I used to think that American food was just hamburgers and apple pie. Now, I know better. Reading this book helped me broaden my horizons, and, to be perfectly frank, lessen my disdain for, American food. It not only helped me learn the geography of the States, but also led me to realize that where you come from in America can lead to different food cultures that differ even from state to state! That is why I recommend this book. A textbook I was required to read for one of my culinary classes soon became one of my favorite reads. Instead of being upset about having to open a textbook, I found myself looking forward to it! That is why I want to tell you about this book.
American Regional Cuisines by Lou Sackett and David Haynes is part history book and part cookbook. Which might be the reason I like it so much (as I love both history and cooking)! At the beginning of each chapter they tell you the region, official “culinary” term for each region, and the states that make up that region.
They then provide you a little history of how that region’s food came to be: through the makeup of the land, the people who reside there (first settlers, immigrant, etc.), and its economic viability. Then they dive into specific dishes that are a staple of that region, along with important ingredients, micro cuisines, and defining dishes that make that place what it is.
They, of course, include recipes for the staple dishes and even make sure to provide a variety of menu items: whether you want an appetizer, entrée, or dessert, they have a recipe for it from that region! And reading this book made me realize that throughout the States, from the West Coast to the East Coast, from the North or the South, it really does matter where you come from because there are so many factors that influence what you eat and what makes your food, your food.
If I’m being honest, I can’t even begin to describe the differences between each regions cuisines and what makes it unique. It was such a fun experience learning about each region individually and getting to cook dishes from that region. Eating food that made me feel I was there, creating staple dishes and finding out which regions food I prefer, I learned more from this book than I thought I was going to. And again, I enjoyed learning about it too! That is why I recommend you give this book a go. Even if you don’t read the whole thing, try it. You might learn more than you thought you would.