Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Food Origins

Our son, K, who is living with us for a little while, has always been a trivia buff.  During a family dinner of spaghetti the conversation turned to foods that originated in the United States.   He proceeded to inform us of foods that originated in the US and those that didn't.  I could see a mini-lesson coming on as hubby had to make sure K was correct.

But before we get down to the actual list, it's always good to have a little background for you trivia buffs....

Some foods that we think of as truly American didn't actually have their start here.  Many dishes have originated in other countries and then were modified (Americanized, I like to say) or evolved into what we know them as today.

Apple pie, hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, chocolate, jelly beans, ice cream, steak, potato salad, watermelon all originated in other countries and were brought to America by the colonists and immigrants.  Many native foods play a key role in Americanized dishes but don't tell the whole story. 

 Native Americans ate corn, squash, and beans.  These foods are known as the "The Three Sisters" and were consumed by several Native American tribes.  Several varieties of nuts, vegetables, mammals, and fish are also indigenous to America such as buffalo, bison, and wild salmon (Alaska, of course).  Some indigenous recipes included succotash, cornflakes, and baked squash.

Many plants, animals, and spices were introduced by the "Old World" to the "New World" such as pigs, oranges, apples, cattle, grapes, onions, olives, cabbage, lettuce, carrots, watermelon, peas, etc.

Foods originated in the US (sort of):

According to The Food Timeline, "American" foods fall into six different categories (because we're a melting pot, after all!):

Native foods:  "The Three Sisters" plus indigenous nuts, veggies, fish, and animals

Ethnic blends: foods mix when diverse cultures settle into a region: Chop Suey

Hybrid dishes:  Old world recipes (say, from England) that use New World ingredients: cornbread

Regional specialties:  specific tastes or dishes based on region: tex-mex

Manufactured foods:  typically produced in America - moon pies, Kool-Aid, Jell-O, Mac and Cheese....

Generic traditions and food fads:  these can often be traced back to the old world - Chex Mix, corn dogs, Rice Krispie Treats (who knew, right?)

So, there you have it!  I have to admit that we were slightly disappointed to know that the all-American favorite foods at baseball games didn't originate here!


Happy Eating!!


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