The United States of America has developed a culinary culture that draws its origins from the sum of the influences of the various peoples who have colonized them over the centuries. Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492 but the present United States was colonized starting from 1600. The natives had a food tradition based mainly on the use of corn and legumes. Then there was a fusion of the local cuisine with the traditional one of the various ethnic groups from Europe. In particular, these settlers came from Northern Europe and, above all, had English, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch origins. In fact these were the main seafaring powers of the time and, therefore, they were the ones most engaged in exploration and colonization.
FUSION OF VARIOUS FOOD CULTURES
Hence, in those centuries there was the sum of the influences of different culinary cultures. In particular there was an important phenomenon of fusion and incorporation of different culinary ingredients and cultures. In addition, further influences occurred thanks to the arrival of black slaves who brought their African culinary traditions and created a cuisine often based on less noble products. Subsequently, starting from 1800 there was the influence of multiple European but also Asian culinary cultures.
So the most common cereal in the American continent has always been corn. In fact it is native to this continent and was the basis of the power of the Incas and Aztecs. In particular, corn on the cob was eaten after being boiled or roasted. Furthermore, corn was used after being transformed into flour but first it was boiled in a solution of water and ash. In fact, this treatment made the corn more digestible by promoting the absorption of important nutrients such as tryptophan and niacin. The first is an amino acid. Instead the second is a precursor of a B vitamin.
In particular, without this treatment and without the formation of these two precious nutritional principles, a corn-based diet would be unbalanced. This treated cornmeal was called masa harina. Then it became the basis of typical preparations of the American continent. In particular from Central America and the South of the United States and I’m palando tortillas, in particular they are flour loaves cooked on a griddle and then filled with a wide variety of ingredients. Rice was also increasingly used. In fact, it became an important ingredient in soups and stews. In addition, in the 1800s the habit of thermally treating corn kernels spread to form the cerel flakes much used in breakfast.
DIFFUSED CONSUMPTION OF MEAT
Furthermore, in the world the concept of American cuisine is linked to the consumption of meat. In fact it has always been a very abundant food in the United States thanks to the presence of huge pastures. Then it became a staple of the American diet, replacing starchy foods. In particular, typical meat-based dishes such as burgers were born. In addition, the custom of barbeques spread. Bacon is often used for breakfast. In addition, chicken and turkey are also staples of U.S. cuisine.
Finally, milk is also widely used, especially in the condensed or powdered form. In addition, it is very common to consume fries or hamburgers often bought on the street. Southern U.S.A. has a cuisine influenced by Mexican cuisine. So there is a wide use of meat, onion, beans, chili.
BETTER FOOD EDUCATION WITH OBAMA
However, this type of eating habits have caused health problems for large sections of the population. For example, the United States of America has a large number of inhabitants suffering from cardiovascular diseases. The situation improved during the years of the Obama presidency (2008 – 2016) in which funds were invested for the food education of citizens. In addition, an attempt was made to replace snacks rich in hydrogenated fats and sugars with portions of fruit at school. In fact, one of the promoters of this initiative was the firsy lady Michelle Obama.
Hence the number of vegetarians and vegans in the U.S.A. It is constantly growing, reaching the number of 10 million. However, for the time being, the American people’s trend towards vegetarian conversion is hampered by the often high costs of plant products. Despite all this, vegetarian products are sold at affordable prices in many cities and food companies.
CITY WITH MORE VEGETARIAN HABITS
The cities that can be defined as real “vegetarian havens” are Portland, Los Angeles, Orlando, Seattle, Austin, Atlanta, New York, San Francisco, San Diego, Tampa. In addition, the vegetarian attitude of these cities was evaluated using parameters such as variety of vegetarian foods available, accessibility, quality sum of the influences of the new healty culture. In particular, a close relationship has been statistically demonstrated between widespread vegetarian habits or in any case frequent use of plant foods and low incidence of cardiovascular diseases as well as lengthening of the average life span and reduction of obesity.
doc. Massimiliano Mangafà
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