With its range of cultures, backgrounds, and immigrants, the USA is a mix of cultural and culinary flavours based on regionalism and diversity. The foods here vary from coast to coast, and even neighbourhood to neighbourhood. The dishes in the south-eastern states have been heavily influenced by African slaves from generations past, including barbecue, fritters, and fried chicken. In Louisiana the French influences of Creole and Cajun reign supreme. The south-western states have been influenced by Mexican cuisine, including beans, corn, chilli, and guacamole, while the west coast has developed fusion cuisine, which takes ingredients from numerous cuisines to create flavourful dishes.
The cheeseburger. Eat it traditionally, gourmet, sliders (mini burgers), Kobe (the Japanese top-range beef), or try it piled high with tomatoes, lettuce, onion, pickles, or mustard (American mustard, that is.) For a variation, add green chillies, nacho cheese, or fried onions. Top with cheese and you have your cheeseburger. The classic American food.
New England Clam Chowder
Originally thought to have been passed along by French fishermen in colonial times, this classic American soup is so much more than just a soup. Thick and aromatic, New England clam chowder has layered flavours atop a meaty foundation. There are, of course, many variations, but the original New England clam chowder is creamy with potatoes and onion and packed with the quahog clam, which gives the chowder a briny kick.
Meatloaf is what it says on the tin—a loaf of meat. A traditional meatloaf is made by mixing a lump of mince with bread crumbs, an egg, onion, a splash of milk, and seasonings like oregano, salt, pepper, and paprika. It is then patted into a bread tin and baked for about an hour. It tastes like a gourmet hamburger, but without the bun.
Chilli con Carne
Chilli con carne is a spicy, stew-like dish popular in the south-western states of the USA. In fact, it is the official dish of Texas. The ingredients generally include some type of meat, thus the Spanish words con carne (with meat), chilli peppers, onions, tomatoes, beans, and spices such as cumin, chilli powder, salt, pepper, and strangely enough, chocolate, which adds a gentle richness to this slow-cooked dish. The chilli is served with soured cream, guacamole, and sometimes rice.
A much revered tradition in the USA, the eating of S’mores evokes childhood vacations and carefree camping. While it takes a lot of work, the reward is enough to make it worth it. Roast a marshmallow over an open campfire, squish it between two graham crackers (similar to a digestive, but not as dense), and add a few squares of chocolate.
While street food is not particularly common in the USA, there is certainly a rising prevalence of food trucks across many metro areas. Street food ranges from tacos to hot dogs, falafel to crème brûlée. Be careful to only order street food from vendors whose food is clean and fresh, as well as cooked right in front of you.
New York Hot Dogs
New York is known as much for its haute cuisine as its street foods, the humble hot dog being chief of these. Various stands are scattered around the city streets, all of which boast the best dogs around. Top yours with ketchup, American mustard, and mayonnaise or even add chilli, cheese, or jalapeños for a mouth-watering kick.
Corn dogs are a tasty twist on the classic hot dog. Invented at a Texas State Fair by an industrious hot dog vendor, a corn dog is basically a hot dog dipped in corn meal and fried.
The Reuben is another New York classic. It is a fully-loaded sandwich made on Rye bread, piled high with corned beef or pastrami, and topped with Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing.
Made famous in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, the Philly Cheesesteak is an amalgamation of steak, onion, and green peppers, all slathered in cheese. The trick to the flavour, apparently, is to find the cheapest, fattiest steak possible in order to get the proper taste.
Deep, thick, saucy, loaded with cheese—the Chicago-Style Pizza is an iconic slice of Chicago. Sold at street vendors, in fast food chains, as well as in restaurants, this is a Midwestern classic.