American Cuisine Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

American Cuisine

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While it's possibly true that American cuisine lacks the sophistication of the French, the balance of the Chinese, the fragrance of the Thai, and the elegance of the Japanese, there is nonetheless a warm, comforting quality to American food that is rarely found in other cultures.

American cuisine is largely cuisine of the middle classes - food that's inexpensive, easy to prepare, that cooks up quickly, and is tasty and filling. This makes sense when you consider that for much of the 20th Century, middle class Americans of both sexes worked long hours for modest pay. In contrast with Europe, American industry has little respect for family life, so people had to make do as best they could. When both parents work outside the home, there is little time to prepare coq-au-vin.

Popular dishes include meatloaf, chilli, and scalloped potatoes. However, there are few dishes that sum up the American values of cooking quite as well as Tuna Casserole - a cream sauce poured over canned tuna, cooked pasta, occasional vegetables, and all topped with cheese and baked until bubbly.

Tuna Casserole is a 'one-pot meal', which is to say that it requires a minimum of cooking, preparation or tools. It can be made quickly, which is a reflection of the American values of speed and ease. It's ingredients are modest, reflecting the love affair with thrift, and it is smooth in texture and creamy in flavour, reflecting a love of ease and relaxation, a small taste of the good life after a hard day's work at the plant.

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