Diversity in “American” Food

Image courtesy of Nick Nguyen on Flickr

What is American Food? If you asked almost anyone, people would name foods such as hamburgers, hot dogs, meatloaf, roast beef, fried chicken, and the list goes on. These foods, however, are not what Americans eat every day. So what do they eat? American cooking has now become more diverse and can be seen as a reflection of our nation’s diversity. Common meals now include foods from Europe, Central America, Africa, and China. These meals not only add diversity but also are often times much healthier than typical “American dishes.”

A paradigm to this would be Highland Park located in Los Angeles. I have ventured out into this area and have found myself struggling to pick a place to eat because of all the options available. At night there are several taco trucks to chose from, Thai food restaurants, Indian food restaurants, Italian food restaurants, and many more. Some places in the United States have more than others, but no matter where you are I am sure there are at least a few culturally diverse restaurants.

Something that I find very interesting with the growth in “non-American” food is the fact that many Americans love to brag about going to eat at exotic new places. I have many friends that love talking about their experiences trying something new and eating something they would not normally eat such as Indian food or Thai food. The reason I find this interesting is because of the assimilation theory. For a long time now immigrants have been expected to assimilate into the American society, but now there are more and more Americans trying to experience other cultures, specifically through food. If immigrants all fully assimilated, Americans would not have the opportunity for this diversity, especially since immigrants are the ones starting many of these restaurants. I do not think America would be the same if the only option we had for dinner was between meatloaf and a hot dog.

8 responses to “Diversity in “American” Food

  1. Not only are we being introduced to new foods such as, Thai, Japanese, and Arabic, but the classic “American” dishes were also immigrant foods once upon ago. Certainly these options is one of the benefits many people overlook when tackling the issue of immigration.

  2. In response to the post as well as the comment above, I don’t think that there is a definite category of “American food.” It is extremely common to come across restaurants affiliated with a certain country, but you never come across an American restaurant because it’s impossible to define what American food is. I think the notion of so-called American food is based on the stereotypes that Americans are overweight and not conscious about their diets.

  3. I completely agree with this post.
    My mom started a Filipino food booth at my elementary school festival one year and it became a tradition ever since. My friends told me excitedly that they tried Filipino food and that they loved it! It’s a great feeling to know that other people accept and enjoy the food of my ethnic heritage; I’m sure that others of different ethnic backgrounds feel the same way.

  4. This post emphasizes the belief that the United States is a country of immigrants. Everyone comes together, bringing their own heritage, culture, dialect, food, etc. What would our country be without immigrants? It is interesting how many American restaurants create their own versions of “ethnic” or “exotic” foods. Pizza in the U.S. is extremely different from pizza in Italy. I agree that there is not a distinct “American” food, it is a mixture of many different cultures that make up the United States.

  5. I completely agree with you! I think part of what makes America America, is the diversity. How many places in the world are home to people of completely different backgrounds and cultures from around the world? I think that food is a great indication of our uniqueness. When I think of the foods I eat on a daily basis, I can trace almost all of them to a place outside of the United States. Just last night I had Thai food for dinner! I would hate to see the United States ever lose its cultural diversity. In fact I’m not sure I know what America would look like without it. We truly are a nation of immigrants.

  6. This topic is all the more interesting when you have natives tasting America’s so called “Chinese” or “Mexican” food because many claim that the food isn’t authentic at all. Just as immigrants’ experiences and knowledge certainly change America’s landscape and food culture, America too affects the food and taste of the immigrants food.

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  8. Whenever I search for recipes for American dishes I end up finding the same things: meatloaf, burgers, bacon-eggs, fried chicken, pies, muffins. I always reach the conclusion that the American foods are not very diverse. The same ingredients and the same method of preparation. If Americans had more types of food, they would probably be more demanding in choosing what to eat. This would result in less fast foods and junk foods. If I were to go on a “culinary expedition”, probably America would be the last one on the list.

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