When it comes to US food culture, most of us tend to see our food’s natural style in a really specific way. There are certain flavors and vibes that come to mind when we think of our food. We know apple pie, hamburgers, and hot dogs are all as American as they come.
But, what about other dishes?
America is an always will be a melting pot, and that means that many of the dishes we assume to be exotic really aren’t as foreign as we think. These foods, for example, are a lot more American than you’d ever believe them to be at first glance.
A staple in America’s Chinese restaurants, fortune cookies are still considered to be a novelty item outside of the United States. These after-dinner treats were first invented in California as a way to help market Chinese food to Americans who weren’t gastronomically adventurous.
The first fortune cookies were made in 1918 out near San Francisco. By 1989, companies were selling “Genuine American Fortune Cookies” in Hong Kong! Who would’ve guessed?
General Tso’s Chicken
When it comes to Chinese takeout, few dishes are as popular as General Tso’s Chicken. With its tangy, savory taste, it just feels like a favorite part of Chinese cuisine, doesn’t it? Guess again!
Restauranteur Peng Chang-kuei invented it after escaping the Chinese Civil War and starting his own restaurant in New York City. Peng believed that he needed to make a Hunan-style dish with Americanized flavor to get Americans into Chinese food. It worked, and his recipe spread like wildfire.
Poke bowls are one of the more recent hot trends in the United States, and most people recognize it as sushi-grade seafood served over rice with spices and seaweed. In a word, it’s pretty darn close to “open faced sushi.”
Believe it or not, poke bowls aren’t Japanese in nature. These bowls are actually a blend of flavors that come from pre-contact native Hawaiians mixed with Japanese influences. Either way, it’s delicious!
If you’ve read my articles in the past, then this shouldn’t surprise you in the least bit. Hibachi is most commonly associated with Japanese performance cooking, but it doesn’t have its roots in Japan.
This famous style of cooking was actually invented by Rocky Aoki, founder of Benihana’s in New York City. Since the invention of hibachi, the chain was able to undergo rapid expansion and help usher in a new wave of food fandom.
People who are well-acquainted with Chinese cuisine might already have an inkling about Crab Rangoon’s origins. After all, cream cheese isn’t exactly the most Chinese ingredient that money can buy. If you had your suspicions, you were right on the money.
Crab Rangoon was developed by Chinese-American restaurants as a way to help ease Americans into foreign food. Considering how popular this treat is now, it’s safe to say it worked.