Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Classic “American” Foods That Weren’t Invented In America

There's nothing more American than giving the kids a peanut butter sandwich for lunch, ordering a side order of fries, and maybe enjoying some ice cream for dessert, right?  As it turns out some of the classic American foods aren't American at all.  Here's a list of some of the items you find in restaurants all over America, staples in the American diet, that have their origins in other places.

The Sandwich  - What's more American than the Sandwich?  As it turns out plenty.  The Sandwich is a creation of a British Earl; in fact, the Earl of Sandwich.  There are debates about how he came up with the idea of putting things between two slices of bread.  Some say that he was a gambler and he wanted a way to eat meats with his friends without getting his playing cards dirty.  A few people argue that the Earl was a victim of bad publicity and he in fact worked very hard and wanted a meal he could eat while he worked.

Kit Kat Bar – Probably one of the most popular candy bars in not only America, but the entire world, this bar has its origins in the city of York in England.   It's not the only candy to come out of this Northern UK town; the Aero bar, Terry's Chocolate Orange, and many others were found in this great city.  The reason, this was the home of Joseph Rowntree, one of the most influential and successful candy makers in the world.  While the city of York is full of chocolate themed attractions, Rowntree's original storefront is now a Pizza Hut, but still worth a pilgrimage for any candy fan.

Pizza – Of all of the items on this list, the origins of Pizza are probably the most controversial.  I've read stories that it was invented in Chicago or New York by an Italian immigrant restaurateur that wanted to celebrate a visit from a famous Italian royal to the United States.  Italians would have you believe that it's come from a small village in Southern Italy.  Greeks also take some credit as they say they've been baking flat breads with toppings for thousands of years.  The most likely story is that today's pizza is influenced from the flat breads found in Greece thousands of years ago. However pizza as we know it came about in village called Naples where an industrious restaurant owner Raffaele Esposito came up with what we would probably define as a pizza (topped with tomato sauce, cheese and other ingredients).

French Fries – There was a time when Americans wanted to call French Fries, “freedom fries”, and that would actually be fine with the French, since they didn't invent them either.  French fries are actually a creation out of Belgium; yes that place that mastered chocolate as well (be very jealous).  French fries are still very popular today in Belgium, where they also boast that they invented the process of double frying to make the fries even crunchier on the outside.  Stranger still is that they offer a French fry sauce in Belgium known as Americano, a sauce I've never seen in the USA, a sort of thousand-island type topping.

Ice Cream – You can't argue that the recent renaissance in the ice cream world is a product of great Americans like Ben and Jerry, and Baskin and Robbins, but the origins of ice cream are certainly in Europe.  It's not clear exactly when ice cream was invented, however Charles I was said to have enjoyed a similar dessert at his royal table.  There are even stories of the Romans collecting snow from the mountains and flavouring them with juices.  The first public sale of ice cream most likely happened in Cafe Proscope in Paris, France.


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