I love food. I love to make food. I love to eat food. I love to read and write about food. So let’s talk about American food!
American food is sort of hard to define, because basically we all came from other countries and brought our foods with us. So you could argue that American food is only slightly modified food from other countries. But I disagree with this point of view. Just like everything else in our country, once something new arrives, if we like it then we kidnap it, brainwash it, and dress it so that its own mother wouldn’t recognize it.
So we have to start with the,
In the past, when people listed the hamburger as classic American food, I wanted to cringe. But lately, after spending some time abroad this past spring, I realized that, yes, a good hamburger is really one of the stars of American cuisine.
Let me emphasize the word, “good,” here. That global restaurant which serves billions (and will also sue me if I mention its name) is not “good.” Any fast food hamburger is a sham, an imposter, a sad and sorry imitation of the real thing.
Let’s start with the ingredients. The burger itself must be made of 100% ground beef. Of course, you can add seasonings, or bits of other things for flavor (cheese, bacon, onions, etc.) but absolutely do not add any meat substitutes!
As for cooking, of course, the meat must be grilled over a flame; both gas or charcoal heat sources are fine. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, fry the meat in a pan! The best burger should be cooked to “medium rare,” so that the meat in the middle is still pink. If you like cheese on your burger, be sure to add it just before the meat is done cooking, so that it melts just a little.
As for the rest of the stuff between the bun, just about anything is possible, within reason. Please do not tell me about sushi on a hamburger (shudder); I don’t want to know! Personally, I prefer the classic: mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, and cheddar cheese. The bread should be a classic hamburger bun; substantial enough to withstand the juicy meat, but soft enough to bite through easily.
Of course, after the hamburger, the most beloved American food is …
We have hundreds of kinds of pies: fruit pies, cream pies, meringue pies… the list goes on and on. You can almost define the regions of the US by the kinds of pies you find in the local restaurants. The making of a good pie crust is an art known only to professional pastry chiefs and grandmothers. (Well, maybe a few of us who aren’t grandmothers can also make a good pie crust, but to be sure, you can’t trust the stuff that they sell at the store.) The crust should be light and flaky but strong enough to hold together when you serve a slice of pie.
My family came from the East Coast, Maine and Massachusetts specifically. The pie stars of our holiday table are pumpkin pie and pecan pie.
Yes, we make a dessert pie from a big, fat squash. The pie filling is made with cooked pumpkin puree, sugar, spices, cream and eggs. I guess it’s actually a kind of custard. It’s really good, and you can eat it for breakfast too, because it has eggs in it. That’s good nutrition, right?
When you eat pecan pie, you know you are having a decadent dessert. It is really sweet. The filling is basically pecans, sugar and eggs. Last year, I added Kentucky Bourbon to the crust and filling. People fought over the last crumbs, it was so good. This year I’m making two and hiding one of them for private consumption.
Do we eat hamburgers and pie every day? No. Most of the time, we eat everyday foods; a bit of chicken, some vegetables, and rice, potatoes, or pasta. But, if I didn’t have a hot, juicy burger or a luscious slice of pie once in a while, I would really miss them.