American Cuisine - Determining the real staples of American Cuisine

I have an odd hobby of trying to determine the best collection of distinctively American dishes. I'm the only one in my family that cares about trying to create a family recipe book, and seeing as I'm American, I wanted to try and figure out the best recipes to keep and work into each other. I thought it'd be a pretty easy endeavor, but I kept running into personal conflicts about it. Feel free to ignore the rest of my post and post any recipes or foods that are distinctively American; it's going to get autistic.

My first step was determining what would be American ingredients and spices. This wasn't too hard actually, the real tricky part was more like what wouldn't be an American ingredient.
Potatoes and Tomatoes are immediate give mes. Turkey, Chicken, Pork, Beef, Venison, Bison, Boar, Bear, Gator, Shrimp, Crawdads, Catfish, and all other fish. Lemons, Limes, Oranges, Chocolate, Coffee, Apples, Carrots, Celery, Onions, Bananas, Plantains, Cucumbers, Pickled Cucumbers, Pears, Pumpkins, Squash, Navy beans, Black beans, Kidney beans, Black eyed peas, Green peas, Green beans, Tomatillos, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Corn, Cornmeal, Molasses, Lettuce, Spinach, Chicken Eggs, Cows Milk, Cow Butter, Heavy Cows Cream, Malt Vinegar, Apple Cider Vinegar, Worcestsire Sauce, Ketchup, and Mayonnaise. These are all easy answers. It gets tricky when it comes to specifics, like whether to include Clabber or not. What about Yogurt? What kinds of Flour are better? Cornmeal is definitely in, but what about refined sugar? Would liquors and alcohol fall into this category? What about yeasts? Would you include Baking Soda/Powder?

Thankfully, spices/ tend to be way easier : Black Pepper, Salt, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, Mint, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Allspice, Chile Powder, Cayenne Powder, Paprika, Garlic, Dill, Anise, Coriander, Cloves, Mace, Juniper, Mustard Seed, Fennel, Ginger, and Vanilla.

My lists are incredibly disorganized (I thought I had it corrected forever ago, but it's still all over the place), so I'll just leave it at this for now. Any suggestions or dumping would be appreciated. I'll leave with a better question : when making biscuits, butter or lard? Buttermilk or no buttermilk? Sourdough or Baking Powder/Soda?

EDIT : Double checking my post and I realized that I forgot to explain my particular dilemma in better detail. I haven't found a recipe book that approaches cooking in a pantry-based way. Meaning, it would start by telling you "if you want to start incorporating most of the recipes in this book into a regular rotation, here is what your pantry should start looking like". Because it's meant mainly for myself (and, by extension, my family) I wanted to break everything down to its most essential elements, avoiding as many one-off items as possible. I always had trouble having five different flours that I only used for specific recipes, where, if I really narrowed it down, I could get by with just Whole Wheat Flour and Cornmeal. I thought it'd be more cost effecient in my case to focus more on sourdough breads, seeing as I use a lot of peeled potatoes, and skip out on baking soda/powder (for cooking at least). I'm still conflicted when it comes to vinegars, but I've been leaning more towards Apple Cider Vinegar, if only because the tang is unique. I'm still stuck between Malt and White. I'm hoping this is making sense, I'm still a little off-kilter from my fucked up lists. Like I said, it's my personal autism.
 
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Arm Pit Cream

5%er, Jupiterian Philosopher, Anglophobe, CSIS
True & Honest Fan
American food culture is centered around niggers. They eat food for niggers. They killed hundreds of thousands of white men to free niggers. They listen to nigger music. They elect a nigger as their president. They dress and act like niggers. They draw the entirety of their modern culture from niggers. They post sassy gifs about niggers. They watch sportsball in worship of niggers. Their biggest event of the year involves throwing parties in honor of niggers playing sports. They use nigger slang like "bruh" and "thot". When you say "Martin Luther" they're not thinking of the father of protestantism. They're thinking of the nigger. Their cities are completely overrun with niggers. They worship their ZOGbot police force disproportionately filled with niggers and their global police force of soldiers filled with niggers. Their men sit around watching nigger ball while their women sit around watching nigger talk shows and fantasizing about nigger dick. They worship niggers like Muhammad Ali and Michael Jordan and Michael Jackson and the late Janet Jackson while attacking the whites who actually built their country before niggers took over. Their movies are filled with niggers and their music charts are topped by niggers. They send niggers to the Olympics and celebrate when the niggers win because those niggers are true red blooded american niggers. They watch nigger porn to a point where "BBC" does not make them think of an international media company but about nigger penises instead. They will tell you how much they hate niggers and how the mutt's law meme is a stale joke and they are just pretending to love niggers but the evidence speaks for itself in that America has always been and will be a nation of nigger loving niggers.
 
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I always had trouble having five different flours that I only used for specific recipes, where, if I really narrowed it down, I could get by with just Whole Wheat Flour and Cornmeal.
I think right here is where you need to start. I would take all-purpose flour over whole wheat and also add rolled oats, corn starch, and bread crumbs. Just because having those is going to cover pretty much all the bases on the starchy things in the pantry. They can substitute for pretty much anything and you can cook near everything "American".

Start breaking it down like that. What do you need for root vegetables. What sauces. What spices. Fill the pantry to the smallest workable size you can. This is going to mean a lot of boring stuff like table sugar and shortening. Then write your book making sure to point out where you can swap an ingredient for something a bit fancier for a better result.

Edit: Add Basil, Celery Salt, and Bay leaves to your spice list. That is the one place where you can go kind of crazy because they are cheap and don't take up much space.
 
I think right here is where you need to start. I would take all-purpose flour over whole wheat and also add rolled oats, corn starch, and bread crumbs. Just because having those is going to cover pretty much all the bases on the starchy things in the pantry. They can substitute for pretty much anything and you can cook near everything "American".

Start breaking it down like that. What do you need for root vegetables. What sauces. What spices. Fill the pantry to the smallest workable size you can. This is going to mean a lot of boring stuff like table sugar and shortening. Then write your book making sure to point out where you can swap an ingredient for something a bit fancier for a better result.
I haven't been baking as much recently, mostly due to time and cost, can't try substitutions and tinkering with whole wheat vs all-purpose. Last flour I used was Unbleached All-Purpose. That will have to be a testing zone to see if it's worth it or not. I'm not quick to shut down options. I know Cornstarch is also useful for baking, but I find slurry is better in the long run. Better habit, and if you use Cornmeal instead, can add another layer of flavor. Like in Chili, I always slurry a bit of cornmeal into the Chili right before the long simmer. If I'm in a bind, slurry a bit more and it thickens it up within an hour. Bread crumbs are pretty convenient, but home made crumb ain't too hard. Part of why I didn't list it. Rolled Oats and Sugar is a bit of an embarrasing omission on my part, same with Grits and Corn Oil (or Peanut Oil, have to test that).

I have a lot of scratch recipes, some are old standbys and others are testers. I wanted to get a book that'll actually keep the method of making everything (barring vinegar and flour because fuck that) you need beyond simple ingredients. Mayonnaise, for example, is pretty easy to make, (worcestsire not so much) but there's nothing wrong with just buying it at the store.

I started this whole thing with recipes, actually. Just sitting down and writing down everything I could think that was well loved in my family or well known across the country. It was a huge, disorganized mess, spread across two different phones and laptops. That's just on my end, my mom, dad, and grandmother have a ton of recipes all over the place too, not to mention my buddies. A lot of it, barring my dad, was from rougher times, and some from foreign countries. Only thing I can find right now is the pastries, and that's not particularly helpful. I tried to get every recipe I could, figure out all the ingredients involved, and simplify/substitute/test from there. It's a long term thing, but it's always fun. Annoying that I've lost most of them, but they'll either turn up or I'll get it done eventually.

Do milkshakes and floats count? I love a good Strawberry Milkshake and A cola float.

Milkshakes are absolutely important! I've always wanted to try making a Custard Ice Cream, but I always botched the Custard before I felt comfortable enough to even try making homemade Ice Cream. Regular milkshakes are good, but nothing beats a really good custard shake. Never been one for floats, though.
 

Sackity

Yo, buddy. Still alive
Do you yanks actually use mustard sauce regularly as a condiment or is that just a lie told perpetuated in American media?
 

stupidpieceofshit

Panzer Vor, Motherfuckers
True & Honest Fan
Venison, Bison, Boar, Bear, Gator,
I wouldn't consider these 'American' as a whole (or as we think of 'american' food, shit posting fastfood aside), Bison is mostly just a novelty meat at restaurants and stores.
I haven't seen actual Boar, Venison is mostly limited to hunters, Bear uh even Babish in hipster New York had a hard time getting this IIRC, and Gator is at best regional.

But your post reminded me, my friend when he was at college was involved in a study/experiment where people in it only ate per-colonial foods/items that would have been available to natives in the State the college is in.
 
Do you yanks actually use mustard sauce regularly as a condiment or is that just a lie told perpetuated in American media?
Mustard is practically a staple condiment. Most sandwiches use it in one way or another. It's a decent substitute for mustard powder too.
I wouldn't consider these 'American' as a whole (or as we think of 'american' food, shit posting fastfood aside), Bison is mostly just a novelty meat at restaurants and stores.
I haven't seen actual Boar, Venison is mostly limited to hunters, Bear uh even Babish in hipster New York had a hard time getting this IIRC, and Gator is at best regional.

But your post reminded me, my friend when he was at college was involved in a study/experiment where people in it only ate per-colonial foods/items that would have been available to natives in the State the college is in.
Bison is harder to get, but it's definitely a part of the palate so to speak. Makes good burgers though. Boar, Venison, and Bear are pretty easy to get in most rural communities. Just need to look for a local butcher, one that hunters typically frequent. They'll occasionally shave off the cost for some of the meat to sell. Ain't cheap, but it'll sell. Boars, Deer, and Bears are common pests too. Babish's issue was being in NYC, live in the boonies and you can get it pretty easily, though it's probably more regional too. Doesn't help that Bear ain't the easiest or tastiest meat either.

There's a recipe from the Old Southern Cookbook I've been trying to pluck up the courage to try : Road Kill Casserole. Said to use "road kill Possum, but if you can trap one, feed on corn or grain for 2 weeks for better flavor". Same for Raccoons. I've met enough guys in my life who grew up eating that to know it's not going to kill you, but I hate the things. My grandmother has a Squirrel Stew recipe kicking around somewhere too. Sure, most of those meats are novel now, but it's definitely something to keep in mind.

How'd that experiment turn out? Can't imagine too pleasant; I know very little about traditional Native food, but it couldn't have been fun.
Americans eat shit on a daily basis.
The average diet and quality of products there is just plain garbage.
Most fast food is garbage, regardless of where you go. It's definitely a big American issue though, part of why I wanted to make sure my family had a decent recipe book to go off of. Most of it is just laziness, no one wants to cook, much less cook properly. There's an interesting passage in Hillbilly Elegy that talks about how most of the younger hillbillies have no idea how to really live off the land anymore because they grew up with fast food and mountain dew. They barely even know how to cook. That's most Americans, unfortunately.
 
Pie is pretty damn American I think. I wouldn't know really since I haven't been to any country outside of the U.S.
 
Lamb. In 2017, 150 millions pounds were produced compared to 80 million pounds of veal. https://www.meatinstitute.org/index.php?ht=d/sp/i/47465/pid/47465 Gator meat is too regional to be considered a staple of "American" cuisine. Florida or Louisiana sure, but virtually unknown in Idaho, Maine, or Alaska. Gator production would be measured in the tens to hundreds of thousands. The only number I found was 800,000 pounds produced globally.

For veggies you need to include peppers. Bell peppers are a top 10 veggie on any list and jalepenos are included as toppings on burgers, chili, nachos, hot dogs, and burritos to name a few.
 
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