American Favourites – American Foods

Most American foods can trace their origins to other countries, such as Belgian Waffles, French toast, French fries, Italian and Swedish Meatballs, Tacos, Enchiladas, Chinese food and much more. As the melting pot of the world, emigrants from every corner of the globe have contributed so many wonderful dishes to the American cuisine.

Eggs Benedict

American Foods - Eggs Benedict
American Foods – Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict has been on American menus for almost 100 years now.There are several stories about the origins of eggs Benedict – all surrounding late-nineteenth-century New York.It is a very popular brunch and breakfast item.

During the late 1880s, financier Le Grand Benedick complained to the chef of New York’s Delmonico restaurant that the restaurant breakfast menu was bland.The chef, Charles Ranhofer, claimed that he was then inspired to create what he called ‘Egg a la Benedick’ and there is a recipe for it in his book The Epicurean (1894).

A second claim to the dish’s origin comes from stockbroker, Lemuel Benedict, who wandered into the Waldorf Astoria Hotel Restaurant in New York, suffering from a debilitating, carousal-induced hangover in 1894. He claims to have ordered dry toast topped with bacon, poached eggs and hollandaise to cure his hangover.The chef, Oscar Tschirky, actually substituted English muffins and Canadian bacon and truffles and came up with eggs Benedict in honor of the hung-over stockbroker.

In the 1896 edition of her book,Mrs. Lincoln’s Boston Cook Book, Mary Lincoln includes a recipe for ‘Dropped or Poached Eggs on Toast’. She cuts the toast with around cutter and suggests making a thin cream sauce to pour around them.

Around 1970, Jack in the Box began serving an Eggs Benedict sandwich. In 1971 Herb Peterson a MacDonald’s operator in Santa Barbara, California modified the Eggs Benedict sandwich and ended up with the Egg McMuffin.

Whatever the origins, this breakfast favorite lives on.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

American Foods - Spaghetti and Meatballs
American Foods – Spaghetti and Meatballs

Almost everyone has at one point in their life has experienced the epitome of comfort foods known as spaghetti and meatballs. This classic dish is considered a weekly tradition when it comes to American dinner time. After all, nothing is more comforting than a heaping plate of pasta drenched in marinara sauce and topped with delectable meatballs and parmesan cheese. So how did this all start?

If you travel to Italy, you won’t likely find a dish called spaghetti and meatballs on the menu, except for those that cater to tourists. While it’s largely known as an Italian dish, spaghetti and meatballs actually didn’t originate there.

Spaghetti and meatballs started with Italian immigrants coming to America between 1880 to 1920. The majority of immigrants were extremely impoverished and ate a lot of pasta—it was cheap and easy to prepare, not to mention if fed many at a time.

Then came the sauce. Canned tomatoes dominated Italian-American cuisine—they were plentiful. The marinara sauce originates from Naples and comes from the Italian word “marinaro,” meaning sailor.

Pasta was first documented in Italy circa 1295, when Marco Polo returned from China. He spoke of lasagne, which then meant “noodles”, to describe what he had seen. By 1400, these noodles were being produced commercially. What became Italian-American cuisine started with a base of Campanian food, minus the many veggies and cheeses and substituting a lot of meat. Even the seasonings that immigrants used, such as garlic, hot pepper flakes and oregano became more popularas they assimilated into American culture.

Hamburger and French fries

American Foods - Hamburger and French fries
American Foods – Hamburger and French fries

As with most foods, there are many stories and theories as to how they came to be.  There are currently three major claims staked in American hamburger history.

Louis’ Lunch: This New Haven, Connecticut, burger joint claims to have invented our favorite lunchtime (and dinnertime) meal in 1900. From its website: “One day in the year 1900 a man dashed into a small New Haven luncheonette and asked for a quick meal that he could eat on the run.

Louis Lassen, the establishment’s owner, hurriedly sandwiched a broiled beef patty between two slices of bread and sent the customer on his way.” So one of the stories go,  with America’s first hamburger.

“Hamburger Charlie” Nagreen: It is said that he started selling meatballs at the age of 15 at the summer fair in Seymour, Wisconsin. However, others say that, “Charlie was a resourceful young man with an outgoing personality.”

After not experiencing much success selling the meatballs, he had an idea! He realized people could take this meal with them if he simply smashed the meat together between two pieces of bread. He called it a “hamburger”. And so this story goes that in 1885 the burger was born at the fair in Seymour, Wisconsin.

Menches Brothers: The brothers’ descendants, who now operate a small chain in Ohio called, not surprisingly, Menches Bros., claim that their great-grandfather and his brother (Charles and Frank, respectively) invented the dish at an 1885 fair in Hamburg, New York.

The brothers originally sold sausages but ran out and were forced to use ground beef, which at the time was considered déclassé. John Menches, is known to have said that: “Faced with nothing to sell at all, they fried [the ground beef] up, but it was too bland. My grandfather decided to put coffee, brown sugar, and some other household ingredients in it and cooked up the sandwich. My great-uncle Frank served the first sandwich, a gentleman tasted it and said, ‘What do you call it?’ Uncle Frank didn’t really know what to call it, so he looked up and saw the banner for the Hamburg fair and said, ‘This is the hamburger.’ “

While each of these stories can be taken with a grain of salt, today’s hamburger, along with a big side order of French fries, still remains a popular meal—any time of the day. Top it with tomatoes, mushrooms, cheeses, peppers, onions, pickles, bacon and any other condiments you may fancy, and you have a complete meal in the palm or your hand!

Southern Fried Chicken

American Foods - Southern Fried Chicken
American Foods – Southern Fried Chicken

No matter where you travel in today’s world, you will find fried chicken, prepared in some manner on almost every menu. But NOTHING beat’s America’s southern fried chicken .

Women all across the south learn how to cook this staple food as young girls. There is definitely an art to cooking up fried chicken just right – crispy, crunchy, well-seasoned, thoroughly cooked and moist on the inside. Not too greasy—it must be finger-licking good!

While fried chicken is prepared thousands of different ways around the world, from mild to insanely spicy hot, southern fried chicken is quite simple: some flour, salt, pepper, and clean oil! You are on the way to the most heavenly chicken you can imagine!

Every holiday celebration calls for Mama’s or Grandma’s fried chicken. Some of the best side dishes include cooked collard greens, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, green beans, macaroni and cheese and much more. Don’t forget the biscuits and honey!  To top it off, a big slice of ice cold watermelon is the best desert you can imagine!

Barbeque Ribs

American Foods - Barbeque Ribs
American Foods – Barbeque Ribs

What started out as a southern tradition, Barbeque Ribs (BBQ for short) have spread like wildfire all across the states.  Whether it’s a county fair or a get-together with family and friends, BBQ ribs are a favorite grilled food.

There are several kinds of ribs—spare ribs, short ribs, baby back ribs and more. Some people prefer beef ribs over pork ribs. But ALL ribs are oh-so-good. If you try to eat ribs with anything but your hands, people will say: “You’re not from around here, are you?” The messier you get with ribs, the more you look like you are enjoying them!

Without exception, all the southern US states have “cook-offs” during the fair and at other times for competitors to show off their best BBQ rib recipes, the best homemade BBQ sauce. Other states are also getting into this competition as well.

You know when someone is barbequing ribs—you can SMELL them!!

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