Americans consume all kinds of food in the United States. Ignoring the American food sold in other countries, the American food sold in the United States sometimes originates elsewhere. Sometimes it’s an Americanized version appropriated from some other culture, and sometimes better than the original.
Traditional American Food
Anything that can be cooked by itself can obviously be called American food. Certain dishes like steak and potatoes have been consumed for longer than the country has existed. Some food may be as American as baseball and apple pie, like hamburgers and hot dogs, but were they invented in the United States? The hamburger was most likely invented in Hamburg, Germany, but it first gained recognition at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair.
The sausage for the hot dog originated in Germany, called a wiener or frankfurter, but the idea of putting it in a bun originated in the United States.
I’m sure you’re familiar with a few of them, and I can’t even come close to naming them all. The best I can do is to mention the ones I’m somewhat familiar with:
- burritos and chimichangas
- tacos and tostadas
Burritos and Chimichangas
Burritos originated in Mexico. A chimichanga is actually a deep-fried burrito. While you can find packages with either name on them at the grocery store, the ingredients are usually the same, a burrito that hasn’t been deep-fried. Homemade burritos are easy enough to make that buying prepared burritos at the store is usually a matter of convenience. I haven’t bought any at all since I returned to the Philippines in March 2022.
I can’t find the brand or the type of burritos I like. Like everything imported, it’s a hit or miss situation. Some stores carry burritos, but not the ones with steak and cheese as the ingredients. Bean and beef burritos make me flatulate too much, so I won’t buy them.
Pizzas originated in Italy. There are more pizza franchises in the United States than I can remember. Some are easy to remember, like Pizza Hut and Dominoes, but that’s because they advertise a lot. You can also buy frozen pizzas at grocery stores. Giorno is a brand that’s advertised a lot.
I haven’t had any frozen pizza in the Philippines. There are a couple of places I visit to have pizza, one being Xtremely Xpresso and the other being S&R New York Style Pizza. I’ve even had the S&R pizza delivered. The delivery fees are a lot lower here than probably anywhere else in the world, usually well under a dollar (when you mentally convert the exchange rate).
There are other pizza places here that I’ve been to, but not within the last five years.
Spaghetti Isn’t American Food
It can’t be. It originated in Italy and refers to the noodles, not the dish, although that’s what most people call it. Traditional spaghetti is served with some kind of sauce and without any kind of meat. The meat is served separately, usually as meatballs. A lot of Americans still eat it that way.
Not Filipinos. They add pork or beef to the spaghetti sauce, stewed for a period of time. The sauce for Filipino spaghetti is sweet. My wife, Josie, uses Ragù spaghetti sauce and adds ground beef to it, even if the sauce already has meat in it. It’s not sweet, and that’s how I like it.
Tacos and Tostadas
Tacos originated in Mexico. It’s simply a tortilla with meat and other ingredients inside a tortilla, folded over. The stiff, toasted tortilla called a tostada is an American invention. So are the stiff taco “shells” and tortilla “bowls”.
Josie and I usually eat flour tacos with refried beans, ground beef, lettuce, cheese and salsa. The salsa precludes the need for tomatoes and onions. It’s difficult to find the salsa at any of the grocery stores because it sells out quickly. The grocers never order enough.
I recently found corn taco shells with the brand name of “Bambi”, made in Manila. They’re just as good as the American brands.