There’s a culinary frontier right in our own backyard.
We spent the past few decades mastering the fine points of regional cooking from all around the globe— we know our Szechaun from our Cantonese, our Burgandy from our Provençal, and can spot a Neapolitan pizza at fifty paces. It’s time to come home.
America’s regional cuisines are getting their due. Finally.
For years, American food was ridiculed abroad and ignored at home. American food was what we ate in diners and fast food joints; fine dining was synonymous with French cuisine and Continental restaurants.
Not anymore. Seriously credentialed and pedigreed chefs are exploring the foods of every region and sub-region from every corner of the U.S. They’re treating our regional dishes with the respect previously reserved for the imports, elevating both the cuisine’s stature and our pleasure.
Chefs are combining contemporary aesthetics and local ingredients into modern incarnations of regional cuisines. They’re exploring indigenous flavors and products from the well-known regional cuisines of New England, New Orleans, and the Southwest; fast-rising regions like the Gulf Coast and the Pacific Northwest; and newly emerging sub-regions like Hawaii and Florida’s Panhandle.
Of course we’re still a big, old melting pot. We have a vast and complex culinary heritage that continues to be renewed and enriched as new ethnic groups and generations add to the mix.
Regional American food is constantly evolving and will never truly reach its fullest enunciation. Some are troubled by the notion of a cuisine that defies a tidy definition, wondering if there is a true American cuisine. But that’s just culinary semantics. American food is in a constant cycle of rediscovery and renewal, and that’s what makes it so exciting.
Open Table has just released its 2011 Diners’ Choice Awards. They culled over 10 million individual reviews to name the top 100 restaurants serving American cusine.
The all-American food marketplace Foodzie offers carefully curated tasting boxes that let you choose representative regional products from small-batch producers.