All too often, American fare is classified as fast food, like burgers and fries or pizza. While these dishes might be favorites, they are certainly not a representation of all that the nation has to offer. Regions like the Southwest, the Pacific Northwest and the American South all offer unique dishes worth exploring.
Southern American Cuisine
In the Deep South of the United States, which includes states like Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi, the food is prepared in a way that reflects the area’s rural farming heritage. For breakfast, you won’t find light items on the menu. Instead, dishes like biscuits and sausage gravy or eggs and grits are designed to provide plenty of fat, protein and carbohydrates for a day of work. Other iconic Southern dishes include fried chicken, greens cooked with ham hock, barbecue and hush puppies.
Seafood in the Pacific Northwest
In coastal areas in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, seafood has long been a staple of the local cuisine. Salmon, for instance, swim upstream in Washington and are readily available for much of the year. Residents are interested in local cuisine and the slow-food movement, which means that much of the produce is grown in the region. Besides the ubiquitous smoked salmon, other popular dishes include that of elk, kale salads, and mussels in white wine broth or tomato sauce.
Southwest Delights and Mexican Influences
One of the most iconic culinary types in American cuisine is Southwestern fare. Influenced by dishes and cultures from Mexico, Spain and the initial pioneers exploring the area, this food has spread to become popular well beyond states like New Mexico and Arizona. Some of the most popular Southwest dishes that you can find in the United States include chili con carne, tacos, burritos, enchiladas, tostadas and stuffed bell peppers. Green chilies are used extensively to give this type of cuisine a unique flavor profile.
Pacific Fusion Hawaiian Fare
Hawaii may be separated from the rest of the country by the Pacific Ocean, but its fare is still a big part of American cuisine. Along with traditional Hawaiian staples, local cuisine is influenced by Polynesian food and Asian favorites. Just some of the dishes that are popular in this part of the country include kalua pig, poi and spam musubi, a type of sushi that is larger than normal and contains a hearty slice of spam as the meat source.
Northeastern New England Cuisine
In the region of New England, located in the Northeast United States, much of the culinary landscape comes from the ingredients and preparation style of the first colonial settlers in the 17th and 18th centuries. Local ingredients like lobster, maple syrup and cranberries are all used widely, and baking is the preferred method of cooking. Some of the most well-known dishes from New England include white clam pizza pie, lobster rolls and crab cakes.