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Cuisine of the United States Go Back
The cuisine of the United States is a style of cooking derived from the United States. The cuisine has a history dating back before the colonial period when the Native Americans had a rich and diverse cooking style for an equally diverse amount of ingredients. With European colonization, the style of cookery changed vastly, with numerous ingredients introduced from Europe, as well as cooking styles and modern cookbooks. The style of cookery continued to expand into the 19th and 20th centuries with the influx of immigrants from various nations across the world. This influx has created a rich diversity in the country that has also created a unique regional character throughout the country. In addition to cookery, cheese and wine play an important role in the cuisine. The wine industry is regulated by American Viticultural Areas (AVA) (regulated appellation), similar to those laws found in countries like France and Italy.
Before the European colonists came to America, the Native Americans had an established cookery style that varied greatly from group to group. The vast variety of ingredients and cookery styles were never found in the same locality; any one group had a much more limited diet. Nutrition was an issue for most hunting and gathering societies, that wandered widely in search of game, and might encounter serious shortages in wintertime.
Plant foods
The native Americans had at least 2,000 separate plant foods which contributed to their cooking. Numerous root vegetables were indigenous to America. Root vegetables were numerous in the diet including camas bulb, arrowhead, blue lapine, bitterroot, biscuit root, breadroot, prairie turnip, sedge tubers, and whitestar potatoes (Ipomoea lacunosa) along with the sweet potato and white potato. Greens included salmonberry shoots and stalks, coltsfoot, fiddlehead fern, milkweed, wild celery, dandelion leaves, wood sorrel, purslane, and wild nasturtium. Other vegetables include century plant crowns and flower shoots, yucca blossoms, tule rootstocks, amole stalks, bear grass stalks, cattail rootstocks, narrowleaf yucca stalks, and sotol crowns.[2] Fruits included strawberries which Europeans named the Virginia strawberry due to being larger than the European dwarf mountain strawberry. Additional fruits included huckleberries, blueberries, cherries, currants, gooseberries, plums, crab apples, raspberries, sumac berries, juniper berries, hackberries, elderberries, hawthorne fruit, pitaya, white evening primrose fruit, and yucca fruit (of various species, such as Spanish bayonet, banana yucca). Some fruits which were found only in North America at the time were the fruit of various species of cactus (e.g., cholla, saguaro, nipple cactus, prickly pear, etc.), agarita berries, chokecherries, American persimmons, and the wild beach plum.
Land animal foods
The largest amount of animal protein came from game meats. Large game included deer, elk, moose, bighorn sheep, and bear, mountain lion, along with goat and pronghorn being found in the Rocky Mountains. The small game cooked included rabbit, raccoon, opossum, squirrel, wood rat, chipmunk, ground hog, peccary, prairie dog, skunk, badger, beaver, and porcupine. Game birds included turkey, partridge, quail, pigeon, plover, lark and osprey. Water fowl was quite abundant and varied, particularly on the coasts such as ducks, geese, swan, crane and sea crane. Other amphibious proteins included alligators and frogs, which the legs were enjoyed from, especially bullfrogs. Snail meat was also enjoyed, along with various turtles such as the painted turtle, wood turtle, and snapping turtle along with their eggs. In addition the sea turtle and green turtle, endangered today were considered an important spiritual protein by the Native Americans.
Blue crab was cooked by Native Americans on the east coast of America.Saltwater fish eaten by the native Americans were cod, lemon sole, flounder, herring, halibut, sturgeon, smelt, drum on the East Coast, and olachen on the West Coast. Whale was hunted by Native Americans[clarify] on the West Coast, which they held a taboo against eating at a meal which included deer meat. Seal and walrus were also utilized. Eel from New York's Finger Lakes region were eaten. Catfish seemed to be favored by tribes, including the Modocs. Crustacean included shrimp, lobster, crayfish, and giant crabs in the Northwest and blue crabs in the East. Other shellfish include abalone and geoduck on the California coast, while on the East Coast the surf clam, quahog, and the soft-shell clam. Oysters were eaten on both shores, as were mussels and periwinkles.
Cooking methods
Native Americans utilized a number of cooking methods. Grilling meats was common. Spit roasting over a pit fire was common as well. Vegetables, especially root vegetables were often cooked directly in the ashes of the fire. As early Native Americans lacked the proper pottery that could be used directly over a fire, they developed a technique which has caused many anthropologists to call them Stone Boilers. The Native Americans would heat rocks directly in a fire and then add the bricks to a pot filled with water until it came to a boil so that it would cook the meat or vegetables in the boiling water. Another method was to use an empty buffalo stomach filled with desired ingredients and suspended over a low fire. The fire would have been insufficient to completely cook the food contained in the stomach however, as the flesh would burn so heated rocks would be added to the food as well. Some Native Americans would also use the leather of a buffalo-hide in the same manner.
The Native Americans are created as the first in America to create fire-proof pottery to place in direct flame. The Southwest Native Americans had also created ovens made of adobe called hornos in which to bake items such as breads made from cornmeal. Native Americans in other parts of America made ovens out of dug pits. These pits were also used to steam foods by adding heated rocks or embers and then seaweed or corn husks (or other coverings) placed on top to steam fish and shellfish as well as vegetables; potatoes would be added while still in-skin and corn while in-husk, this would later be referred to as a clambake by the colonists. The hole was also a location for producing what has become Boston baked beans made from beans, maple sugar and a piece of bear fat.
Alcoholic drinks
Prior to the revolution New Englanders consumed large quantities of rum and beer as they had relatively easy access of the goods needed to produce these items from maritime imports. Rum was the distilled spirit of choice as the main ingredient; molasses was readily available from trade with the West Indies. Further, into the interior, one would often find colonists consuming whiskey, as they did not have similar access to the sugar cane. They did have ready access to corn and rye, which they used to produce their whiskey. However, up until the Revolution many considered whiskey to be a coarse alcohol unfit for human consumption, as many believed that it caused the poor to become raucous and unkempt drunkards. One item that was important to the production of beer that did not grow well in the colonies however was hops. Hops only grew wild in the New World, and as such, importation from England and elsewhere became essential to beer production. In addition to these alcohol-based products produced in America, imports were seen on merchant shelves, including wine and brandy.
20th century - 21st century
One characteristic of American cooking is the fusion of multiple ethnic or regional approaches into completely new cooking styles. The cuisine of the South, for example, has been heavily influenced by immigrants from Africa, France, and Mexico, among others. Asian cooking has played a particularly large role in American fusion cuisine.
Similarly, while some dishes considered typically American many have their origins in other countries, American cooks and chefs have substantially altered them over the years, to the degree that the dish as now enjoyed the world over may even be considered American. Hot dogs and hamburgers are both based on traditional German dishes, brought over to America by German immigrants to the United States, but in their modern popular form they can be reasonably considered American dishes.


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