Does American Food Actually Exist?

America the beautiful, America the brave, America the food? It always seems like someone is trying to pinpoint what exactly America is and what it tastes like. This great debate on what food is actually American always seems to retain steam. Take apple pie, for example. The seemingly quintessential American dessert that shows up on Thanksgiving tables year after year around the country. It seems pretty solidified at this point that this dish represents American culture. But yet, people are quick to point out that apples originate from Kazakhstan and pie is inherently English (via CNN travel).

But the question is, isn't the ability to take two ingredients or components of different dishes and meld them together into something entirely new and delicious its own thing? One would like to think. This debate is made inherently more complex by the fact that America is such a large country geographically. Yale Professor Paul Freedman sinks his teeth into this nuanced topic in his book, "American Cuisine And How It Got This Way" where he explores the roots of American food.

The regionalities in this country are so vast that a European country could never begin to imagine the identity crisis American food struggles with daily. And while it is easy just to throw your hands up and shout out McDonald's as the answer for American food, there is really so much more to us than greasy fast food. (Which is delicious, by the way).

What is American food to you?

Knowing that the entire country of France can fit comfortably inside the state of Texas (via Texas Monthly) helps put things into perspective. While it is easy to say that soufflés are French, Yorkshire Pudding is English, and fondue is Swiss; it can be much more challenging to pinpoint "authentic" American food. Why is that? There is an abundance of dishes that resonate across the country, and it all depends on where you live.

For those who live in the South, the picture-perfect American food may be BBQ ribs and cornbread. Or, if someone lives in New England, it's a succulent, oversized lobster roll. Let's not even get started on New Jersey, where the debate of Taylor ham or pork roll is enough to split the state in two. 

While each of these dishes listed may be made up of ingredients that aren't native to this land or pull inspiration from elsewhere, it is difficult to say that most other countries aren't in the same boat. The origin of chicken tiki masala is the perfect example. Great Britain likes to claim it as their national dish, but where it came from is widely contested (via The Culture Trip). Is it Indian? British? Scottish? The world may never know, which is the case for so much food in this globalized, interconnected world.

There is no question that American food exists. The real question is, what is American food to you?