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The Formation and Development of American Food Culture

American food culture: the special cultural background of the United States has a considerable influence on cooking dishes-to understand the American food culture, we must first talk about some American history, geography and customs.

The Formation and Development of American Food Culture

The Formation and Development of American Food Culture

Two Major Factors There are two main factors in the formation and development of a nation’s national diet culture, one is the local geographical factor and the other is the pluralistic human factor. For the United States, diverse human factors are more critical than local geographic factors. In Europe and Italy, due to terrain, soil, climate and other reasons, there are differences between southern cuisine and northern cuisine, but the differences are not big. The main reason is that the common people in this country are all of the same language and the differences of human factors are not big.

There are two main factors in the formation and development of a nation’s national diet culture, one is the local geographical factor and the other is the pluralistic human factor.

France, Spain, Britain and Germany all have some different regional dishes, but there is little difference between them. However, the situation is different in Switzerland alone. The northern part of Switzerland is German, the southern part is Italian, and the western part is French. They have their own unique cooking dishes, so it is difficult to define what is real Swiss food. In Asia and China, there are Sichuan cuisine and Hunan cuisine, Ji cuisine and Liao cuisine, Beijing cuisine and Lu cuisine, su Xi cuisine and Huai yang cuisine, Hangzhou cuisine and Shanghai cuisine, and so on. although their styles and tastes are different, they are not very different, because geographical factors and human factors are similar.

However, Guangdong Cantonese cuisine, Sichuan cuisine, Shandong cuisine and Huaiyang cuisine are quite different from each other. Han, Manchu, Mongolian, Hui, Tibetan and Miao nationalities have different nationalities, different living areas and different dishes due to the double influence of human factors and geographical factors. However, the Chinese are all descendants of Yan Huang and belong to the same clan.

The situation in the United States is quite special. The land is vast and the history is short. People of different races from more than 100 countries immigrated to the United States, with a total population of about 300 million. Among them, there are 43 million Hispanic residents, 36 million black people, and more than 10 million Asian immigrants. Such a large number of immigrants have settled in the United States, established families and taken root, making the United States a melting pot for the world’s ethnic groups. Therefore, the formation of American food dishes also comes from this “melting pot”.

The foods Americans encounter most in daily life are hamburgers, fried chicken, pizza, noodles with sauce, tacos, sandwiches, hot dogs, and French fries, all of which are imported from western European countries in the early days. steak, lamb chops, pork chops, and fish chops are not the first foods invented in the United States. therefore, many people think that these foods cannot be regarded as American food with strict eyes and standards. What is real American food?

This kind of confusion was experienced and comprehended when I traveled to Shenzhen in the autumn of 2003. When I arrived in Shenzhen from Guangzhou, Shunde and Zhongshan, I asked the hotel attendants and the friends who came to the reception to have a delicious Shenzhen dish, but they looked at me in surprise and said, “what Shenzhen dish is there that I have never heard of before”. then I learned that Shenzhen is the city with the largest population of people in China. the vast majority of people living in Shenzhen, including taxi drivers, come from all over China.

It is said that there are 56 ethnic groups in China and people in 32 provinces and cities. I have not verified whether this statement is exaggerated. However, during our stay in Shenzhen, we did eat very satisfactory fast food and noodle snacks, very good and inexpensive Guangdong tea and seafood, very authentic northeast stew and dumplings, very spicy and authentic Sichuan food and Hunan food, which made my Jilin native living in San Francisco, born in Chongqing, eat a lot of delicious food and become addicted. Not only did we feel refreshed, but also the taste buds in our tongue seemed to be flexible and our belly seemed to be more flexible.

Not only can we have enough to eat for three meals, but some people invite us to have afternoon tea and have supper at night. They are also reluctant to accept it. Tired from eating all day, I went back to the hotel and lay in bed at night. what I saw and heard on TV were “hong kong cantonese cuisine, hong kong Sichuan cuisine, Shanghai cuisine, new Beijing cuisine, and fan zong cuisine …”, but I never saw or heard the advertisement of “authentic Shenzhen cuisine”. this gave me a deep feeling and inspiration. in terms of eating, Shenzhen is very much like a miniature of the United States. however, people living in Shenzhen, whether they cook or eat vegetables, are all descendants of the same Chinese people, and dishes from all over China will not come to Shenzhen subjectively or objectively.

However, it is different in the United States. The people living in the United States are not of the same species, nor are they of the same ancestry. Over time, the flavor dishes introduced to the United States from various countries in the world have changed “according to local conditions and different from person to person”.

Reasons for Early Lagging There are three reasons for the underdevelopment of the early American cooking industry and the backward cooking level:

First, the length and depth of history and culture are not enough. The United States has only 230 years of history since it became an independent country in 1776. It has only 50 to 60 years of history since it gradually developed into a rich and powerful country after the victory of the Second World War. When the primitive Indians of the United States were desperately searching for food to live on, hoping to let themselves and their families live on, they could not create any delicious food at all, let alone create a national unified cuisine.

Second, the founding spirit and nation of the United States are conservative and simple. In the early 17th century, in order to promote religious freedom and Christianity, the English Puritans sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to the United States with the spirit of adventure, struggle and not fear hardship. These devout Puritans attached importance to spiritual life instead of material life, attached importance to religious etiquette, and advocated a hard-working and simple way of life. These people are the ancestors of the United States, and their children and grandchildren living in the United States have also inherited the fine traditions and developed the moral norms of frugality, courtesy and conformity. Their mainstream values of frugality, no waste, no vanity and seeking truth from facts restrict and hinder the progress and development of delicious food.

Third, the United States has no promotion and encouragement from the royal family. China, France, Italy, Spain and even Persia, India and Thailand all had royal aristocrats who attached great importance to food. Think about it, if a country’s respect, emperor and king are happy to eat, then the innovation of cooking dishes must be greatly promoted. Whether it is the capital city, the palace or the wangfu everywhere, chefs across the country will rack their brains to surpass them in order to seek the favor of the emperor and ministers, and will surely form the driving force of by going up one flight of stairs’s food culture and cooking skills. Unfortunately, the United States seems to have only heard of lecherous presidents and no delicious presidents, so it has not formed a set of gourmet recipes that can cover the whole country. (This item is only my personal opinion)

Formation and Characteristics Influenced by early immigrants (English Puritans and American pioneers), traditional American cuisine is just like traditional American cuisine. It is characterized by “rough and crazy reality”. It uses fresh raw materials, does not rely on additives and flavoring agents, and the food keeps its original taste and flavor. The cooking process is not sloppy and slow. Neither does it require complicated work such as baking, frying or frying, nor does it require slow stewing (except for a few local dishes). It does not require too many fancy decorations. The food placed on the plate can be eaten in the stomach, and it can be thoroughly eaten. The main structure of American food is 1234, like a triangle. The most important ones are beef, chicken and fish, pigs, sheep and shrimps, and bread, potatoes, corn and vegetables.

At the end of the 20th century, with the development of American civilization and the gradual prosperity of the economy, coupled with the development of information and transportation, Americans’ demand for food also gradually increased. Especially since 1965, when the United States relaxed its immigration policy, a large number of people from all walks of life poured in from all over the world. These huge new immigrants had a huge impact on the social and cultural structure of the United States. The cooking style and cuisine characteristics brought by the new immigrants are like a spark that starts a prairie fire. As a result, rich and diversified foods appear on the dining tables of American families and restaurants.

There is no doubt that Americans all recognize that European cuisine is the ancestor of American cuisine. American cuisine uses European cuisine as its “root” and grows branches and leaves through its own cultivation and sprouting. It gradually thrives and flourishes, establishes its own main body, and even sows seeds and grafts to spread to all parts of the world. The western United States is rich in Pacific seafood and a variety of river delicacies, the freshest vegetables and fruits in the United States, and famous California dishes and fusion dishes with Asian cuisine characteristics. Texas cuisine with Mexican characteristics in the south, Louisiana cuisine with French, Spanish and African characteristics, Florida cuisine with Cuban and Brazilian tropical islands characteristics, Chicago cuisine and Pennsylvania cuisine with German, Dutch and Nordic characteristics in the midwest, New England cuisine and new york cuisine with British, French and Irish characteristics in the east, and Hawaiian cuisine with Oceanian eastern islands, Portugal and Japan characteristics … In short, you are welcome to come to the United States to taste on the spot and ensure that you will not be disappointed.



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Elmer Dills