"You are what you eat." Nutrition experts often use this saying to promote better eating habits. What we put in our mouths does become a part of us. But we can look at this statement another way. What we eat reflects who we are--as people and as a culture. Do you want to understand another culture? Then you ought to find out about its food. Learning about American food can give us a real taste of American culture.
What is "American food"? At first you might think the answer is easy as pie. To many people, American food means hamburgers, hot dogs, fried chicken and pizza. If you have a "sweet tooth," you might even think of apple pie or chocolate chip cookies. It's true that Americans do eat those things. But are those the only kind of vittles you can find in America?
Except for Thanksgiving turkey, it's hard to find a typically "American" food. The United States is a land of immigrants. So Americans eat food from many different countries. When people move to America, they bring their cooking styles with them. That's why you can find almost every kind of ethnic food in America. In some cases, Americans have adopted foods from other countries as favorites. Americans love Italian pizza, Mexican tacos and Chinese egg rolls. But the American version doesn't taste quite like the original!
As with any large country, the U.S.A has several distinct regions. Each region boasts its own special style of food. Visit the South and enjoy country-style cooking. Journey through Louisiana for some spicy Cajun cuisine. Take a trip to New England and sample savory seafood dishes. Travel through the Midwest, "the breadbasket of the nation," for delicious baked goods. Cruise over to the Southwest and try some tasty Tex-Mex treats. Finish your food tour in the Pacific Northwest with some gourmet coffee.
Americans living at a fast pace often just "grab a quick bite." Fast food restaurants offer people on the run everything from fried chicken to fried rice. Microwave dinners and instant foods make cooking at home a snap. Of course, one of the most common quick American meals is a sandwich. If it can fit between two slices of bread, Americans probably make a sandwich out of it. Peanut butter and jelly is an all-time American favorite.
Americans on the go also tend to eat a lot of "junk food." Potato chips, candy bars, soft drinks and other goodies are popular treats. Many people eat too many of these unhealthy snacks. But others opt for more healthy eating habits. Some even go "all natural." They refuse to eat any food prepared with chemicals or additives.
American culture is a good illustration of the saying "you are what you eat." Americans represent a wide range of backgrounds and ways of thinking. The variety of foods enjoyed in the U.S. reflects the diversity of personal tastes. The food may be international or regional. Sometimes it's fast, and sometimes it's not so fast. It might be junk food, or maybe it's natural food. In any case, the style is all-American.
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