What comes to mind when you think of American cuisine? Is there even such a thing as an American food culture? Be honest now, how many of you thought instantly of hamburgers, s’mores, doughnuts or corn dogs? Or did you laugh scornfully and think microwave dinners and fast food?
I’ve always wondered why the thought of American food raises so many eyebrows and why it seems to have such a bad reputation around the world.
America is a melting pot of cultures, ethnicities and customs and the food in this vast country is as varied as the people living in it. The food is a synthesis of the various nationalities that over the years have settled down in the different regions of America. From European, native American, Asian, Caribbean, and African, the impulses came from all over the world. New immigrants brought their customs and local specialties, adapting them to indigenous ingredients and flavors they found in the new country.
The immigrants tended to settle according to nationality, forming compact urban and rural communities with strong threads of languages and cuisines. Soon however, these regional dishes expanded to include new and exciting foods and dishes taking the “Old World” cuisines and combining them with regional ingredients and traditions to create dishes uniquely American.
From the New England clam chowder in the East, to a sausage and shrimp jambalaya in the South, to wild Alaskan salmon in the Northwest, to Navajo fried bread in the Southwest, the melting pot is a concoction of intriguing and distinct flavors.
Tex-Mex refers to one such regional American cuisine, which today is celebrated and enjoyed all over the world. A culinary creation of early pioneers and settlers into Texas influenced by the Mexican cuisine, the Tex-Mex cuisine quickly spread from Texas to the rest of the country.
Food historians claim that the first printed evidence of "TexMex" in reference to food was in 1945. TexMex restaurants slowly began surfacing outside the Southwest U.S. in cities with substantial Hispanic populations. In the 1970s, Mexican culinary expert Diana Kennedy is credited for taking this simple fare and making it trendy and a new "gourmet" cuisine for a younger generation.
Served at dinner tables across Texas, this cuisine has changed little from its earliest origins and is still heavily influenced by the cuisine in the neighboring northern state of Mexico. TexMex incorporates ingredients common to Mexican cuisine and sometimes some ingredients unknown in Mexico are often also added. This cuisine is characterized by its heavy use of meat, in particular beef, beans and spices, in addition to Mexican-style tortillas. Nachos, crispy tacos, crispy chalupas, chili con queso, chili con carne, chili gravy and fajitas are all TexMex inventions.
A warm, soothing and spicy bowl of chili on a blustery and cool Autumn day, is one of the things I find truly satisfying. We love our chili. My passion for TexMex food I have carried since my childhood years when I spent a few years in Houston. I have not been back for a long time. My uncle and his family, who have lived there for as long as I can remember, keep taunting me to visit, his promises to take me to back to San Antonio for that bowl of spicy black bean chili I can still taste every time I think of chili, makes me fire up my stove top to create my own chili.
What I remember distinctly was the amazing smoky flavor the chili had with a slight heat to it. It was not fiery but packed with fragrant aromas. In my chili I add a sprinkling of chipotle chili to achieve both - the smoky flavor and the heat. Now do not go raising any eyebrows at the crumbling of feta on this. It’s optional - I like the the way the salty cheese offsets the other flavors in the chili. You can use a generous grating of Monterey Jack if you prefer. I serve the chili with cumin roasted potatoes but this would work fantastically on tortillas or dolloped over a crispy taco.
Yes my chili is sacred to me and I am passing on my passion for the TexMex cuisine to Soeren who loves fajitas, quesadillas and co. When our friends come over, they are often spoilt with stacks of cheesy quesadillas, spicy beef fajitas or this chili and I love the way my German friends dig in. Yes - some of them are the ones who scorn at American cuisine.
This is my entry to this session of the Monthly Mingle being hosted at Jenn Cuisine, who has chosen the fantastic theme “Americana”. I am really looking forward to the variety of dishes you have submitted. If you would like to join us the deadline is 30 September 2012.
Dubai Food Photography and Styling Workshop Update
I am thrilled to to announce that the vibrant Dima Sharif of the very successful “I COOK, Specialized Culinary Courses” will be teaming up with us at the workshop to offer an amazing course training our lucky participants in preparing and cooking a sublime Arabic menu. Dima will share some of her authentic dishes to a divine menu that we have just put together. She will guide participants in a hands-on session giving tips, talking about the authentic presentation and the history of the dishes.
We will then style and shoot some of the dishes and last but not least enjoy this tantalizing meal together in a relaxed atmosphere. Dima is one of the leading cookery instructors and food writers in the UAE region.
Now if we have tempted you to join us in this exceptional 2-day food photography and styling course (we have more surprises coming up) you’ll have to hurry as we only have a few places left on the workshop. Interested? Register here!
About Dima Sharif
“Dima Sharif, is a Food Artisan and Cookery Instructor living and working in Dubai. She had been working in the food industry for over 7 years through which her brand - “Dima Sharif” Bringing food to life - was born. Her experience in the food industry is diversified and touches on catering, gourmet food production, cooking and baking training, recipe development, live cooking demonstrations as well as food writing. She is currently a dedicated cookery instructor and food writer. She conducts a variety of cookery courses some of which are specialized courses and others are casual classes and sessions. Dima also writes a food blog entitled “Dima Sharif” that is dedicated to explaining to her readers how food and cookery work. Known for developing scrumptious, very well balanced recipes as well as exploring various concoctions both savoury and sweet from different cuisines in great depth - often in step-by-step tutorials - had her reach out and connect with lots of food enthusiasts, home cooks as well as industry figures.
During the last five years Dima’s reputation as a Food Artisan, writer and cookery instructor has grown considerably in stature particularly amongst her fans and other industry figures. She has developed an enthusiastic following and fan base on various social networks, her blog had gained considerable readership and continues to grow and she is determined to continue bringing food to life through all her current and upcoming projects.
For more information about Dima and her courses please visit www.dimasharif.com “
You might like these ideas from WFLH:
|Black Bean and Goat Cheese Quesadillas||Jamaican Jerk Chicken||Black Bean Chili with Saffron Rice & Papaya Guacamole|
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