From the time the Pilgrim Fathers landed on the rocky shores of the USA and had their first Thanksgiving dinner, immigrants to the country have brought their own recipes and traditions. Here they made do with, and adapted, the ingredients that were available, leading to a cuisine that, in many regions, has become quite unique to the area.
In these pages, it is impossible to give a complete picture of the huge range of culinary delights available and what follows is intended to whet your appetite for further exploration.
The North – New England and New York
New York with its diverse cultural mix offers the most wide-ranging selection of cuisine from every part of the world that one can imagine. A profusion of delicatessens offeris the most tempting dishes of many nationalities including, Jewish, Italian, Russian and Greek.
New England cuisine is based upon the wonderful seafoods found in abundance on the coast while firm favourites are clam chowder, Boston baked beans and lobster thermidor. Many dishes are typified by the use of dairy products and slow cooking methods.
The Gold Rush had one of the biggest influences on food in California and later the rest of the USA. Chinese workers were brought in to work on the mines and railways and it is here that the ubiquitous chop-suey was born.
Today Californian cuisine is a fusion of many exotic influences from a wide variety of immigrant groups. Fare ranges from the simplest take away to the most exclusive restaurants offering dishes from all corners of the world.
Think of the Midwest and immediately cattle ranching springs to mind and this has been a major influence in the cuisine of this region. Food is based on uncomplicated dishes such as pot roasts, sausages, ribs and, of course, the BBQ.
In many parts of the Midwest there are also strong Polish and German influences on the cuisine.
The South – Cajun and Creole Cuisine
Cajun cooking can be found in the area known as the Acadian triangle, ranging from West Texas to the Mississippi and diners can sample delicious typical dishes such as Jambalaya.
Creole, originating from the area in and around Louisiana and the river plantations, offers delights such as delicious gumbo, red beans and rice to name just two among a wide range of choices.
Although there is often an overlap in dishes, the main difference between Cajun and Creole cooking lies in style, Cajun is based on rustic French cooking while Creole is derived from more classic French cuisine.
Texmex is found all over the States but originates in those states closest to the border with Mexico. The dishes to be enjoyed in this style of cooking are enchiladas, burritos and chilli con carne.
Native American cuisine uses corn in many of its dishes and there are delicious offerings such as succotash and pone as well as plank grilled salmon.