The cuisine that best represents America, in my opinion, is any food that’s delivered to my front door. Whether it’s pizza, chinese, burritos, it doesn’t matter. If they can deliver it to my door within an hour of a phone call, they’re then as American as apple pie (which, for you long time readers of AH know, is actually British in its origin).
There are moods I get into at times where I am adamant about not cooking and yet cannot be bothered to head out of my abode to a decent restaurant. I then go against the hunt and gather instincts of my ancestors, and look for someone else to do the hunting and gathering. I recognize these times as ‘opportunities’. Most others would recognize it as simply ‘laziness’.
When I lived in the Suburbs of Washington DC, the delivery world was large and diverse. Not only could I order Pizza and pasta places, but also Indian, Greek and Japanese restaurants. There was even an Afghani restaurant that delivered for a bit. I could choose from several pizza places, basing my phone call on my moods and desires. If I was in the mood for a garlicky pizza, I could call place A. If I was desirous of a more traditional pie, I could call place B. I was in delivery heaven.
When I moved to Seattle, my delivery options changed. Out here, food delivery is nearly an afterthought. Sure there are the pizza joints, but beyond that, the options are quite limited. My household was thrilled when we finally discovered a Chinese restaurant that delivered to our home.
It was this lack of delivery options that made me realized that I had two separate sets of standards for restaurants. The places that I visited I hold to a higher standard than those who deliver their wares to my doorstep. This is by no means a great revelation unless compared against the larger picture. I believe that a large majority of American Food culture doesn’t place ethics or quality as their number one priority when shopping to feed themselves or their family. For many folks, it’s convenience that is one of the top two motivating factors in determining purchases (cost being the other).
The change of American cuisine from pre-World War II to post-World War II had little, if nothing to do with regional traditions. It had everything to do homogeneity, mass-production, and the ability to provide the consumer more time away from the kitchen but with more money in their wallet; i.e. Convenience and cost.
Don’t get me wrong, the ethics behind food production and distribution has made leaps and bounds over the past dozen years or so. Not only are talking about organics, but locality, fair trade and several other ethically-based philosophies have made headway into the American consciousness. This is undoubtedly a good thing.
However, unless a proper means of distribution develops for these ethically-based types of food, they will fall out of our consciousness just as easily as they entered it. And while some may equate convenience with laziness, to ignore either when trying to change the way America eats is a mistake on a large scale.
Updated for spelling errors.