American Academy of Gastronomy - East Chapter
The American Academy of Gastronomy was formed in 1999. It came about after a serendipitous meeting with Mr. Rafael Anson, the President of Honour of the AIG, and Dr Sevi Avigdor at a restaurant in Madrid. The time was right, and we were proud to join the AIG for guidance.
The history of our gastronomy goes hand in hand with the ethnicity of our people. In order to fully understand the gastronomy of the United States, you must be aware of the fact that our country differs in ethnicities, cultural development and migration from most other countries that have a more homogeneous ethnicity and culture.
The guiding principle of the American Academy is to improve the knowledge of American cuisine, to maintain our traditional heritage and culture as it pertains to all aspects of our gastronomy.
Since the beginning of our history when the Native Americans met the Pilgrims who arrived from Europe-the ascent of the American gastronomy was marked by the good quality and abundance of our products as well as improvement in culinary techniques.
We are proud of having achieved a prominent place in all aspects of gastronomy on the world stage, be it scientific, literary, or culinary. We are also proud to have been recognized by the international community for having great food, wines, chefs and wonderful restaurants. This year an American restaurant has been named number one on the list of the Top Fifty Restaurants in the World 2017. That restaurant is ELEVEN MADISON PARK in New York City. High quality restaurants can be found from Boston to Miami as well as Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York as well as many other cities and towns across America. After several decades America has joined the ranks of countries that have many Michelin starred restaurants. And finally in October 2016, our American Academy hosted a trip for the members of the AIG. It was a four-day trip to see, taste and experience New York “like a New Yorker.” We do hope to host more trips in other cities in the future.
American Academy of Gastronomy - West Chapter
The Evolution of the Cuisine and Gastronomy of the United States of America
(by Rose Anastasio, Marianne Avigdor and Patricia Devine)
Sitting around a table and “breaking bread' with friends and family is an activity enjoyed by people of all cultures and America is no exception. It is often the best way to exchange ideas and get to know people as we sit and enjoy good food and share our stories. The foods that we eat often reflects where we have come from, the influences in our lives and what we hope to become.
Often when we think of American gastronomy what quickly comes to mind is hamburgers-hot dogs and Coca-Cola. While these things are indeed enjoyed by Americans the story does not end here. The United States is a “nation of immigrants” enjoying great cultural diversity. In this piece we hope to illustrate how American gastronomy could be considered one of the original “fusion” cuisines as each immigrant culture has added its own special touch and flavours to our American products. We also hope to show how American gastronomy has evolved and become “world class” during the course of its short history.
Our discussion of American gastronomy must begin with the first Native American Indians. They were the ones-who through their agriculture domesticated many of the native plants such as corn, yams and cocoa. They also domesticated wild animals and fished for their food which was abundant. The early settlers to American leamed a lot from the Indians and probably taught them a thing or two as well.
Cooking in the early days of America was quite primitive but necessary for survival.
When the Pilgrims arrived in America in 1620, they came upon Native American burial grounds and found provisions that were set upon their graves. Fearing they would starve, the Pilgrims took these provisions, consisting mainly of maize and beans. It is said they intended to pay for them in the future. And so began the tradition of planting seeds of corn, beans, onions and spinach as well as cabbage and peas. This was the foundation of the first American gardens which was influenced by both Indian and English cultures. They also hunted and fished for their food, tilled their fields, grew vegetables, slaughtered their livestock, sowed their wheat and reaped their harvest. It is said that this was apparent during the Thanksgiving celebration between the newly arrived Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians. They feasted on meat, corn mush sweetened with molasses, blueberries and of course cranberries. Seafood also accompanied the meal as did pumpkin and other squashes. This was indigenous to the New England area. There was a hand to mouth relationship with food and it became the way of life for all Colonial Americans. Abundance was a solid foundation of this early American cooking. Colonial America extended into the West Indies where sugar was the dominant crop. As a result, it became a melting pot of cultures. In addition to Native Americans there were African slaves. By the mid 1700s rice crops were growing in the swampy lands of the Carolinas largely due to the slaves from the West Indies.
So began regional cooking throughout the new America. The New England area primarily used English herbs such as marjoram, sage and thyme. TL English garden ensured an abundance of fresh vegetables. Fish was abundant as was pig, calf and duck. In the deep south, African, Middle Eastern and Caribbean spices were incorporated into dishes such as stews We will discuss American regional cooking more in depth later on.
Americans even at this time also loved to drink. At first, they drank beer and cider, a necessity when water was tainted. By the end of the 17th century, farms began special productions of alcohol. As a result, taverns emerged.
The colonists began trading with other regions. They traded beer for bread from Philadelphia, beef from New England, okra and rice from the Carolinas and ham from Virginia. This melding together of food and cultures is the foundation of the American Culinary experience.
The Melting Pot - Influence of Immigration in the 19th and early 20ieth Centuries on American Cuisine
The United States experienced major waves of immigration during the colonial era, the first part of the 19th century and from the 1880s to 1920. With hope for a brighter future, nearly 12 million immigrants arrived in the United States between 1870 and 1900. Over 14 million arrived from 1901 to 1920. The peak year for admission of new immigrants was 1907, when approximately 1. 3 million people entered the country legally. The vast majority of these people were from Europe, especially Germany, Ireland, Italy and England.
The cuisine of the United States reflects this history. The ingredients and cooking styles introduced during European colonization of the Americas continued expanding well into the 19th and 20th centuries, proportional to the influx of immigrants from many different nations; such influx developed a rich diversity in food preparation throughout the country.
Bringing their food preferences and eating customs with them to the United States allowed immigrant groups to maintain a sense of identity and cohesion. What Americans think of as “their” food is an amalgam of numerous culinary traditions. Particular foodstuffs, recipes, methods of preparation, and styles of presentation have been contributed to the mixture by dozens of ethnic groups, but few of the “ways” survived intact. Interactions with a new environment and with an alien and often hostile culture produced a synthesis of old and new, a synthesis that changed as one generation replaced another.
While the Irish had been immigrating to America since colonial times, between 1820 and 1930, some 4. 5 million Irish migrated to the United States. In the 1840s, almost half of America's immigrants were from Ireland. The largest waves of immigrants came in the 1850s during the massive Irish Potato Famine when blight destroyed their principal food crop. Typically impoverished, these Irish immigrants settled near their point of arrival in cities along the East Coast.
Although they too spoke English and were assimilated relatively quickly, these immigrants brought a cuisine less elaborate than that of the English. Alcohol played an important role in Irish culture, and, for Irish males at least, taverns fulfilled many of the same social purposes that eating establishments played among other groups.
Once they settled in the United States, the Irish imported and adapted their cuisine, genres of music, religious traditions and a new style of political organizing, among many other traditions. They adapted to the foods available in America. A case in point is the Irish American dish of corned beef and cabbage. In Ireland, the Irish frequently ate boiled pork products, ham, salt pork or bacon, with cabbage and potatoes. Once they arrived in America, however, they found pork was more expensive than beef, so they replaced pork with corned beef. The dish was often eaten in establishments that are now essential to America's restaurant landscape, the Irish pub.
Germans were the most numerous ethnic group migrating to the United States during the nineteenth century when the United States received some 5 million German immigrants. Many of them journeyed to the present-day Midwest to buy farms where they grew their own food and raised dairy cattle. They also congregated in such mid-western cities as Milwaukee, St. Louis and Cincinnati. In the national census of 2000, more Americans claimed German ancestry than any other group.
German Americans cooked potato dishes and introduced such foods as sauerkraut and frankfurters (hot dogs). Those who settled in the nation's growing towns and cities often opened delicatessens, which have since become a fixture of urban American life. Bakeries and breweries were important, as was the consumption of beer in communal settings such as beer gardens. A typical link with the home country was Oktoberfest, a beer festival originally held in Munich but copied in German communities around the world. Poles and other eastern Europeans brought food ways that resembled those of the Germans, preferring sauerkraut, noodle dishes, and pierogi (dumplings filled with potatoes, cheese, and cabbage).
Today, these summer staples are cooked on an outdoor drill, placed in a toasted bun and covered with a variety of topping such as mustard, ketchup, sauerkraut, relish, cheese, chopped onion and / or chili. Illustrating the interplay of various ethnic and religious groups on food in America, In June of 2017, the New York Times rated Hebrew National Kosher Beef Franks as one of the best.
Most Italians immigrated to the United States during the decades immediately before and after the beginning of the twentieth century, living and working in cities. In the 1890s alone, some 600, 000 Italians migrated to America, and by 1920 more than 4 million had entered the United States. Many were men who saved their pay, lived penuriously, and eventually returned home, where they shared stories of America's abundance. The trend in the US toward Italian food started as these Italian immigrants began to make their homes in America. The waves of immigrants from Italy continued passing through Ellis Island, traveling further west, yet holding on to their cultural identity through their cooking.
The United States offered an abundant food landscape to late-19th-century immigrants in comparison with that available in their homelands. Foods that were previously accessible only to wealthy landowners in Italy, like pasta and olive oil, became staples of the Italian American pantry. Most Italian immigrants were able to eat much better in the United States than they had at home, purchasing imported cheese and pasta and adding meat, fish, and fresh vegetables. Meat, a treat that Italian peasants might enjoy on an annual basis, was eaten weekly or even daily in the United States. Abundant family meals, once relegated to feast days, became weekly Sunday dinners in the homes of urban Italians and Italian Americans. As Italian immigrants were thus able to imitate the eating habits of their native country's tiny upper class, food played a prominent role in their culture.
Thanks to enterprising immigrant restaurateurs, a distinctive Italian American cuisine soon arose. Authentic Italian pizza had begun as a flat piece of bread sprinkled with salt and flavoured with a little oil, but the more elaborate product familiar to most Americans originated in the Little Italy district of New York City at the beginning of the twentieth century. Many other foods served in “Italian” restaurants were scarcely Italian but became popular, nevertheless.
One of the earliest dishes attributed to an Italian, and still extremely popular today, is Chicken Tetrazzini. It was created in the early 1900s in honour of Luisa Tetrazzini, the operatic soprano known as The Florentine Nightingale. The famous muffuletta sandwich of New Orleans, named after the muffuletta rolls baked in Sicily, was created in 1906 for Sicilian workers. The ever-popular Philly cheese steak was invented by an Italian, and the specialty fish stew of San Francisco, cioppino, originated from the Italian fish stew cioppino, made by the Genoese fishermen who settled there.
During the mid-1800s, a significant number of Asian immigrants settled in the United States. Lured by news of the California gold rush, some 25, 000 Chinese had migrated there by the early 1850s.
Due to growing anti-Chinese prejudice and the desire of Chinese immigrants themselves to maintain their cultural identity, Chinese immigrants in nineteenth century California lived in myriad Chinatowns, neighbourhoods in which they opened their own groceries and restaurants. They continued to consume traditional foods, leading to the importation of millions of tons of rice. Stir-fried dishes were preferred as a means of saving fuel, and most ate with the traditional Chinese utensils, chopsticks. Because most Chinese, like most peoples of Asian origin, are lactose intolerant, they did not eat dairy products.
Chinese Americans developed a new cuisine for non-Chinese diners. Inexpensive dishes such as chow mien were created by immigrant Chinese cooks, but despite, or perhaps because of, their inauthentic nature, they proved to be popular with non-Chinese diners. At the same time, many Chinese restaurants continued to supply authentic dishes to their ethnic customers. What Americans think of as the traditional conclusion to a Chinese meal, the fortune cookie, is said to have been invented in Los Angeles by an immigrant named David Jung, the founder of the Hong Kong Noodle Company, during the second decade of the twentieth century.
The European Jews
Jews fleeing religious persecution also arrived in large numbers in the late 1800s and early 1900s; over 2 million entered the United States between 1880 and 1920. Many Jews settling in the United States were central or eastern European, and their food ways drew upon national traditions as well as Jewish religious tenets. Because Orthodox Jews observe strict dietary laws, avoiding pork for example, most Jewish immigrants settled where religiously sanctioned kosher foods were available. Thus, Jewish marketplaces became the culinary and cultural centres of Jewish communities, offering fruits and vegetables, fish, and the meat of animals slaughtered according to religious law. The women of the house prepared deboned fish with egg, onion, and flour, called gefilte fish, served on Sunday mornings.
Large-scale Greek immigration to the United States began in 1880, with the largest numbers immigrating during the early twentieth century. Between 1900 and 1920, more than 350, 000 Greeks immigrated to the United States. About 95 percent of the immigrants who came between 1899 and 1910 were men. Initially, most of these Greek men expected to work, save their money, and return home. They often lived in boarding-houses with other Greek men, eating communal meals of familiar food, a pattern shared by Romanians and Basque-speaking immigrants from Spain. Typical dishes involved grains, spiced meats, and fresh vegetables cooked in olive oil. After the first decade of the twentieth century, the pattern of Greek immigration came to include entire families intent on remaining in the United States. The lives of Greek immigrants revolved around Eastern Orthodox churches, which began staging public food festivals as a means of raising money while allowing their members to celebrate their heritage. These festivals, which continue today, also attracted other Eastern Orthodox immigrants such as Serbs.
Newly arrived immigrants sought social places that connected them to their homeland through food. Bringing their cultures with them, the increasing immigrant populations in urban areas greatly influenced American cuisine, which was experiencing a time of great transformation. The below facts illustrate how America became a melting pot for tastes and flavours by the start of the 20th century:
In the beginning of the 19th century, street food vendors consisted mainly of poor women selling a single item. As ethnic diversity increased throughout the decades, vendor options became much more diverse. German vendors offered pretzels and sausages; Chinese salesmen provided rock candy; Italian peddlers hawked fruits and vegetables and Mexican immigrants sold tamales, San Francisco's most famous street food by the 1880s.
Sandwiches and spaghetti (Italian); egg creams (Jewish); nachos and chili (Tex-Mex); and hamburger, sausages, pickles, and the lager beer (German) were all introduced into the American diet by urban immigrants in the 19th century.
Many of us fondly remember delicious meals at the tables of our immigrant grandparents. But when we return to the towns of their birth, we are surprised. For the food there has evolved and the food our grandparents served had become, like them, American.
As was mentioned previously, with the large immigration to the U. S. in the late 19th and 20th centuries, people from many different parts of the world came and incorporated their particular ethnic flavours into American cuisine. As they moved to different parts of the country, regional cuisine also developed. The immigrants used their own flavours along with the things that were abundant in the particular area where they settled.
For example, the Northeast or New England area is known for its lobster, clams and oysters. And so, this area claims as its own the delicious lobster roll, oyster stew and the iconic New England clam chowder.
Before we leave New England, we must mention that Thanksgiving, the holiday unique to the U. S. was first celebrated in New England by the Indians and Pilgrims. A traditional Thanksgiving meal would include turkey-cranberries, various vegetables and pumpkin pie. This beloved holiday is enjoyed from “sea to shining sea” every year on the fourth Thursday of November.
The Mid-Atlantic very often was the common port of entry for many of the immigrants, specifically New York. Because of this you can find almost any type of ethnic cuisine there.
Many Swiss and Germans settled in an area of Pennsylvania. They came to be known as Pennsylvania Dutch. Some of their well-known dishes are chicken or beef pot pie, scrapple and apple dumplings.
In the cuisine of the South, we find influences from African, English, Irish, Scottish, French and Native Americans.
Pork and pork products were an important ingredient in Southern cooking, as well as seafood-and corn. Some of the delicious Southern specialities are grits, country ham, and barbecue ribs.
Soul food started in the South and is made up of classic African American dishes whose roots can be traced back to the slave trade. Classic soul food is chitterlings (pig intestines), collard greens and black-eyed peas. Southerners eat black-eyed peas on New Year's Day to bring them good luck in the coming year.
South-western cuisine or Tex-Mex draws it influence largely from Mexico. Consequently, South-western cuisine is much like that of Mexico. Examples are nachos-Texas style chili and Chimichangas.
The Midwest which is sometimes called “America's Heartland” is where there is a great deal of natural resources, farming and industry. When we think of the Midwest what comes to mind is small towns and farm areas as opposed to frenetic urban areas. Large groups of Germans, Irish, Polish and Scandinavians migrated there. Life revolved around the family and their community. Casseroles or one dish meals were created to feed large groups of people.
Due to its natural resources and fertile soil the products that we get from the Midwest are wheat and corn-fruits and vegetables. They also raise hogs and dairy cows. Because the area is rich with lakes and rivers, there are also plenty of fisheries. Some typical Midwestern dishes are Wisconsin Fish Boil, Lefse (Scandinavian tonilla) and South Dakota Peach Kuchen.
And finally, we come to the West and what is known as the Pacific Northwest. When we talk about the West or the West Coast what immediately comes to mind is California. California cuisine is a perfect example of “fusion cuisine. “ This area of the U. S. has some of the most fertile farmland, producing some of the best fruits and vegetables as well as vineyards that produce world class wines. Alice Waters of Chez Panisse revolutionized California cooking by insisting on using only the freshest, local ingredients. Today the cuisine of California is all about using fresh local ingredients, different cooking techniques and flavours influenced by the various groups that settled there. Asian, Mexican and Italian cultures have heavily influenced California cuisine. Examples of this are the cioppino, seafood stew created by the Italian immigrants, the California roll, a fusion of American and Japanese flavours and ingredients, and the Mission style burrito.
The Pacific Northwest specifically the coastal region is best known for its seafood, salmon and Dungeness crab. The inland areas are abundant in game, such as moose, caribou and elk.
Immigration to this area was by Scandinavians, Chinese, French Canadians, and others, such as the Germans, who came from other parts of the U.S. Some important produce from this area is: Rainier cherries, Marionberries, chanterelles, apples and hazelnuts. Examples of dishes from this area are potato latkes with salmon roe, sour cream and chives, teriyaki salmon and stews of the various abundant game.
New American Cuisine
The term “new American” cuisine came into popular usage some time in the 80's. Essentially it is a cuisine that is ingredient driven. The “new American” chef s are committed to using only the freshest of ingredients obtained from local sources. But they use foreign techniques borrowed from, Europe, Asia and even molecular cuisine as well as adding their own creative touch.
New American cuisine can be found in restaurants all over the U. S. introduced by rising young chefs again taking their inspiration from seasonal local ingredients. If you were dining in a New American you might find on the menu such things as: Grilled New York Trout with Romesco and Haricot Vert, Kale and Quinoa salad, or Hanger Steak served with Kimchi Fried Rice and Farm Egg.
The United States of America is a young country and so our cuisine reflects our journey in trying to establish our place among the nations of the world. For this reason, we can say that American cuisine is forever evolving.
New England Clam Chowder
- 38-ounce bottles clam juice
- 1 pound russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
- 3 slices bacon. finely chopped
- 2 cups chopped onions
- 1 1/4 cups chopped celery with leaves (about 2 large stalks)
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 66 1/2-ounce cans chopped clams, drained, juices reserved
- 1 1/4 cups half and half
- 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
- Bring bottled clam juice and potatoes to boil in heavy large saucepan over high heat, Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until bacon begins to brown, about 8 minutes.
- Add onions, celery, garlic and bay leaf and sauté until vegetables soften, about 6 minutes. Stir in flour and cook 2 minutes (do not allow flour to brown).
- Gradually whisk in reserved juices from clams.
- Add potato mixture, clams, half and half and hot pepper sauce. Simmer chowder 5 minutes to blend flavours, stirring frequently.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead- Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and keep refrigerated. Bring to simmer before serving.)