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American Regional Cuisine. What Is American Cuisine? . History. “Melting pot” - blending of different ethnic groups to form one culture The United States developed as a nation of immigrants creating a melting pot of ethnic diversity

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american regional cuisine
American Regional Cuisine

What Is American Cuisine?

  • “Melting pot” - blending of different ethnic groups to form one culture
  • The United States developed as a nation of immigrants creating a melting pot of ethnic diversity
  • Between 1820 and 1920 - around 33 million people immigrated to the US

Immigrants came

  • To escape religious or political persecution
  • In search of economic opportunity
  • The New Colossus- Emma Lazarus

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to be free.”

immigrants came
Immigrants came
  • To avoid famine and starvation
  • To find a better life for themselves and their families

Between 1880 and 1924 - two and a half to three million Jewish immigrants came from Eastern and Central Europe

    • They shared a religion but not necessarily their nationality.
    • The Jewish melting pot melded cooking traditions from many different countries, kosher dietary laws, and influences from their new home.

Immigrants prepared the recipes from their homeland, replacing traditional food items with available ingredients.

  • People shared recipes with friends and neighbors, adopted all they liked, and added new recipes, ingredients, flavorings, and cooking techniques.
  • Individuals altered the recipes and the cuisines fused.

Immigrants settled into ethnic neighborhoods

  • They spoke their native language in both homes and businesses.
  • They had easier access to the food products needed to prepare their native dishes.

New York City

  • First settled by the Dutch in 1624 and called New Amsterdam
  • Served as the major embarkation port for European immigrants in the early years

After 1820s - Jewish immigrants came

  • 1840s - Irish came to escape Potato Famine
  • Late 1800s to early 1900s - Italians settled on the east side
  • Asians moved to Chinatown on the east side
  • Puerto Ricans and Africans settled in Harlem


  • Immigrants from foreign countries
  • People moved from rural areas in the Plains and Midwest to trade farming for urban living
  • Drawn to jobs in factories, stockyards, slaughter houses, steel mills, or refineries
  • One of the biggest Polish communities in the United States

San Francisco

  • Gold prospectors from the US and around the world
  • Laborers to work on the railroad
  • Factory workers
  • Workers in agriculture
  • Spanish missionaries

By 1852 - twenty thousand Chinese immigrants lived there

  • Many Japanese and other Asians came because of nearby fertile fields
  • Even living outside the city, they came to Chinatown to purchase food and other goods


  • 1853 - native Hawaiians were 97% of the population
  • 1923 - native Hawaiians made up only 16% of the population

Around 1820, Portuguese began arriving on whaling ships. They worked in

    • Fishing industry
    • Agriculture
    • Dairy farms
    • Ranches

To fill the need for cheap labor for the sugar and pineapple plantations, they brought

    • 46,000 from China
    • 180,000 from Japan
    • 66,000 from the Philippines
    • Many Portuguese and Puerto Ricans


  • Originally, many immigrated from
    • Ireland
    • Italy
    • China
  • Today, African Americans are 25% of the population.


  • Largest Middle Eastern population in the United States
  • African Americans make up 81.6% of the population


  • Capital of the Cuban American and Latin American population in the United States
  • 60% of population is Hispanic

Los Angeles

  • Immigrants came for work in agriculture
  • Many Mexicans crossed the border and settled in Los Angeles
  • Sprawling city - Los Angeles covers more than 465 square miles
indigenous cuisines
Indigenous Cuisines
  • The pre-contact cooking styles of original inhabitants
  • Based on indigenous ingredientsnative to the land (wild or cultivated) and indigenous cooking technology

American examples: wild turkey, corn on the cob, squash, wild rice, cranberries, chilis

old word cuisines
Old Word Cuisines
  • The European cooking styles of America’s earliest settlers while in their former homes
  • Based on Old World ingredients and cooking technology

English examples: roast beef, apple pie.

  • Over time may lead to Regional Cuisine?
history creates cuisine
History Creates Cuisine

Indigenousgroup: the descendants of a land’s original inhabitants

First settlers: the earliest non-indigenous people to arrive in a region

  • Colonistsare sponsored by a nation to settle an unclaimed, unsettled land (English coming to America)
  • Pioneerssettle wilderness areas of their own nation (Virginia to N.Y or Pennsylvania)

Second settlerscome later: often calledimmigrants

hybrid cuisine
Hybrid Cuisine

Positive interaction between indigenous groups and first settlers typically leads to a blending of cuisines: the resulting new coking style is called a hybrid cuisine.

Indian Pudding: British Hasty Pudding (wheat)

using corn meal (Indian flour) To replace scarce

wheat. It was then flavored with molasses or

maple syrup for sweet pudding or drippings of

salted meat for savory.

In time it evolved into a resoundingly sweet dish.

hybrid cuisine1
Hybrid Cuisine
  • Based on indigenous foods and colonial domesticates(Old World foods successfully raised in the new colony)

New England-style cornbread(Old World wheat flour and American cornmeal)

Roast stuffed turkey(Old World wheat bread and American-origin turkey)

understanding regional cuisines
Understanding Regional Cuisines

Aregional cuisine is a unified style of cooking common to most of the people living in a culinary region.

regional cuisines
Regional Cuisines

~ Defined by 3 criteria:

  • Geography
  • Homogenous food culture
  • Defining dishes:That are unique and noteworthy
a defining dish
A Defining Dish
  • Unmistakably represents a particular culinary region
  • Singular enough to be readily distinguished from the dishes of all other regions
  • Examples: Chowder, Boston Baked Beans, Collard Greens

Below: Southern Fried Chicken, a Plantation South defining dish

characteristics of the land
Characteristics of the Land

Land characteristics determine the success of agriculture, the source of most of our food.

SOIL: rich, deep, plentiful, and properly managed soil is conducive to large-scale agriculture

CLIMATE: determines which food plants and animals will grow in a particular area

TOPOGRAPHY: affects climate and the use of farm machinery, and therefore affects agricultural success (grapes)

PROXIMITY to other regions affects the exchange of ingredients and culinary ideas

the food culture of the indigenous people
The Food Culture of the Indigenous People

For most pre-contact Native American cuisines:

Ingredients: Game meats and fish

The Three Sisters(corn, beans, squash)

Cooking Methods: fire technology; stone, skin, earthenware

the food culture of the first settlers
The Food Culture of the First Settlers

The Homeland Cuisine

  • Colonists bring Old World cuisine to the new land
  • Pioneers bring Colonial cuisine to the new land

The Hybrid Cuisine

  • Some first settlers embrace indigenous ingredients and cooking methods, creating a new and vibrant hybrid cooking style.
  • Other first settlers reject most indigenous ingredients and create a cooking style based primarily on colonial domesticates (Old World Foods Successfully Raised in the New World= Transplanted Cuisine)
foods and cooking techniques brought by immigrants
Foods and Cooking Techniques Brought by Immigrants

Ingredients and cooking methods introduced by immigrants are often more exciting and complex than those of the existing regional cuisine.

The culinary impact of immigrants often changes the destiny of a region’s cuisine.

economic viability
Economic Viability

Economic viabilityis the point at which a region can support its own population with the revenues from its goods and services.

The population has moved from subsistence to affluence.

A sizable upper class has disposable income to spend on dining.

  • Home cooks have leisure time to prepare complex dishes.
  • Chefs are paid high salaries to create culinary masterpieces.
  • Diners are experienced and educated, and can afford expensive restaurants.

Economic viability generates travel and trade, which enrich the cuisine with new ingredients and ideas.

foreign cuisines in america
Foreign Cuisines in America
  • Aforeign cuisineis a national or regional cuisine practiced outside its homeland.
  • Remains virtually unchanged, because immigrants are able to obtain authentic ingredients. After about 1970, global trading made ingredients available from other world regions.
  • Examples: Chinatowns in N.Y. and San Francisco, Indian, Thai, Korean.
america s national cuisine
America’s National Cuisine

A national cuisine is a unified style of cooking common to most of a country’s population.

America’s national cuisine emerged in the late 1800s as a result of improved transportation and the emergence of national media.