From ten enduring foods, cooks in eastern America created Boston brown bread, chicken al la King, Cole slaw, and succotash. Among southern and mountain state contributions were burgoo, chitterlings, cracklin' bread, fried ham with red-eye gravy, grits, hoppin' john, jambalaya, and poke salad. Cooks in the American midwest and Great Lakes region developed brownie cookies, chicken pies with biscuit toppings, macaroni and cheese dishes, and wild rice casseroles. Inventive western and southwestern cooks prepared barbecued beef and chili recipes by the thousands, while creative west coast cooks invented dishes such as chop suey, cioppino, Hangtown fry, and a myriad of sourdough bread recipes.
Americans celebrate with food. Whether New Year's eve, President's Day, the 4th of July, or Thanksgiving, Americans commemorate holidays with favorite family recipes that are easy to prepare and both pleasurable and satisfying to eat. American history reveals that food has been bountiful, diversified, and sustaining that some dishes have endured from Colonial times through the Space Age.
Behind each classic, American food lies the story of its development and use at specific periods of history. Some stories are humorous, others poignant. All are thought-provoking.
Change always has characterized America. So it is with food. American cuisine is as diverse as the Native American and emigrant cooks who arrived in North America. They experimented, substituted, and modified recipes through the years. Innovation and creativity define American cuisine. Americans developed new dishes with many regional variations. While regional patterns have become blurred in the late 20th century, American cuisine continues to exhibit two specific directions. One direction reflects consistent use of ten foods through time, the second direction reveals the adaptive character of American cuisine -- ever-changing, ever-evolving in character, ideas reflected from new immigrants and new technology.