Musement takes a look at typical American food and the dishes that you should try when you’re in the United States.
American gastronomy reflects the melting pot that makes up the United States: a blend of many cultures, the result of hundreds of migratory waves of people from around the world. So when it comes to food, it is no surprise that there is a great variety of options. However, it can be complicated to distinguish what is “real typical food” because of the various influences on the cuisine throughout history. Still, the first thing that comes to mind for most people when thinking of “typical American food” is fast food. Foods such as hamburgers, hot dogs and other not exactly “light” delicacies that traditionally go hand in hand with American culture.
Here’s a look at ten different typical American dishes.
1. Hot dog
An American favorite, seen in countless Hollywood movies. It is impossible to attend a baseball game without a salesman selling these typical sausages with a bun walking among the fans, or without seeing a street vendor serving them as a backdrop for a scene from a romantic comedy. Nowadays, there are many possible combinations of hot dogs: there are those with chili, with cheese, with fried corn bread… although the classic version with ketchup and mustard is still a success.
2. Apple pie
Apple pie, or apple tart, has its origins from England, although the recipe began to be exported to the English colonies since the 16th century, giving this dessert a long history in the United States. There are many variations of this sweet treat, but the classic apple pie consists of a base of puff pastry covered with rolled apples: a very simple but delicious cake. Even better when served hot with a pinch of cinnamon on top, as well as a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The perfect winter dessert.
3. Mac and cheese
Mac and cheese, or macaroni and cheese, is the favorite dish for many American children (and for those looking to cure their hangover). Although it’s often associated with junk food because you can buy the pre-cooked (and processed) version at the supermarket, the homemade version prepared in the oven with real cheese is far more enjoyable.
4. Barbecue ribs(BBQ ribs)
Pork ribs with barbecue sauce are another American classic that many films have been responsible for disseminating. Sticky on the outside and juicy on the inside, barbecue ribs are an ideal delicacy to share with friends or family. Expect to be licking your fingers as you finish, because that sauce that covers them is so addictive.
What can we say about the legendary hamburger? A national symbol, it is much more than just a typical food. Like the hot dog, the hamburger is derived from German cuisine, however, both have become a fundamental part of American gastronomy. Without saying names, the big-name fast-food chains have had an unquestionable role in this, although there are more and more gastropubs serving gourmet hamburgers with high quality meat.
6. Philly cheesesteak
This traditional American sandwich, also known as steak and cheese, has strips of meat and melted cheese inside. As its name indicates, it is originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where Pat Olivieri began to serve it with his brother in the 1930s as a street food, specifically sold in the city’s Italian market. Later, the two brothers opened one of the most famous cheesesteak restaurants called Pat’s King of Steaks.
7. Reuben sandwich
Another iconic American snack is the Reuben sandwich. Traditionally, it is made with pumpernickel or rye bread, to which corned beef (a beef similar to pastrami), Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Russian sauce (a mixture of mayonnaise, ketchup, bell pepper, radish and chives) are added. Although the origins of this sandwich are uncertain, there is no doubt that it has become part of the culinary heritage of the United States.
8. Chicago style pizza
Pizza is another fast food that was quickly adopted by the United States and modified according to American tastes. Among the different varieties of pizza that exist , the Chicago pizza is characterized by being made with a thick bread base that is filled with tomato sauce, cheese and other ingredients, so that it looks more like a salty cake than a pizza, as it’s known in Europe.
Some say that jambalaya is the equivalent of paella in New Orleans. Typical of Cajun cuisine, this spicy dish is made with rice, chicken, ham, prawns and pepper.. Although it was originally a meal prepared with the leftovers of previous meals, jambalaya is an iconic dish from Louisiana today.
10. Sloppy Joe
We finish our tour of typical American cuisine with the Sloppy Joe, a hot sandwich filled with minced meat seasoned with tomato or barbecue sauce. With everything soggy when you eat it, it is common that this meal will cause a mess when you’re finished eating, hence the name sloppy. A variant of this sandwich is the Sloppy Tom, which is made with minced turkey meat.