Food and cultural diversity

Carol Moshier. Flickr. February 6, 2009.

Globalization with ready accessibility to mass transportation has expanded the menus if not the palates of Americans.  Although authenticity has suffered, pizza, fried rice, tacos, and grits are readily and quickly available to many Americans.  For more adventurous eaters, gyros, bagels and lox, and ravioli abound.  Still, our culture of efficiency and economy has constrained the American diet.  If it can’t be located, purchased, prepared, and eaten quickly and economically, it has less value to Americans.  No wonder French food in America is defined by fries and mustard.  Similar reasons have prompted the celebration of beef sandwiches, deep dish pizza, and heaps of mostaccioli as Italian food in America.

Authentic French and Italian food are defined by the purity of their ingredients, the complexity of their dishes, and the slow pace of their service.  The time and expense required for its enjoyment prevents many Americans from preparing or eating French cuisine.  Italian fine dining in the United States has been diluted by large portions, packaged pastas, manufactured cheeses, iceberg lettuce, and house wines.  Unlike Italian families or first-generation Italian-Americans, Americans prepare frozen lasagna, serve boiled spaghetti with canned marinara sauce, and drench pale tomatoes in bottled oil and vinegar salad dressing.

For the hesitant, but courageous diner, fruits and vegetables offer inexpensive adventures in eating.  Their simplicity requires minimal risk.  Their purity rivals the finest restaurant meals.  Sampling kiwi fruit, jicama, lychee nuts, and papaya, is possible due to their availability and affordability.  Even plum tomatoes or tomatillos offer flavors and textures that distinguish them from American tomato varieties.  Consider expanding your dinner menus to include a fruit or vegetable novel to you once per week.  Incorporate your family’s favored ones into meals regularly.  You’ll have a chance to learn new recipes or presentations.

© Laura Rizzardini, Inc., 2011

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