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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » What Counts as USA Ethnic Food? (Page 1)

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Author Topic: What Counts as USA Ethnic Food?
Mucus
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Thought this was a pretty interesting piece
quote:
Mitchel Stein sent in a video a woman took of the “USA” section of the ethnic food aisle in a German grocery store. It’s an interesting look at what types of foods/brands are associated (at least in this store) with the U.S.:
http://contexts.org/socimages/2010/06/18/what-counts-as-u-s-a-ethnic-food/

I have sought out foreign takes on Chinese food (ex: fried ice cream in Rome) or Chinese-adapted fast food (ex: McDonalds or KFC in China), but I've never really thought about foreign takes on North American food.

(Although on second thought, I guess that is what the Cha chaan teng is.)

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Jhai
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In the very tiny American section in the grocery store I used to go to in Germany (in a village of about 7,000 people), the main items that I can remember were peanut butter, a few Kellogg's brand cold cereals, and tortillas.

The Korean superstore near my house has an American ethnic food aisle, which I must admit I've never been down. The two Indian/Pakistani aisles are unbeatable, though - no Indian market in the area comes even close to the selection or prices.

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Bella Bee
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Marks and Spencers, Waitrose, Tesco and other UK supermakets do 'American' ready meals like quesadillas, enchiladas, fajitas and chilli (they usually have the aisles divided up into nationalities like Italian = pasta/pizza, Indian = curry/samosas, etc).
Technically, I guess meals like that should count as North American, but they usually put something like 'Texas' on the box, with a US flag decoration.

There was great excitement about two years ago, when they finally (finally!) started selling Oreos in Britain. And muffins still often have the word 'American' on the label. Also Banoffee or Key Lime pies sometimes might have a few stars and stripes on the box.

Apart from that, I can't think of anything particularly branded as USian.

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Blayne Bradley
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American I imagine would be African American "Soulfood", Native American foods, Mexican/Latin American foods, and then "crap".
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BlackBlade
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Don't knock the bacon cheeseburger with cheddar cheese. It's a glorious thing.
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TomDavidson
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Intrinsically American food: bacon cheeseburgers, chili, cheesesteak sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, crawfish po' boys, deep-fried cheese curds, Chicago-style hot dogs, deep dish pizza, fajitas, gumbo, slow-cooked barbecue brisket (or shredded pork), barbecue chicken and avocado thin-crust pizza, apple pie, jello (topped with whipped cream), peanut butter, blueberry muffins, New England clam bakes, bagels with cream cheese, and clam chowder.
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Nighthawk
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Considering that I've been to numerous places where they have rice in the "ethnic" section, who are we to judge? [Razz]
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by Nighthawk:
Considering that I've been to numerous places where they have rice in the "ethnic" section, who are we to judge? [Razz]

We used to grow tons of rice in the South.

[ June 18, 2010, 10:17 PM: Message edited by: BlackBlade ]

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Blayne Bradley
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
Intrinsically American food: bacon cheeseburgers, chili, cheesesteak sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, crawfish po' boys, deep-fried cheese curds, Chicago-style hot dogs, deep dish pizza, fajitas, gumbo, slow-cooked barbecue brisket (or shredded pork), barbecue chicken and avocado thin-crust pizza, apple pie, jello (topped with whipped cream), peanut butter, blueberry muffins, New England clam bakes, bagels with cream cheese, and clam chowder.

Wa wa wa...? I think your confusing something else with Kraft Dinner which is distinctly Canadian.
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SenojRetep
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The two things I remember buying at the American store in Enschede (Netherlands) were Root Beer and Brownie mix.
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TomDavidson
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Yeah, root beer is absolutely an American drink.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Bella Bee:
Also Banoffee or Key Lime pies sometimes might have a few stars and stripes on the box.

Wait, what? Americans don't even know what banoffee pie IS, usually.
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Uprooted
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
deep-fried cheese curds

I had to google this. I think it's good that I don't live in the Midwest. Because those sound good to me.
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
Yeah, root beer is absolutely an American drink.

For that matter so are Coke and Dr. Pepper.

I think breakfast cereals are certainly American as well. Not counting cream of wheat or oatmeal of course.

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
Yeah, root beer is absolutely an American drink.

For that matter so are Coke and Dr. Pepper.

Coke is known and drunk around the globe. Root Beer is uniquely American, for the most part.
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
Yeah, root beer is absolutely an American drink.

For that matter so are Coke and Dr. Pepper.

Coke is known and drunk around the globe. Root Beer is uniquely American, for the most part.
So once a food finds acceptance outside of one ethnic group it can no longer be considered an ethnic food? Sarsaparilla is very similar to Root Beer and it's drunk in South East Asia quite extensively.
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TomDavidson
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I thought of another one: corn on the cob.
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Lyrhawn
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I saw a documentary once that said America drinks something like 80% of the world's iced tea.
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Ecthalion
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i would have to say that pretty much anything barbecue is US American.
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maui babe
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
quote:
Originally posted by Bella Bee:
Also Banoffee or Key Lime pies sometimes might have a few stars and stripes on the box.

Wait, what? Americans don't even know what banoffee pie IS, usually.
Yeah, I had to google it, and it's most definitely not American. It was invented in Sussex.
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Jhai
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
So once a food finds acceptance outside of one ethnic group it can no longer be considered an ethnic food? Sarsaparilla is very similar to Root Beer and it's drunk in South East Asia quite extensively.

America exports its culture very, very well. Jeans and tshirts are the ultimate example of this, and coke is a good example as well. Personally, I think coke should be counted as an American ethnic drink, but I think the point here is to find American food items that the rest of the world thinks it's weird to consume. Crocs and cowboy hats in the clothing category would be similar - jeans and tshirts wouldn't.
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by Jhai:
quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
So once a food finds acceptance outside of one ethnic group it can no longer be considered an ethnic food? Sarsaparilla is very similar to Root Beer and it's drunk in South East Asia quite extensively.

America exports its culture very, very well. Jeans and tshirts are the ultimate example of this, and coke is a good example as well. Personally, I think coke should be counted as an American ethnic drink, but I think the point here is to find American food items that the rest of the world thinks it's weird to consume. Crocs and cowboy hats in the clothing category would be similar - jeans and tshirts wouldn't.
Ah, I see.

Well then I submit caramel covered apples for consideration.

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Dan_Frank
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Yeah we need to be clear here: The OP is about foods that are in the USA Ethnic section in other countries. There's a big difference between that and foods which are actually American in origin, but were exported back to other cultures to an extent where that culture doesn't give America credit for them.

The former I know basically nothing about, being an uncultured rube who's barely ever been out of the US and never out of North America. It's an interesting question though, because it speaks to the perception of American cuisine rather than the reality.

But the latter... oh man. Tom's excellent post barely even scratches the surface.

People who say America has very little significant cuisine or culinary inventions are woefully ignorant of culinary history. It's... it's kind of a huge pet peeve of mine.

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BlackBlade
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Dan: Just how huge is that pet peeve? [Smile]
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Drifter
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I think of typical American food as: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, the very sugary cereals, maple syrup with everything, burgers, Dr Pepper, root beer, soda, oreos, corn dogs and that sort of thing. Clam chowder not so much as American but a Southern thing.

But Banoffee Pie, macaroni cheese and corn on the cob, sorry, in my perception, they are English. If your Jello is what I would call Jelly (a sweet dessert made from a gelatin base), then that's English too
And I never associate BBQ with America. It's Australian [Smile]

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BlackBlade
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Drifter:
quote:
Clam chowder not so much as American but a Southern thing.
'Scuse me, but clam chowder belongs to New England.
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Bella Bee
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quote:
Originally posted by maui babe:
quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
quote:
Originally posted by Bella Bee:
Also Banoffee or Key Lime pies sometimes might have a few stars and stripes on the box.

Wait, what? Americans don't even know what banoffee pie IS, usually.
Yeah, I had to google it, and it's most definitely not American. It was invented in Sussex.
Yes, but the bizarre thing is that none of the shops know that. Because it's pie, they think it's American.
Has anyone mentioned Apple Pie yet? That's technically English too, but it's often sold as American in the UK.

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Drifter
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
Drifter:
quote:
Clam chowder not so much as American but a Southern thing.
'Scuse me, but clam chowder belongs to New England.
I'm sure it does [Smile] But halfway round the world from you? Nah. We associate it with the South and I have no idea why. It's interesting in it's own right that we perceive 'Southern Food' as not American *shrugs* again I have no idea why.

I'm adding fried chicken, popcorn,corn bread, pumpkin pie and black eyed peas to my list of American food.

I have international visitors to stay regularly . They are usually late teens to early twenties. When asked to, most of my guests can cook something that identifies as their country of origin. But with my American visitors the conversation goes something like this:
'Oh I don't know what to cook, we just eat normal food'
me: 'like this? ( indicating their plate)
them: 'no, we don't eat foreign food'
me: 'so what do you eat?'
them: 'you know normal stuff'
[Roll Eyes]
The first time I wrote it off as an immature teen, but having had many similar conversations now, I have to wonder what you guys eat?
I wonder if you don't identify foods as American yourselves but call them TexMex or Southern style or Italian or whatever. Even though you have your own take on the cuisine, and as pointed out earlier, invented and exported such things as Chinese fortune cookies

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Lyrhawn
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I think that's part of the culinary taxonomy of American food. No one says "hey, let's go get some American food," and when they want something like that's it's usually a burger and fries, or a hot dog or the like. It's funny to think that American-style Italian or Chinese is nothing like the original, and it thus really more American than not.

We probably eat more pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies and pumpkin ice cream in my house than we do pumpkin pie, though I love them all. I'm a big fan of the squash family.

Also, how does England get corn on the cob? Corn is from the Americas!

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Drifter
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
Also, how does England get corn on the cob? Corn is from the Americas!

I know! Weird aye. But when we are talking about food it somehow comes up as English. Possibly because we are in awe of the English who can eat corn off the cob with a knife and fork without getting it everywhere! Personally I have to pick it up to eat it [Smile]
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AchillesHeel
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quote:
Originally posted by Drifter:
quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
Also, how does England get corn on the cob? Corn is from the Americas!

I know! Weird aye. But when we are talking about food it somehow comes up as English. Possibly because we are in awe of the English who can eat corn off the cob with a knife and fork without getting it everywhere! Personally I have to pick it up to eat it [Smile]
As a lifetime resident of a landmass filled with corn, believe me when I say that corn on the cob is to be eaten with your hands only. You may as well throw your hotdog and fries in the blender with some mashed potatoes so you can eat it with a spoon.
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scholarette
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Drifter- the bbq style is different from place to place (so says the Texan).
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Hank
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What about choclate chips cookies?

If someone asked me to prepare them a dinner I thought of as typically American, I'd probably make pulled pork, french fries, and iceberg salad with ranch dressing and chocolate chips cookies for dessert. Ooh--and chocolate milk to drink, since I don't care for soda.

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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by scholarette:
Drifter- the bbq style is different from place to place (so says the Texan).

This is very true. Last time I was down south I wanted some BBQ, and was given a 20 minute lecture by the server in the restaurant I was in about the difference between southern BBQ and northern BBQ (not that "northern BBQ was said with a derisive, dismissive tone of voice, and you know what, she was right).
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DDDaysh
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When I think of American food I think of the types of food one of my grandmothers frequently cooked. (The other one deep fried EVERYTHING that wasn't microwaveable, so she doesn't really count). Anyway, that generally consisted of some form of beef, either steak or roast usually, some form of vegetable, usually green beans, boxed macaroni and cheese, and packaged bread. Oh, and lets not forget the Bluebell Ice Cream for desert!
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Epictetus
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I would like to add Bourbon to the list of Ethnic American contributions...not that you're likely to find it in the grocery store, but it is something that must meet very particular standards to be labeled as Bourbon.

If someone asked me to make an American dish, I'd go with Cajun food, like Jumbalaya or Shrimp Etoufee served with Cornbread.

Let's see, other things I think of as American:
Cobbler
Pastrami Sandwiches (though that's arguable)
Nachos
Hot Dogs (not the tasty kinds of the German and Polish variety, but the flavorless, rubbery Oscar Meyer frank)
Any form of Casserole
Chicken Noodle Soup

And I'm sure there's others. The problem I have is that American cuisine is so heavily influenced by other cultures that it's hard to think of it as ethnic. American Chinese food is what usually think of as ethnic food even though it bears little to no resemblance to real Chinese food. And I could say the same thing about Mexican food, Mongolian Barbecues, and even most Italian restaurants. So I think that even what we consider to be ethnic foods could be considered American cuisine.

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aspectre
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During the PotatoFamine, the Irish were fed imported corn so that Irish grains could be fed to the more valued English livestock. And a million-plus folks died of starvation because they didn't know how to prepare corn to maximize its nutritional value or how to supplement it for a complete healthy diet. So corn had a VERY bad reputation in Northern-thru-Central Europe as food unfit for human consumption up until the AmericanOccupation after WWII.
I think the Italians and the Spaniards knew how to make cornmeal nutritious before then.

Edit In: Sorry about the quadruple post, kept getting a "waiting for response" message that lasted long enough that I'd hit STOP. Then repost later from the same window.
Same thing is still happening out of EditPost. Anybody else having the problem of not being forwarded?

[ June 19, 2010, 02:36 PM: Message edited by: aspectre ]

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rollainm
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Mmm...clam chowder...

And now I can't get that SNL skit out of my head.

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Carrie
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quote:
Originally posted by Uprooted:
quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
deep-fried cheese curds

I had to google this. I think it's good that I don't live in the Midwest. Because those sound good to me.
They are good. They are very, very good. A friend of mine went to Wisconsin last month and told me he was glad he didn't live there, because he'd become a 900-pound behemoth from the cheese curds alone.

Personally, I prefer them plain and un-fried. Nice cold, squeaky cheese curds are a fantastic snack. [Smile]

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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
It's an interesting question though, because it speaks to the perception of American cuisine rather than the reality.

I thought so, because I usually come at it from the other angle, wandering past the Walmart or Food Basics "ethnic foods" aisle and gawking at the stuff.

quote:
Originally posted by Drifter:
And I never associate BBQ with America. It's Australian [Smile]

This part of the thread reminds me of this funny routine which uses BBQ as a marker of "becoming Canadian."
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Mucus
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Oh, another fun piece. I see a lot of fun Chinglish, but here's an example of fun Zhonglish.

Zhonglish: a high-impact ride?

"Those who are not pregnant should ride a horse."

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Drifter
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quote:
Originally posted by Epictetus:
I would like to add Bourbon to the list of Ethnic American contributions...

:)Definitely
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Bella Bee
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quote:
"Those who are not pregnant should ride a horse."
The Spanish one seems to be saying that no person with a back should ride a horse. Quite right. Riding horses should be for invertebrates only.
But what's that got to do with roller coasters?

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Catseye1979
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I remember living in Mexico a bunch of us got some Root Beer at a store that sold US Products. All the natives in the house said it tasted like Medicine or Toothpaste. They really thought we lost our minds when we started putting Ice Cream in it, most wouldn't even try it.
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T:man
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I consider anything you can fry in butter American.
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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
Dan: Just how huge is that pet peeve? [Smile]

Enormous. It used to have a little peevehouse out back but it's too big for that now. If I keep reading this thread soon it may not be able to fit inside the house. What with people saying insane, blasphemous things like "BBQ is Australian." [Wall Bash]

Barbecue is Australian in the sense that Australians call cooking things on a grill barbecuing them. But... that ain't real BBQ.

But no, seriously, most of this thread has been really interesting. Another thing I love about Hatrack: Less ignorant disdain of American cuisine than I see most places. Huzzah! [Big Grin]

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Lisa
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In Israel, fried chicken is called American chicken. Soft serve ice cream is called American ice cream.

Also, multiple choice tests are called American tests, but that isn't a food.

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Lyrhawn
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God, of all the things I want American known for, multiple choice tests ranks up there with reality television programming and American Indian reservations.
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Darth_Mauve
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You all are forgetting Possum, Squirrel or any critter you can cook using your vehicle's motor as a cooking surface (yes, my father had the book on how to use tin foil to wrap your meet so you can cook it in the engine block--and how many miles per pound for best results--your mileage may vary).

How about Lemonade.

Philly Sandwiches?

When I was in Russia we went to a Cowboy restaurant in Astrakhan. It was decorated in bull horns, six guns, and cowboy hats with a big Texas flag over the front door.

Only problem, there was not a single Beef item on the menu.

I'll say Hamburger (named after a German City, but still--Americanized) or just Beef in general.

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imogen
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Things I think of as distinctly American food are cornbread, biscuits (especially eaten savoury - sweet they could be scones), chilli, buttermilk fried chicken, shredded meat 'barbecue' (in fact, most shredded meat dishes), tomato soup with toasted cheese sandwhiches, cookies and milk.

We go to a US ethnic food shop sometimes, to stock up on chilli powders (things like ancho and pasilla powder are almost impossible to get here) and hot sauces. According to that shop, US ethnic food is junk: Kraft MacnCheese, pink lemonade powder, marshmallow fluff sweets galore. But I suspect that's more because of the shop's customers - mostly ex-pats homesick for tastes that they can't get in the normal stores here.

Re Barbecue - of course barbecue is Australian! [Wink]

That reminds me of when I was in South Africa and everyone was telling me about brai, and how it was uniquely South African and how I had to try some. Turns out brai is an Aussie barbie.

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