Saturday, April 21, 2012
Slow Foods Wine Tasting
At one point this guy at our table was asking us about food traditions and culture in the US. This is always a tricky topic...The US doesn't have a "cuisine" like "Italian food" or "French food," or even "German food" (although many people wouldn't call that a "cuisine" either). And it's offensive when people say burgers and fast food are "American" food. That is not food. And aside from not really having a national cuisine, I feel like we don't even have as many regional and seasonal "specialties" as in old Europe. We have some, but not compared to here.
For example, in Germany people get excited about Asparagus season. Really excited. And the cafes all change their soup special according to what's available: in the fall it's pumpkin soup, everywhere, then potato soup and onion soup, in the spring wild ramp soup (Bärlauchcremesuppe) and then asparagus, Spargelsuppe. In this US, is there any one ingredient that is literally celebrated? I can't really think of anything. Sure, we have some regional things: walleye in Minnesota, wild rice, maple syrup. But in the grocery store we can often get things out of season, so you can get them even when they shouldn't really be there. Take asparagus. I bet you've had asparagus in the grocery store, even though it's from Peru or wherever. In Germany, I haven't seen asparagus in the grocery store until this week. For the first time.
smitten kitchen or 101 cookbooks, or other blogs, I feel like there is a generation of people cooking really good, creative, modern food that is healthier and more tied to local/seasonal traditions. So it's hard to respond to the question about "What is 'American' food like?" "Do we have a national cuisine?" What do you think? How would you respond to this question?