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American Cuisine - Page 4

post #46 of 82
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kent Wang
I will list what I can think of off the top of my head:

chicken fried steak

Dipping a pounded steak in milk and flour then frying: exactly how does this go beyond being just another fried food?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kent Wang
okra
black eyed peas
pork chops

Ingredients.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kent Wang
blackened anything

Simply a step above searing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kent Wang
catfish
chitlins
grits
Ingredients again.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kent Wang
fried chicken

Fried.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kent Wang
barbecue

Have we mentioned barbecue before?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kent Wang
cornbread
Ok.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kent Wang
creamed corn
Ha.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kent Wang
rice (Southern cultivars prepared with butter, and sometimes herbs)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kent Wang
green beans with bacon
I have seen this somewhere else before, could it be France?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kent Wang
peach cobbler
Southerners do their minimalistic deserts well.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kent Wang
Only a few of those items are fried, the rest are varied enough to constitute a cuisine of their own.
You do know that black eye peas and okra are simply ingredients? Their preparation in southern cooking really does nothing to declare them as the south's own; both came from Africa and how they are used in the south is short of unique. Okra when not fried is used in stews and such as a thickening agent just as it was in Africa, as it is in Gumbo. Actually out your list the majority of things mentioned are simply ingredients. Your mention of rice "with butter and herbs" is really precious, are you talking about parsley rice, pilau or something other? The amazing thing is that in the US we have access to this virtual cornucopia of ingredients yet has not developed a distinct cuisine; rather just a series of half rendered dishes which have failed to evolve or with exception of barbecue (perhaps).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kent Wang
How many dishes can you name for French Provencal or Tuscan Italian?
You brought these cuisines up not me; so why don't you set forth a list of dishes, it's apparent you are such an informed "foodie""”I look forward to being educated.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kent Wang
Someone else also mentioned creole/Lousiana cuisine which although many of its dishes are French-influenced I agree must be considered a distinct cuisine. Consider gumbo, etouffee, alligator, crawfish, etc.
I will concede that Creole food is the closest to a cuisine of distinction in the US, but even its pride and joy Gumbo is really nothing more than a poor substitute for bouillabaisse.
post #47 of 82
Reminds me of an anecdote from columnist Gene Weingarten:

Quote:
I will say that one delicious moment in years past came when I was part of a journalism fellowship at Harvard some many years ago. One of the fellows was a Mexican American editorial writer from the LA Times, a very smart, nice guy whose had a single annoying habit: He tended to go on and on a bit about his ethnic heritage. Virtually any question was couched in terms of his being a Mexican American.

One day our guest speaker was Julia Child. In the question and answer session, this guy raised his hand and asked a very long, intricate, somewhat pompous question, which I will herein summarize: "It has often been postulated that there are two main, great types of cuisine: Rice-based (Asian), and Wheat-based (European). But might it not be said that there is a third great global cuisine, able to take its place at the table next to the first two, an equal partner, namely, corn-based cuisine, developed by the ancient Mexicans, and serving today still as the diet staple of a hundred million souls in South, and central America, and of course, Mexico, and the American southwest?"

And Julia Child sort of rolled her eyes, and said, "No."
post #48 of 82
So what constitutes a cuisine other than ingredients and preparations? I am tired of aiming at a moving target. You tell me what you define as a cuisine.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Archibald
You brought these cuisines up not me; so why don't you set forth a list of dishes, it's apparent you are such an informed "foodie""”I look forward to being educated.
Obviously my list would be biased to list a small number of dishes. Look, why don't you pick a cuisine and list the reasons why it is a legitimate one?
post #49 of 82
Also, you continue to conflate quality (which is highly subjective) of food with distinctiveness. I pointed this out in my very first post and yet it remains an essential element of your argument. I like Southern food, I'm not in love with it, but either way I am not going to argue with someone about their personal tastes. You can tell me that Southern food sucks, fine, there are plenty of cuisines I dislike as well, like most Southeast Asian food, but that does not mean they are not distinct cuisines.
post #50 of 82
Quote:
While I have only been to Asia on two occasions, it was enough to know that this statement is misinformed to a point of ridiculousness. The average diet in China is far more varied than that of the US.
no it's not. I was born in China, and ever since moving to the states at age 7, I've been subjected to far more different types of food than I ever was before then.
post #51 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kid609
no it's not.

I was born in China, and ever since moving to the states at age 7, I've been subjected to far more different types of food than I ever was before then.


the "average" diet in any poor country, and that is true for china and india, is extremly unvarried - I know a lot of people who eat the same thing day after day without evr thinking of changing.

but archibald is just trying to be a pest here, I was trying to ignore him.
post #52 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by globetrotter
the "average" diet in any poor country, and that is true for china and india, is extremly unvarried - I know a lot of people who eat the same thing day after day without evr thinking of changing.

but archibald is just trying to be a pest here, I was trying to ignore him.

I gave up. One post was enough. It's impossible to argue against incorrect facts and dodgy definitions. Or at least not worth the time. His mind is made up, and that's fine.
post #53 of 82
Thread Starter 
With all due respect Doc and GT"”that sounds like a cop-out. I tried to reasonably address the points made, including specifically soup beans and red eye gravy. Did you even bother to read that Doc? We are all entitled to our opinions but that doesn't mean my mind is entirely made up and I think a healthy debate is good in all circles. Frankly I find some of the points raised to be knee-jerk but not all that unexpected; so I am more than willing to humor their better intentions, even if buried in hubris.

I am considering the points Ken has thoughtfully expressed and in my next post I hope to better explain my cuisine criteria; after giving it a little more deliberation to the comments written in this thread. Comparatively I will try to address the food in the US and the cuisine of Mexico; as I think the striking differences between these two "new world" cultures would provide the clearest view of my position. One point I would like to make now Ken is that I never used the term "quality" in this discussion nor did I ever say that I don't like southern food. In small doses I find it to be delicious despite its limits.

GT, I have not based my assessment of American food on the diets of the poorest of Americans, such as the free processed cheese once (still?) provided by welfare. I hope your opinions on Chinese and Indian cuisine aren't based solely on the diets of those below the poverty line, as that is another sort of inequality better addressed in a forum on politics.
post #54 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by DocHolliday
I gave up. One post was enough. It's impossible to argue against incorrect facts and dodgy definitions. Or at least not worth the time. His mind is made up, and that's fine.

Foie Gras. It's liver. People have eaten liver for thousands of years.
post #55 of 82
And to try and get back on track, as I actually liked this thread, pre-trolling, one of the meals that strikes me as being very American is the large breakfast. I realize that several countries have similar foods, but I've never seen breakfast spreads like you find in the US.

Of particular note to me is the already mentioned magic combination of ham and fresh maple syrup. It's often bastardized, so you rarely find the real thing anymore as many restaurants won't serve real maple syrup due to expense and patrons allergy's.

And really, to me, the ultimate expression of "American Cuisine" is in our "comfort foods". Pot Roast with Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Steak and Baked Potato, Real baked Mac 'n' Cheese, etc. Restaurants like Stanley's in Chicago exemplify this:

http://www.stanleysrestaurant.com/default.asp

Sophisticated? Sometimes, you'd be surprised.
post #56 of 82
I believe the standard English breakfast spread is also quite large, served buffet-style. Really, aside from a few unique dishes the American breakfast is not much different from the English one. Not surprising considering our shared heritage.
post #57 of 82
Many of these American specialities were what slaves ate, which I suppose slightly negates th authenticity. The big Southern plantations however, had some sort of an obsession with the English.
post #58 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kent Wang
I believe the standard English breakfast spread is also quite large, served buffet-style. Really, aside from a few unique dishes the American breakfast is not much different from the English one. Not surprising considering our shared heritage.

Archibald's whole premise seems patently absurd. "Is there 'American' cuisine." America is a nation of immigrants. Even the groups that have been in this country for the longest period of time have been here a mere blip in the larger cultural timeline. Expand the timeline with which you look at invariably any culture and you are going to see that it is in fact a mash of other pre-existing cultures.

The US situation is no different. You can obviously trace nearly every dish or cuisine back to some other culture, but does not mean it is not clearly American in the sense that it has been adopted, altered, and synthesized into our culture. One example I know of is corned beef and cabbage as an "Irish" dish. If I am not mistaken, corned beef is actually a Jewish dish, but given the close proximity that Irish and Jewish communities lived in cities in the US, the two cultures have cross pollinated in a uniquely American way.
post #59 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Archibald
With all due respect Doc and GT"”that sounds like a cop-out. I tried to reasonably address the points made, including specifically soup beans and red eye gravy. Did you even bother to read that Doc? We are all entitled to our opinions but that doesn't mean my mind is entirely made up and I think a healthy debate is good in all circles. Frankly I find some of the points raised to be knee-jerk but not all that unexpected; so I am more than willing to humor their better intentions, even if buried in hubris.

I would love to have a thoughtful discussion of this with you, but you've essentially argued that cuisine cannot be defined by either ingredients or cooking methods. What else is left? How can one hope to argue against that? I too can offer pithy responses, but I'd rather have a substantial debate or no debate at all. Until you are willing to offer some alternative definition of a cuisine, even if I disagree with it, there's no point in having a one-sided discussion.
post #60 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by DocHolliday
I gave up. One post was enough. It's impossible to argue against incorrect facts and dodgy definitions. Or at least not worth the time. His mind is made up, and that's fine.
Doc and Kent are correct. Archibald asks the question but has long decided any answer is inadequate. He's like Humpty-Dumpty: cuisine is whatever he says it is.

Southern food might not be 'cuisine', but give me some chicken fried steak and gravy, okra, cornbread and some blackberry cobbler for dessert, and I'm a happy man. I'll even wash it down with some syrupy sweet tea.
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