American culinary diversity became what we know today due to many different factors. The size of the country, the different indigenous tribes of Native Americans that lived in the country, how was colonized, and the influence of human movement and immigrants are some of the factors that contribute to the food diversity in the country.
American food tends to vary in each region. It is hard to expect one type of traditional meal to dominate in the entire territory due to its size.
This is why the different types of dishes are spread out and divided into the country's different regions.
In this article, you will learn about the food in the Northeast, Midwest, South, and the islands of America. The article also includes information about some disparities in the land and the eating habits of different communities and human systems.
The country has many dietary traditions and cultural ways of cooking and it can take much more than one blog to learn all of it. Go check our guide to the United States cooking to continue learning about the subject.
Throughout the article, keep in mind that there are some dishes and traditions in the United States that spread throughout the territory, but there are always some differences in each region.
Sometimes it depends on the plants you can find in certain regions, how the weather affects certain crops, the cultural diet inherited by certain ethnic groups, and so on.
The Northeast of the United States covers seven states, Vermont, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine, New York, and Connecticut with Boston as its largest city and cultural capital.
The early indigenous Native American tribes located in this region had systems to burn certain parts of the territory to plant meadows and create a land that would attract moose and deer.
These systems and meadows would also help them grow region-famous plants, like black raspberries, blueberries, and cranberries.
The indigenous tribes would also collect and eat nuts, hazel, chestnuts, and some fruits from the forest. The Wabanaki tribes would make nut milk and formula from nuts, corn, and cornmeal.
These techniques were picked up by English women once the colonization started. Many of them were sent back to England to teach these new ways of cooking.
The cuisine during colonial times became some of the region's staple dishes. During that time, recipes like suet puddings, wheaten bread, and a few shellfish delicacies became very common.
The colonists wanted to try anything that they wouldn't have the opportunity to try back in England. Some famous dishes from the time were succotash, chowder, baked beans, and others.
This area of the country was big on apple cider until the colonists introduced other types of beverages (like beer) to their diet.
There's a huge dessert diversity in this territory, going from whoopie pies, pudding, Boston cream pie, blueberry pie, hand-crafted ice cream, pumpkin pie, and the chocolate chip cookie, invented in Massachusetts in the 1930s.
Ever wondered what are the roots of American food? Read more about it the origins of American cuisine.
The midwest has an odd mix of foods mainly because this portion of land was hardly touched by the European colonizers. There were four Native American tribes located in the area, Cheyenne, Osage, Sioux, and Arapaho.
There are 11 states that cover the midwestern area in the United States, and those are, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
Today, their food and diet have great dishes like Chicago pizza style or the Kansas City barbecue style.
During the early Native American period, their diet was based, like in many other places in America, on beans, maize, and squash.
The animals they used to hunt would usually be bison, buffalo, and elk. Later on, the main form of meat would be beef and poultry (turkeys, chickens, and geese). The important fruits of the area included persimmons, pawpaws, apples, cherries, and more.
The north of the midwest got a lot of influence from German, Scandinavian, and Slavic immigrants. They came to the land looking for job opportunities in the meatpacking business.
Their presence influenced the cuisine of the region and today dishes like Bratwurst (a German type of sausage) or Polish sausage are very famous in the area.
The nutrition, health, and diet of the area are a mix of many different factors. The population is used to eating diverse, traditional, and ethnic dishes, as well as having a touch of modern cuisine which was introduced by immigrants throughout history.
The mix of vegetables and meat is very common in this part of America, there are many people who choose to have a plant-based diet, and others that continue to enjoy eating meat.
Feel like cooking? Here are the top USA dishes and desserts.
The South of the United States belongs to the portions of the territory that have been part of the country for a longer time and they claim to have recipes that are almost 400 years old.
The early Native American influence is still quite visible with their heavy use of corn as an essential ingredient for many dishes.
Native American tribes of the region (Cherokee or Choctaw) would gather and eat local plants like pawpaw, maypop, and several sorts of squashes and corn as food.
England and Europe started to set their foods, traditions, and culture as soon as they settled in the early 1600s.
Pork is an important part of the diet of Americans living in the South and many of their dishes are based on this meat. Corn and pork is a staple dish in the area.
However, this region and its population have the fame of having disparities in their health and nutrition because a lot of these foods are greasy and high in fats. But, like anything in human culture, their eating habits won't (and shouldn't) change.
The South is not really big on plants or vegetables but it's not like there are no plants in vegetables in their diet.
Continue learning about American cuisine and fast food culture.
Pacific and Hawaiian cuisine
Hawaii has a huge cultural diversity and its population is of Asian-majority. People in Hawaii have a different background than the people in the continent, for once, they're the only territory of the United States that extends into the tropics.
They had less influence from Native American tribes, England and the colonial system, and so on. Their nutrition, diet, and cuisine are based on many different plants and foods.
The major influences in Hawaii are Japan, Korea, Vietnam, China, Samoa, and the Philippines. The Hawaiian diet consists of raw fish, rice, tofu, and the popular dish called poke.
The plants and vegetables of the area are well into their diet and nutrition plans. They also have a lot of nuddles and different kinds of vinegar as part of their traditional food.
Check out these famous restaurants with local dishes in the USA.