International Foods Lesson Plans for American Regional Cuisine
Why do we eat Buffalo wings in Buffalo and why do people in Minnesota eat “hot dish”? Learning about where food comes from and why it started is fascinating and can really hook your students into learning culinary arts. I mean, where did mac n’ cheese come from? Why do we smear ketchup on our hot dogs? It can be pretty shocking to learn the beginnings of foods that we are used to eating.
The History of American Regional Foods
The US has a unique food history because of the indigenous people who were here for thousands of years using the foods available to them to create dishes such as pemmican. Slowly, people began to emigrate to the United States and brought with them their unique foods and cooking methods from their birth countries.
The combination of both food availability, as well as cultural influences, has created a wide variety of foods.
American Regional Cuisines
New England– The original immigrant region with the first being the Pilgrims! With a mix of seafood, game foul, and vegetables such as turnips and sweet potatoes. Dishes such as:
- New England clam chowder
- Johnny cakes
- Boston baked beans
East Coast Cuisine- Millions of people moved from Europe into regions like NYC bringing with them their own unique twist on cooking and food. Dishes such as:
- Philly cheesecake
- NY style pizza
- Hot dogs
Southern Cuisine- A mix of Native American, African and European cultures created a unique and very regional cuisine in the south. The Choctaw and Seminole contributed the deep bit barbecue and enslaved Africans contributed unique cooking styles and ways of cooking foods such as okra, black-eyed peas, and eggplant. Dishes such as:
- Collard greens
- Fried okra
- Macaroni and cheese
Midwest Cuisine– With a mix of Northern, Central, and Eastern European immigrants as well as indigenous people, along with living in the “bread basket” has created a unique regional cuisine. Dishes such as:
- Fried green tomatoes
Southwest Cuisine- Spanish colonists, and Native people with proximity to Mexico and it’s foods helped to create the Southwest cuisine. With a dry, hot climate, meat has been a staple. In recent years, southwest cuisine has gained popularity across the United States.