Sunday, August 10, 2008

American Food, with a side of Michael Phelps!

Last night, we had only Gavin, Molly and I at home so we decided to do American food for our Olympic feast, but we were challenged. The All-American cheeseburger (sans bun, of course) was going to be the centerpiece of this meal, but so many of the foods we associate with America (French Fries, Corn on the Cob, Watermelon, Potato Salad...) are carb heavy and not an option for us as I try to break the 9 lb weight loss plateau, so I struggled .

As I put together a menu that included blue cheese mayo made with Danish Blue cheese and Duke's mayonnaise, the leftover Horiatiki Salata from Greek night, Polish baby dill pickes, I worried that my menu really wasn't representing American food, except for the American cheese on the burgers. But then I realized that this is American food, and America! We take the best of the many ethnic foods that make up our population and incorporate it into our cuisine. Our citizens can preserve their own culinary traditions, or become part of the melting pot of foods and ingredients that makes up our American culinary tradition. It is what makes our country great.

So while we have our own American food traditions like Southern fried chicken, or pulled pork barbecue, pumpkin pie, macaroni and cheese, and corn on the cob (can you tell I am really missing summer corn?), Americans equally enjoy burritos and enchiladas, lasagna and spaghetti, eggrolls, sushi, fondue, and quiche. You might argue that too often American's "bastardize" dishes for the American tastes, but that is part of being a nation of immigrants. Just like our colors begin to meld together, so do our cuisines.

So I don't feel so bad about my ragtag American dinner, but it did bring up another issue for me. Of all the wonderful cheeses there are, why is America known for processed cheese slices? Don't get me wrong, on top of a burger, melted American cheese is something special, and American cheese makes a great grilled cheese, but can you really eat American cheese uncooked? I don't think so! And what foods are there that are distinctly American? Hot Dogs? Burgers? Ribs?
I actually have a book called Street Food that has foods from many cultures and yet the only entries from the US are corn dogs and hush puppies (and the quintessential burger). So I am asking you- What are your favorite foods that are uniquely American? Pull them out and cook them up and share with the rest of us. You can reach me right here, where I will be cheering for the Redeem Team and Michael Phelps!

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