With so many options, I feel that I rarely eat “American” food anymore. But I recently came across an article published by CNN Travel in 2012. The article talks about the “50 Greatest Dishes” from America. While I will not discuss the article’s ranking of best dishes, I will comment on a few dishes they mention. I might even talk about how some may have gotten their origins for another location other than here in America.
Please feel free to refute my comments and educate me about the real origins of these foods or share your own favorite foods from your country.
#50 – Key lime pie: While I am not a big fan of key lime pie, it is one of the few foods that I must admit seems pretty authentically American. The limes are grown in Florida and many people consider pie as American as it gets. But am I mistaken? The American Pie Council states that pie dates back to the Egyptians and actually gets its origins from the Greeks. I guess that also rules out #14 – apple pie then. Who knew?
#43 – Fajitas: I know many Americans reading this will think, “Really? Fajitas aren’t Mexican?” Well, they are and they aren’t. While faja means skirt steak in Spanish, fajita is actually a Tex-Mex dish. Yes, I am sorry to tell you, Tex-Mex is definitely not Mexican, in my book.
Other dishes that do seem to get their origins from right here in the U.S. include:
#38 biscuits ‘n gravy (from the South), #30 – Maryland crab cakes and #29 potato chips (from Saratoga Springs, NY).
There are a few dishes that CNN claim to be American, but that may be disputed:
#33 - Meatloaf: actually gets its origins from the Romans, not the Americans.
#29 – Potato chips: may have come from an Englishman.
#4 – Hot dogs: Great for a baseball game, but really, I’m not sure it competes with German wursts. I do have to say that if you’re ever in Chicago and like sausage, Chicago dogs are worth a try.
Dishes that were brought about by indigenous Americans include: #32 – grits, #26 – peanut butter, #24 – popcorn and #16 barbeque ribs.
#10 – Chocolate-chip cookies: This one my former exchange student would have to list as #1 on her list of favorite American foods, at least when it comes to my mom’s homemade chocolate chip cookies. It’s hard to dispute. They’re pretty darn good!
#2 – Cheeseburger: While the name hamburger suggests German origin (Hamburg), according to the Online Etymology Dictionary, “no certain connection” has ever been made. CNN Travel points out that some Californians like to claim the cheeseburger got its origins there “when a young chef…accidentally burned a burger and slapped on some cheese to cover” his mistake.
#1 – Thanksgiving dinner (or lunch): I love that CNN Travel listed this one at the top. Even though Thanksgiving is also celebrated by Canada, Grenada, Liberia, St. Lucia, and a part of The Netherlands and Australia, many people think if it as an American holiday. What would Thanksgiving be without the traditional turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and please, let’s not forget the gravy or pumpkin pie? While it is fun to think about everyone around the U.S. sitting down around the same time and having a similar meal (even my vegetarian friends bring out the Tofurky), Thanksgiving is more than the food itself and the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians who celebrated together. It is just as much about celebrating traditions, family and gratitude for everything you hold dear in your life. This is why I would have to agree with CNN Travel and rank Thanksgiving as the #1 American food.
Do you have a favorite American food or a Top 5 favorite food list from your country that you would like to share?