Defining American Food in ‘The Saturday Evening Post All-American Cookbook’

Emily Contois

What is American food and what is American food culture? What is American food and what is American food culture?

If you ever want to strike up a passionate food debate, just toss out the the question, “What is American food?” While you’ll hear the unenlightened decree with disdain that the United States has no food culture, the answer is far more nuanced.

Like jazz and blues music, some argue that barbecue is a unique American cultural food product, one that loudly communicates a multiethnic history and both local and regional identity. Others will insist that the food traditions of New England form the culinary roots of American cuisine.[1] Others will point to McDonalds and other fast food joints known for selling burgers and fries as quintessentially American in taste, presentation, and capitalistic expansionism.[2] Still others will argue that the continually simmering melting pot[3] of American citizens ensures that all food served within U.S. borders in…

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