With the exception of the influence of the Indigenous people, the cuisines of North and South America (including the Caribbean) are based on the cuisines of the countries from which the immigrant peoples came, primarily Europe. However, traditional dishes have evolved over time to reflect the integration of local ingredients and techniques to create a unique American and Canadian cuisine that is very much its own.
North American cuisine has a history dating back before the colonial period when the Native Americans had a rich and diverse cooking style using the abundant ingredients available. With European colonization, the style of cooking changed dramatically as new ingredients and cooking styles from both Europe and various countries colonized by Spain, Portugal, Great Britain, and France, along with the cuisine of West Africa introduced from the slave trade. The palette continued to expand into the 19th and 20th centuries with the influx of immigrants from nations across the world, most notably China, Germany, Ireland, Italy and Eastern European Jews. This influx created an incredibly rich diversity of foods and cooking techniques, each with its own unique regional twist.
The three earliest cuisines of Canada all have First Nations, English, and French roots. The traditional cuisine of English Canada derived from British cuisine, while the traditional cuisine of French Canada evolved from the combination of French cuisine working together with the winter provisions of fur traders.
Notable Canadian Dishes – Tourtière (ground meat pie), Poutine (French fries with gravy and cheese curds), Glissants (French Canadian dumplings), Montreal Smoked Meat (cured and smoked brisket), Montreal Bagels (bagels), Peameal Bacon (Canadian bacon), Saskatoon Berries (sweet nutty berries used in pies, jams, wine), Butter Tarts (butter and sugar in a shortcrust pastry), Nanaimo Bars (three layers of a cracker crumb and coconut base, sweet custard for the middle, chocolate ganache topping), Sugar Pie (baked pie with maple sugar filling), Beaver Tails (deep-fried dough topped with peanut butter and chocolate or strawberries and cream)
MHT Canadian Recipes:
American Northeast (New England)
This regional cuisine originated in the New England region of the United States. Its roots are tied to the area’s Indigenous people and the cooking of England that the early colonists brought with them. It is characterized by extensive use of seafood and dairy products, which results from its historical reliance on its seaports and fishing industry, as well as the extensive dairy farming taking place in the inland regions.
Notable New England Dishes – Steamed Clams (clams with melted butter dip), Fried Clams (fried clams with tartar sauce), Boiled Lobster (whole Maine lobsters with melted butter dip), Lobster Rolls (lobster meat in hot dog rolls with mayonnaise or melted butter), Rhode Island Calamari (fried squid with pickled peppers), New England Clam Chowder (clam and potato cream soup), Sausage Sub (sweet Italian sausage in a roll with cooked onions and peppers), Baked Haddock (fish filet with breadcrumbs and butter), Boston Baked Beans (slow cooked kidney beans, salt pork, and molasses), Boston Brown Bread (thick molasses bread), Rhode Island Johnnycakes (cornmeal pancakes), Boston Cream Pie (yellow cake in chocolate icing with custard filling), Indian Pudding (long-cooked cornmeal, milk, molasses dessert with ice cream), Maine Wild Blueberry Pie, Maine Whoopie Pies (small disks of chocolate cake with frosting filling).
MHT American Northeastern Recipes:
American Mid-Atlantic Region
Encompassing the states of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Maryland, the culinary influences in this region of the United States are extremely eclectic. The area was and continues to be a gateway for international culture and new immigrants. Going back to colonial times, each new group has left their mark on the local cuisine and, in turn, dispersed trends to the rest of the United States. In addition to importing and trading the finest specialty foods from all over the world, cities such as Baltimore and Philadelphia have been strongly influenced by a stream of European cultures such as Italian, German, Irish, British and Eastern European Jewish cuisines. Baltimore sits at the crossroads between North and South, a distinction it has held since the end of the Civil War.
Almost all ethnic cuisines are well represented in New York City, both within and outside its various neighborhoods. Much of the cuisine usually associated with New York stems in part from its large community of Ashkenazi Jews and their descendants. The world famous New York institution of the “Delicatessen (“Deli”) was originally an institution of the city’s Jewry. Like New York’s Jewish cuisine, much of the rest of the cuisine usually associated with New York stems from its large Italian and Puerto Rican communities and their descendants.
Notable Mid Atlantic Dishes – Utica Greens (sautéed escarole, cheese, cherry peppers, bread crumbs, chicken broth), White Hots (spicy pork hot dogs), NY Hot Dogs (snappy beef dogs with mustard, sauerkraut, relish), Buffalo Wings (chicken wing in hot sauce), Beef on Weck (warm roast beef with au jus and horseradish on kimmelweck roll), NY Pizza (thin crust pizza), Pastrami Sandwich (hot pastrami with mustard on rye bread), NY Cheesecake (dense baked cream cheese, eggs, and sugar on graham cracker crust), Bagels and Lox (bagel with Nova lox, cream cheese, red onion, tomato), Eggs Benedict (poached egg and ham on English muffins topped with Hollandaise sauce), Egg Cream (drink of milk, seltzer, and chocolate syrup), Philadelphia Cheese Steak (thinly sliced beef in cheese on a crusty roll), Scrapple (crispy-fried breakfast meat of pork scraps, spices, and cornmeal), Maryland Crab Cakes (fried breaded crab), Baltimore Bergers (vanilla shortbread cookie covered in chocolate ganache).
MHT American Mid-Atlantic Recipes:
The middle of the country draws its culinary roots most significantly from the cuisines of Central, Northern, and Eastern Europe, and is influenced by regionally and locally grown foods and cultural diversity. Chicago is the region’s “big city” and its ethnic center, while ethnic communities are sprinkled throughout Minnesota (Scandinavian), Michigan (African), and Iowa (German).
Notable Midwestern Dishes – Chicken Casserole (baked broccoli, chicken and cheese), Breaded Pork Tenderloin (huge cutlets of breaded fried pork), Kansas City Barbeque (smoked spare ribs and burnt ends in sweet ketchup BBQ sauce), Meat Loaf (baked ground meat with oats), Wisconsin Fried Curds (deep-fried cheese curds), Michigan Pasties (pastry pockets filled with meat, carrots, potatoes, onions), Iowa Scalloped Potatoes (sliced potatoes baked in cheese sauce), Italian Beef Sandwich (au jus-soaked roast beef on Italian roll with pickled vegetables), Chicago Hot Dog (steamed all-beef hot dog in poppy seed bun with mustard, pickled peppers, pickles, tomato, relish, onion), Chicago Deep Dish Pizza (thick crusted pizza), Detroit Pizza (caramelized crust pan pizza), Wisconsin Beer Brats (beer-boiled bratwurst and sauerkraut in a bun), Cincinnati Chili (chili on spaghetti with toppings), Nebraska Runza (bread-pockets stuffed with beef, pork, cabbage, onions or sauerkraut), Indiana Hoosier Pie (creamy custard pie), Ohio Buckeyes (chocolate-dipped peanut butter balls).
MHT American Midwestern Recipes:
Many elements of Southern cooking – squash, corn (and its derivatives, including grits), and deep-pit barbecuing – are from Southeast American Indigenous tribes. Sugar, flour, milk, and eggs were among the ingredients that arrived from with the early American colonists, while black-eyed peas, okra, rice, eggplant, sesame, sorghum and melons, as well as many spices used in the South came from Africans arriving with the slave trade. The South’s fondness for a full breakfast comes from the Scottish immigrants love of a full breakfast (or “fry-up”).
Notable Southern Dishes – Biscuits (flaky pastries), Biscuits and Gravy (biscuits in white sausage gravy), Grits (boiled cornmeal porridge), Old Charleston Shrimp and Grits (creole shrimp over grits), Southern Fried Cabbage (cabbage, onion, bacon), Brunswick Stew (mixed meats with corn, butter, lima beans, tomatoes), Succotash (corn and lima bean salad), Hush Puppies (small, deep-fried balls made from cornmeal-based batter), Fried Pickles or Fried Green Tomatoes, Southern Fried Chicken (skillet fried breaded chicken), Mac n’ Cheese (elbow macaroni in cheese sauce), Pulled Pork (long smoked pork shoulder, shredded), BBQ Ribs (smoked spare ribs), Fried Pork Chops (pan-fried pork chops smothered in cooked onions), Fried Bologna (pan-fried thick-slice bologna), Cornbread (sweetened cornbread), Sloppy Joes (ground beef in tomato sauce on a bun), Banana Pudding (creamy bananas in whipped cream with vanilla cookies), Pecan Pie (pecan and corn syrup pie), Peach Cobbler (sweetened peaches baked under biscuits), Key Lime Pie (graham cracker crust with creamy lime filling and whipped cream).
MHT Southern Recipes:
American Deep South
The cuisine of New Orleans dominates this region. It is perhaps the most distinctively recognized regional cuisine in the United States. Some of the dishes originated in New Orleans, while others are common and popular in the surrounding areas, such as the Mississippi river delta and Louisiana. The cuisine of New Orleans is heavily influenced by native Creole cuisine, Cajun cuisine (introduced by French Canadian immigrants), and soul food.
Notable Deep South Dishes – Beignets (fried dough, powdered sugar), Gumbo (soup with seafood, okra, rice), Jambalaya (spicy rice with mixed meats), Dirty Rice (rice with minced liver, ham, spices), Crawfish Boil (crawfish boiled with corn, andouille sausage, mushrooms, spices), Fried Catfish (cornmeal breaded catfish), Mississippi Slugburger (fried thin breaded hamburger, pickles, yellow mustard), Oyster Po’ Boy (French bread roll with fried oysters), Muffaletta (Italian cold cuts, provolone, pickled olive spread, in round Sicilian sesame loaf), Barbecue Shrimp (shrimp baked in a butter-Worcestershire sauce), Mississippi Mud Pie (gooey chocolate sauce on top of a crumbly chocolate crust, usually with ice cream).
MHT Deep South Recipes:
Southwestern cuisine comes from the rustic cooking of the Southwestern United States and is a fusion of dishes eaten by Spanish colonial settlers, cowboys, Indigenous Americans, and Mexicans. Cooking in the American West is dominated by the influence of Indigenous American and Mexican cultures, as well as later settlers that came in the 19th century. Texas, for example, has a strong German influence introduced by 19th century German immigrants. Tex-Mex (from Texan and Mexican) is a uniquely American cuisine that developed from the fusion of Mexican dishes with the ingredients and cooking styles native to Texas.
Notable Southwest Dishes – Texas Hot Links (spicy smoked beef sausages), Creamed Corn (corn kernels in sweetened cream), Chile con Carne (spicy diced meat stew), New Mexico Chile Verde (chili with hot green chilis), Blue Corn (used to make tacos, pancakes, nachos), Green Chile Cheeseburger (cheeseburger with New Mexican Hatch peppers), Red Chile Posole (hot red chili stew with pork cubes and white hominy), Sonoran Hot Dog (Arizonan franks with pinto beans, guacamole, jalapenos, and salsa), Chicken Fried Steak (batter fried thin steak cutlets), Texas Toast (large slices of buttered toast), Frozen Margarita (tequila, Triple Sec, lime juice blended with crushed ice), Oklahoma Onion Burgers (onion slices pressed into ground beef and fried), Sopaipillas (deep fried savory dough batter puffed-up and slathered with honey), Biscochitos (shortbread cookies with cinnamon, anise and sugar).
MHT Southwestern Recipes:
West Coast American
Western cuisine is distinct from the rest of the U.S. due to two important influences: Indigenous American cultures, especially in the Northwest, and the Pacific Ocean. Chinese, Japanese and Korean immigrants have had a big influence in the region with Southern California influenced more by its Mexican neighbors to the south. Hawaii’s cuisine is a unique interpretation of local ingredients mixed with Japanese and Polynesian cuisines.
Notable Western U.S. Dishes – Smoked Salmon (salmon preserved over smoke), Alaskan King or Pacific Dungeness Crab (boiled crab legs with melted butter), Fried Walla Walla Rings (sweet, large white onion rings breaded and fried), Seattle Dogs (hot dog in a bun smeared with cream cheese, topped with sautéed onions), Kalua Pig (pork slow roasted in a smoky underground oven), Poke (marinated chunks of fresh Ahi tuna), Lau Lau (meat or fish wrapped and steamed in taro leaves), Shoyu Chicken (Chicken thighs marinated in a sweet, spicy soy sauce and grilled), Sourdough Bread Bowl (hollowed round filled with clam chowder), Chop Suey (pork and eggs stir-fried with bean sprouts, cabbage, and celery), California Roll (avocado, imitation crab, sushi rice), Chinese Chicken Salad (crispy noodles, salad greens, cabbage, chicken strips, orange in ginger dressing), Cobb Salad (hard-boiled egg, avocado, salad greens, bacon, cold chicken breast, tomato, Roquefort cheese), Ranch Dressing (salad dressing of buttermilk, mayonnaise, garlic, onion, herbs and spices), Montana Cherry Pie (lattice pie of local black cherries),