Chop Suey, Pepperoni Pizza and Flour Burritos

Thinking back to what I tend to eat when I go out with my friends, I think the food we get the least is American food. And from there steams the question what is American food? When I get burgers from a Colombian spot in Woodhaven and they add avocado, pineapple jam, salsa rosada, and potato chip crumbs to it, is it still an American burger? These questions can be applied to any kind of food, the United States and especially New York is a melting pot of cultures. And with that the melting, integration and influence it has on food is undeniable.

A lot of the food that we associate with a certain country in the United States, does not accurately represent the food of the home country. Jeffrey M. Pilcher dives into this topic in his book Planet Taco A Global History of Mexican Food. Pilcher states how “Mexican food is one of the top three ethnic foods in the United States, along with Chinese and Italian.” He goes on to say that the most popular dishes we associate with these cuisines such as pepperoni pizza, chop suey and flour burritos are not the typical foods of these countries. Speaking from personal experience, while I was abroad in Italy my sophomore year, I expected to see Dominos style pizza everywhere. And to my surprise I did not, pizza was not as common as I was made to believe and the pizza I did see was all flat bread or margarita style pizza with very thin crust. No where did I see soft chewy, fat dough resembling clouds similar to the likes of Pizza Hut and Dominos.

But wait even though the pizza we know of today originated in Naples Italy, people have been eating food on flat breads in the style of pizza for years before Italy, places such as Persia, and Greece have documentation of these types of dishes from over 7,000 years ago. Travel and integration of goods and people makes it difficult to label one place as being the authentic root of a certain type of food. Jeffrey Pilcher goes in depth about this in Planet Taco,

The global presence of Americanized tacos has provoked outrage from many Mexicans, who take patriotic pride in their national cuisine. But beyond a common distaste for ‘gloopy’ North American versions, there is surprisingly little consensus about what is properly Mexican, even in Mexico. Every region and virtually every town had its own distinct specialties, which are regarded with deep affection by residents.

Pilcher (8)

Every region having its own type of food, ties into the history that Pilcher goes into later on in the book and how colonization and the grouping of all people under Mexico gave way to a multi faceted cuisine and culture. Is there any food that we can say has had no influence by another culture. Especially in modern times with the easy accessibility we have to food and travel, I foresee a lot of more fusions in the future, and I look forward to them.

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