Volunteers prepare a full breakfast for the guests who pay a certain fee.
Lunch is usually from 12 to 1 noon or from 1 to 2 p.m. Because the time is short. In addition, people usually work far away from home, so people who work or go to school seldom go home for lunch, but bring food from home. The American lunch is the simplest of the three meals, and the quantity is not large. It usually consists of vegetables and sandwiches, hamburgers or pizza, hot dogs, and a drink. Dinner is generally regarded as a main meal, which starts at about 6 o’clock in the evening and is usually quite rich. Usually a fruit juice or soup is served first, followed by the main course. Common entrees include steak, pork chops, roasted beef brisket, fried chicken, fried shrimp, ham and roasted lamb chops. The main course included vegetables, bread, butter, rice, noodles, etc. Europeans are used to eating a fruit or cheese last, which is out of fashion in the United States. Most Americans like to eat a dessert after dinner. Such as cake, home-made patty or ice cream, and finally have a cup of coffee. Most American families have the habit of eating snacks before going to bed. Children usually drink a cup of milk and eat a cookie. Adults eat fruit and candy.

On weekends or holidays, many families eat only two meals, i.e. breakfast and lunch are combined into one meal, called brunch, which is usually quite abundant and also regarded as main meal. Some families don’t cook on Sundays. The whole family goes out to have a light meal or eat out. On sunny holidays, American families often hold picnics and outdoor barbecues. The former takes cooked food such as roasted chicken in baskets and takes them to the wild to eat. The latter is to light a charcoal fire in one’s courtyard or suburb and cook the raw food before eating it. Some parks even provide barbecue cooking utensils for tourists.

2. Characteristics of diet Some Chinese summed up the characteristics of American rice as follows: first, raw, steak bloodshot; Second, it is cold. All drinks are filled with ice. Three is sweet, no sweet no meal, no meal no sweet. This is, of course, their judgment according to their own tastes, but it is also to the point.
Americans have a lighter taste, and like to eat raw and cold food, such as salad, tenderloin steak, etc., and hot soup is not very hot. The taste of dishes is usually salty and slightly sweet. Frying, deep-frying, stir-frying and roasting are the main cooking methods, instead of braising and steaming. Meat, fish and vegetables are the staple food, bread, noodles and rice are the non-staple food. Sweets include cakes, home-made patties, ice cream, etc. They like to eat green beans, cabbage, bean sprouts, sword beans, mushrooms and other vegetables. The meat used is first bone removed, fish head and tail and bone spur removed, shrimp and crab shelled. Americans like to eat sweet and sour fish, sweet and sour pork, fried beef, fried steak, fried pork chop, roasted chicken, fried chicken and other meat dishes. Americans like to drink ice water, mineral water, Coca-Cola, beer, whiskey, brandy and other beverages. They like to add ice to their drinks, but they don’t like drinking tea.

Appetizing drinks such as tomato juice and orange juice are used before meals, drinks such as beer, wine and soda are used during meals, coffee is used after meals, and hard liquor is seldom drunk. Americans do not like to eat pig’s feet, chicken feet, sea cucumber, animal viscera, fat meat, etc. When cooking, do not put condiments, condiments on the dining table, soy sauce, vinegar, monosodium glutamate, pepper, chili powder, etc. Some Americans like to eat earthworms, cans and biscuits. When making cold dishes, salad oil and sauce are usually used as seasonings. Many people like to eat cantonese food, Sichuan food, sweet sauce, oyster sauce, seafood sauce and so on. Americans also like to mix whiskey, gin, vodka and other raw liquors to make cocktails.

3. hospitality American hospitality is especially related to food. Outgoing personality, enthusiasm and straightforwardness, and informality are the major characteristics of Americans. They like to invite guests to dinner, drink a cup of wine or spend the weekend at a country house as a way of making friends, but often the host follows the guest and asks the guest’s advice on the phone in order to make targeted preparations. General dinner, before the banquet is cakes, cheese, snacks; During the banquet, only one or two main courses, such as steak or roast suckling pig, were served, and everyone was told to get what they wanted. Then there is the bread slice, self-smearing butter cheese. Finally, dessert, fruit and so on. As for drinking, it is more casual, not vomiting-inducing toasts, not guessing games, “cheers” only means.
American dinners are mostly arranged in hotels and clubs because of the nature of business contacts, and the expenses are paid by the company. Relatives and friends with close ties are invited to dinner at home. The usual family dinner is a long table with a large plate of salad, a large plate of roasted chicken or barbecue, various cold dishes, a plate of fried rice, a plate of bread, sweets, fruits, cold drinks, wines, etc. The host and the guest sat around the table. The host said “please”. Everyone picked up a plate and fed on his favorite dishes. After eating, they added whatever they wanted. They talked and ate without restriction.

4. Banquet etiquette Although you don’t have to be restrained, you still need to pay attention to etiquette when you are invited to eat in American homes. For example, only when the hostess starts eating, can other people start eating. Only when the hostess leaves the table can others leave the table and cannot leave the table halfway. Another example is that sometimes the host will provide all kinds of tableware with special purpose, such as cold plate, knife and fork, fish knife and fork, meat knife and fork, main course knife and fork, fruit knife and fork, dish spoon, spoon, coffee spoon, etc. If the guest does not know the special purpose of the tableware, he can imitate the hostess. In general, only one set of knife and two sets of fork are placed on the dining table. The fork outside is used for salad, the fork inside is used for staple food and other snack food, and the knife is used for cutting meat. Europeans eat with a knife in one hand and a fork in the other, while Americans use only one hand to rotate the cutlery and the other hand on their knees. If you use both hands, you should hold the fork with your left hand and the knife with your right hand, and you should not hold the knife for too long at a time. Also remember not to use the knife as a fork! In Europe, when the right hand holds the knife and the left hand holds the fork to cut things, it is acceptable to fork the food directly into the mouth with the left hand, but in the United States, one should put down the knife, hand the fork to the right hand, and fork the food with the right hand. Napkins are laid on your lap. You cannot wipe the tableware with napkins. Sitting posture should be correct and arms should not be placed horizontally on the table. Bread should be broken into small pieces to eat. Don’t make any noise when drinking soup or chewing, and don’t sneeze, blow your nose, cough, burp or pick your teeth. The dregs cannot be spit directly in the dish, they should be caught with a fork and put into the dish. When eating, it is customary for people to praise the delicious food cooked by the hostess. Of course, the biggest compliment is to eat more and try to finish the dishes on the plate! After the meal, the guest should express special thanks to the host, especially the hostess. After the meal, you should talk with the host for a moment and then leave, but you cannot stay long. If there are more guests, they should wait for the senior guests to leave before leaving.


In short, the characteristics of American food culture can be summarized as follows: due to historical reasons, it is close to British food habits. Americans are very particular about quality and don’t require quantity. They usually don’t use condiments in the kitchen. Instead, they put all kinds of condiments on the dining table as you please. Taste is very important. It should be light and not greasy, salty and sweet. Garlic and hot and sour food are not eaten at all, not to mention fat meat, steamed and braised food, and animal viscera are forbidden. In addition, Americans like to drink mineral water, Coca-Cola, beer and other beverages. However, whiskey, brandy and other liquors are usually drunk as tea, which is quite different from the English. Americans also stress time and efficiency, so the fast food industry came into being. The most popular foods in American fast food are sandwiches, hot dogs, hamburgers and doughnuts.



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