Our staff is passionate about food, so we wanted to share some of our favorite U.S. treats with you! Every culture has a deep attachment to its food, so eating as the locals do is a great way to connect with your host country. No matter what kind of food you like, there will be something to tempt you!
Allison, Program Manager
Image courtesy of Jerry Huddleston
My favorite U.S. food is the classic American hamburger (or cheeseburger). There are many debates over who invented the burger, but most agree the first ones popped up in the U.S. around the turn of the 20th century. The burger is an American staple, usually served with lettuce, tomato and onion on a seeded bun and completely customizable in meat, meat temperature and especially in toppings and condiments. Many restaurants make burgers with meat other than beef, such as turkey or bison, and there are even vegetarian burgers. A recent food craze is the ramen burger and you'll also notice the widespread popularity of mini burgers called sliders.
Whether you enjoy fast food burgers like the Big Mac, California's In-N-Out Burger, or Shake Shack's steak burgers (check out #2!), use your time in the U.S. to discover your favorite! You can also learn to make your own with these creative burger recipes. Watch this documentary celebrating Hamburger America!
Nabil, Admissions Coordinator
Image courtesy of thebittenword.com
One of my favorite foods of all time is Southern fried chicken. Fried chicken is a dish made from chicken that has been covered in a batter, breaded, and then deep fried. After frying, the breading and skin add a crispiness to the outside of the chicken while the inside remains moist and juicy! Salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, and paprika are some of the most commonly used seasonings in Southern fried chicken. I love this dish because the seasoned crispy exterior complements the chicken meat and it is super easy to eat with your hands. This dish makes a great comfort food and can be enjoyed at any time of the day. You can even get fried chicken for breakfast where it is usually accompanied by a delicious waffle.
The leg of the chicken is called a “drumstick” and it is my favorite piece! There is nothing like the first crunchy bite of a drumstick. There are many regional varieties of fried chicken with different seasonings, but you can typically find Southern-style fried chicken in restaurants throughout the United States. Fried chicken is such an American staple that there is a National Fried Chicken Day that is observed on July 6th!
Signe, Participant Services Coordinator
Image courtesy of Pexels
I believe dessert is an important part of every meal, and as far as sweet treats are concerned, cupcakes rank very high on my list of favorites. They are individually-sized, provide abundant decorating possibilities, and are just plain delightful. Cupcakes were first developed in the United States in the 19th century and were revolutionary because of the time they saved in the kitchen. Cupcakes were originally referred to as number cakes because of their easy-to-remember ingredients: one cup of butter, two cups of sugar, three cups of flour, and four eggs. Of course, the cupcake recipe has evolved and expanded to include a wide variety of ingredients (maple bacon, red velvet, salted caramel, and so many more), but the number cake recipe is one of the first recipes for making what we know today as cupcakes.
Since their creation, cupcakes have become a pop culture trend, inspiring bakeries, cookbooks, blogs, and magazines devoted entirely to cupcakes. As a resident of New York City, my personal favorite cupcake place is Molly's because of their famous center-filled cupcakes. Their Cake Batter cupcake changed my life. To find the best cupcakes near you, check out The Daily Meal's list of the 101 Best Cupcakes in America.
Lynne, Program Director
Image courtesy of Jay Thompson
My favorite American food is Buffalo wings! Growing up, there was a restaurant near my family's house called the Drover's Inn that had the most delicious buffalo wings. They were so good, that people would drive for miles just to have Drover's wings. And to this day, anytime I go home for a visit, these wings are must-have at some point during my visit. So what are Buffalo wings? They are called Buffalo wings because they are thought to have been invented in Buffalo, NY. Basically, they are chicken wings that are deep-fried and then tossed in a sauce made of butter and cayenne pepper sauce. Typically, they are served with celery and carrot sticks and blue cheese dipping sauce. Some people prefer to dip their wings in Ranch dressing, but I personally don't want a Buffalo wing if it there isn't any blue cheese on it.
While in the U.S., you may see chicken wings of many forms and varieties, but to truly be called Buffalo wings, they have to be tossed in the butter/cayenne pepper sauce. Most restaurants have their own secret recipe for their sauce, and you will see many restaurants advertise a variety of spice levels, including "hurt me", "call the fire department", "atomic", etc. For some people, part of the fun of eating wings is seeing how much spice they can handle. I prefer a wimpy medium-heat sauce myself! I highly recommend that visitors to the U.S. try Buffalo wings during their stay. They are featured on most American restaurant menus, and if you do a quick search in Yelp for "wing night", you'll find that many bars/restaurants have special nights where you can get wings for as cheap as 10 cents a piece. And don't forget the blue cheese!
Mac and Cheese
Liz, Communication and Recruitment Coordinator
Image courtesy of Rick Audet
Although the roots of macaroni and cheese can be found in various pasta or dough and cheese recipes in European history, Americans have embraced this dish as our own ever since Thomas Jefferson served “a pie called macaroni” at a state dinner in 1802. It started out as an elite casserole dish served at only the finest dinners but has spread to every part of the nation with dozens of variations. It can be found in boxes at your local supermarket as a fast food cooked quickly on the stove top or on holiday tables with multiple types of cheese melted into a bechamel sauce and handmade pasta cooked to perfection in the oven.
Many high end restaurants have delicious versions of this most perfect comfort food. There are even some places that are dedicated entirely to mac and cheese like S’MAC, MacDaddy, Mac Bar, and Mac! But perhaps the most satisfying way to enjoy this dish is by making your own mac and cheese at home. Whether you go for the classic no frills recipe or get creative and add herbs, tomatoes, mushrooms or pancetta to your dish, there is nothing as wonderful as the smell of a bubbling pan of mac and cheese coming out of the oven on a cold night.
What is your favorite American food? Tell us in the comments!
More great posts about food in the U.S.: