Tamales

When you mull it over in your mind, what comes to mind when you think of American food? Hamburgers, hot dogs, and crispy french fries? Meatloaf and buttery mashed potatoes? Or do you think of common easy to prepare entrees such as macaroni and cheese, Hamburger Helper, and or even frozen dinners? Surprisingly — depending on who you ask — many if not all of these classic American dishes have deep foreign roots in Europe.

When European colonists forced their way onto American soil, venereal disease wasn’t the only thing they brought. In addition to many foreign strains of bacteria, they also brought their native and traditional foods with them. Food is, and always has been, an integral part any culture regardless of that culture’s geographic origin. Even though the ingredients may be similar, each culture has a unique way of combining them in order to crate a dish that reflects who they are as a people.

In the case of Hispanic food, this notion is very true. Ironically, classic Hispanic foods such as arroz con pollo, ceviche recipes, empanadas, flan recipes, and tamale recipes, have been seamlessly incorporated into standard American fair. For example, Taco Tuesday is one of the most common yummy dinner ideas statewide, and Cinco de Mayo is but an apple pie American American holiday now.

These classic recetas de comidas are iconic staples of Hispanic food, yet they have continued to simmer their way into the melting pot that is American cuisine and culture just like the ethnic and foreign foods that came before them from European immigrants. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that spaghetti was considered a strictly foreign food. Similarly, Chinese food has all but become completely Americanized, a fear which many people Latino descent have in regards to Hispanic food.

It’s true fast casual and fast food restaurants such as Taco Bell have capitalized off of Hispanic food while erasing many of integral components to better suite the picky American palate. Hispanic food is a mixture of traditional dishes and flavors from Spain that have been married with native and indigenous produce, seasonings, and meats.

Furthermore, many Latino and Hispanic foods have strong West African influences as a result of the blending of cultures that occurred during the tragic Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. Examples of this include bean dishes made with okra, chayote squash, bread fruit, plaintain, and root vegetables.

However when sold in American markets, many if not most of these ingredients have been left out. On the bright side, many traditional Hispanic food ingredients are now being sold in mainstream American grocery stores. And as more Latinos begin to embrace their indigenous roots, the prevalence of ancient grains and ingredients naturally begins to increase.

So now that Hispanic food is becoming the newly accepted American staples, what ethnic or foreign food group do you think will be next?

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