I was enamored of the market that set up each Wednesday in the town square and took to buying fresh fruit and veg on a weekly basis. I didn't know it initially, but by buying fresh produce and cooking it for dinner in our dorm kitchen I'd managed to break down a rather large stereotype the Germans held about Americans. That is, of course, that we ate heavily processed foods at every meal, and didn't really cook so much as eat McDonald's (they had said this to me) or pour goop out of cans to heat up.
My grandparents and great-grandparents hailed from Scandinavia, England and Ireland. I have relatives from Mexico and China, too. So, what does an American eat?
Chilaquiles? Flank steak over rice with soy sauce? Pickled herring on brown bread? Mac-n-cheese? Avocado and shrimp over lettuce?
We are a country made up of a many different ethnic groups. We are a lumpy stew, if you like. So, too, is our food.
American food is the food you grew up eating.
American food is not burgers, fries and a milkshake, unless, I suppose, that that is what you grew up eating, and, might I say, bummer for you. My parents never cooked us french fries, nor did they blend us milkshakes for dessert. Never once was uttered, "Just one more bite of double cheeseburger, then you're excused from the table."
In addition to the above mentioned fare, here is a sampling of the food we ate:
boiled garlic sausages with cabbage, carrots, and potatoes (cooked in a pressure cooker) served on a plate with spicy mustard on the side.
artichokes from the garden with mayonnaise, and some sort of casserole.
dad's homemade cioppino with shellfish that he had caught himself. I'd write 'we', but I can't say any of us kids really helped much outside of baiting the crab traps.
lasagna-dad's recipe-with some green vegetable accompaniment.
stir-fried tofu with veggies--this was the 70s in California, folks!
Limburger cheese sandwiches--dad was the only one who ate them, actually.
a lot of broccoli, lima beans and brussel sprouts. <--I had a hard time with these three.
baked chicken with rosemary and garlic.
Fridge staples: pickled herring in wine sauce, stinky cheese, Parmesan cheese, mayo, mustard, ketchup, butter pickles, dill pickles, butter, milk, yogurt and orange juice.
If we did have burgers a la fast food, then it was an occasional 'treat' and not at all a daily occurrence. McDonald's wasn't the end-all-be-all either. A & W Rootbeer was our fast food place of choice.
Lumpy stew are we.