Thursday, February 17, 2011

Iconic Americanized Dishes

I felt like writing an interactive blog post today. I was thinking about "Americanized" ethnic cuisine and I was wondering what people thought were the most egregious (or wonderful, depending upon your point of view) examples of Americanized dishes. Here's my list:

Chinese: General Tso's Chicken; Egg Foo Young

Indian: Chicken Tikka Masala

Thai: Pad Thai

Japanese: Philadelphia Roll (or any sushi with salmon); Chicken Teriyaki (or anything involving a mushroom being flipped into a chef tote)

Korean: "Chicken" Bulgogi (and most Korean BBQ)

Italian: Spaghetti and Meatballs, Pepperoni

I have noticed that there are two types of "Americanized" dishes. There are watered down versions of authentic ethnic dishes (i.e., Korean BBQ, Pad Thai) and then there are dishes that were wholly invented in the U.S. (i.e., General Tso's Chicken, the Philadelphia Roll, Spaghetti and Meatballs). Personally, I prefer the latter: it's strives for its own authenticity in a way, unlike the watered down versions of ethnic dishes, which tries to have it both ways (appealing to American palates yet clinging to pretensions of authenticity) while ending up just being a poorly conceived and usually badly prepared dish.

Anyway, does anyone else have any nominees for iconic Americanized dishes?


  1. Spam Musubi. Hawaiian dish made by rolling Spam up sushi-style. It's delicious and a good example of mixing techniques rather than watering down.

    California rolls are another good sushi-style "fusion" cuisine.

    I wonder about Chicken Tikka Masala, tho. Isn't that British/Scottish in origin?

  2. Yeah Matt, you're totally right about the Chicken Tikka Masala. I'm pretty sure it is Anglo/Scottish, though it is so popular in the US I feel like its American. Though I did talk to someone who insists that Chicken Tikka Masala is Butter Chicken, which is an authentic dish that is served in India. But, I think the difference is that Tikka Masala has cream instead of butter, using tandoor chicken rather than regular chicken, and has tomatoes while Butter Chicken does not. Might be wrong though.