Tyler Carnohan Encarncions Kitchen Articles and Recipe Book Excerpt Blog Post. February 4th, 2022. The initial article by Victor Valle was quite the informative piece in that not only did it discuss the origins and estimated intentions of Pinedo and her recipe book but it also went into the culture of post American conquest of Alta California and its inhabitants. It is clear from the information and accounts documents within his article that a great number of injustices were performed on the native population of Alta California, such as the murder of Jose de los Reyes Berreya and his two nephews of which is but one documented slights out of hundreds of occurrences that went unwritten during this transitional era for the people of Alta California. It is clear that from this article that the culture of the inhabitants of Alta California underwent a great reform due to the Anglo conquest, of which saw the creation of the “Spanish” moniker as well as its formation as a distinct culture within the southwest United States. Many of Pinedo’s recipes appear to be both as a result of her deep Catholic schooling which accounted for her above average schooling, and bilingual abilities, as well as the accumulation of authentic Mexican recipes and dishes present within newspapers, magazine articles, and documents passed down by her mother and grandmother. There’s also the use of the “Spanish” naming style for her recipes as well as the inclusion of snide remarks discussing the failure of English cooking to teach their men how to cook food that was not bland in flavor or with “soul”. Dan Strehl’s article opens in a similar manner to the previous one but the opening section focuses more on Pinedo’s family line and how they came to be in the Californio area, as well as slightly touching on the conflict the family has with the anglos. The closing of the section also made note of how Pinedo was able to vent her frustration with the anglo people by talking down their recipes within her own book which I found to be quite enjoyable to read about. The history of the publication of Mexican cook books and how little there actually were in Latin America was something I wasn’t expecting especially since they have had access to printing technology for a long period of time. The formal nature of how these recipes were passed down from mother to daughter was something I found quite nice since its something I can personally see within my own household, but at the same time the loss of these recipes due to the death of these families is something that I believe should be equally valued. The shear significance of Pinedo’s book is something I can wholly appreciate due to the fact that these recipes are amongst the only written records of these California dishes that were not perverted by using Anglo methodology to prepare them. After looking through the recipe book excerpt I’m noticing that the preparation of the ingredients as well as the ingredients themselves are both unique to her people’s culture most notably was her description of her “Tortillas” within this recipe she describes how the ingredients are cooked in a Comal, which is a type of cookware unique to that area of the world, as well as how she describes cooking the final product over “coals” are all methods of cooking that are somewhat unique to their people’s culture, and I look forward to discussing these articles further in class next week alongside the class facilitators.
The two reviews of the “El cocinero espanol” cookbook by Victor Valle and Dan Strehl provided very different ways of looking at the writing itself. Strehl looked at the publication of cookbooks (and other books) in general during that time period and compared Encarnacion’s writing to those. He termed her book, “a sociological document that serves as a testimony of a lost culture.” Valle, on the other hand, examined the cookbook as a whole as more of a cultural artifact, even describing it as a “book of recipes and identities.” Both reviews illuminate the conversation. Strehl describes food as “one of the most, if not the single most, visible badges of identity,” and points to Encarnacion’s disdain for Anglo ham and eggs as “juevos hipocritas.” Valle picks up on this same emotion when Encarnacion defines Anglo cooking as merely “tea and potatoes,” calling this a “culinary insult.” I am unaware of this meaning, but perhaps it will be revealed in class. The third reading from the cookbook itself was great, and revealed the “old way” to write recipes, which oftentimes had no measured ingredients, but rather “a good piece” of butter or lard. I want to try my hand at some of these recipes.
Looking at all three readings it is plain to see how they all tied together on the question of if there is actually an “American cuisine”. All three readings took a different perspective on this topic. In the readings by Mintz it is explained that because of America’s cultural norms on food, there is no American cuisine. One of the main reasons for this proposed by Mintz was that cuisine was thought more of a regional cuisine rather than national. This makes it so that there is no “American cuisine”, but a more “southern cuisine”, “northern cuisine”, and so forth. This is due to the difference in the weather and the resources that are available in each reason. While in the reading on ads in the newspaper and articles it talks about the frequency of keywords like “restaurant” and “cuisine”, which confused me as to why this was a sure-fire way to show that Americans do have a cuisine. Due to the nature of this reading, I have a lot more questions about this than definite answers. Looking at these readings it is clear to see for me that we really do not have an overarching “American cuisine”. There is for sure a regional cuisine in multiple places in America, but there is for sure no “American cuisine”. Although there are for sure some very “American” things like hotdogs, hamburgers, and McDonalds as a whole which are known worldwide as American classics.
I really enjoyed how in all three of the readings it went back to this idea of if there even is an “American cuisine”, but approached it from different perspectives. In the reading about newspaper ads and articles, I thought it was an interesting perspective to look at the frequency of different words that relate to “restaurants” and “cuisine”. They come to the conclusion that in some way American cuisine does exist however this poses more questions than it answers. I found the Mintz readings interesting and explained why Americans don’t have a specific cuisine because of the cultural norms in which we think about food. There are many reasons for why we as Americans didn’t develop a cuisine. Mintz points out that cuisine isn’t to be thought of as a national cuisine but cuisine is more regional. Here in the U.S. we have so many regions with vastly different resources and food available to us that it makes it difficult to develop an American cuisine. After reading these I really thought of that overarching question of “do we even have an ‘American cuisine’?” and I think that in some ways we do. We may not have a so called cuisine the way that other regions of the world have it. However we have developed certain ways of eating and certain products that have become recognized worldwide as undeniably American.
After reading American cuisine, I was shocked at what the author was speaking about. When they said that national cuisine is contradictory which I have always heard about national cuisines so it shocked me. When they spoke about how food doesn’t come from a country it comes from a place… just because of borders and that makes them regional cuisine. Another thing that I found interesting was the way of eating can be lower than others then there becomes a hierarchy. Overall I learned a lot and this weeks reading was very interesting.
I thought it was really important that Mintz highlighted the distinction of class in our perception of cuisine and haute cuisine. I think we often associate “better” food with more expensive food, though that is not always the case. Mintz also notes that different socioeconomic classes eating different foods is an American novelty, something I had assumed extended to other countries as well. I thought the chapter on American eating habits was really interesting, because the U.S. has such a diverse collection of food stories and history. Despite having many different food specialties in certain regions, there isn’t necessarily a translation into a cuisine. In addition, Mintz highlighted that Americans spend a great deal of money eating out at restaurants and fast food joints. This was something I had recognized at home, and it has also been impacted significantly by the COVID-19 pandemic. At one point, my parents noted how much money we had saved during the pandemic by making more meals at home. I thought Ray’s point that restaurants matter in shaping cuisine was really interesting, because restaurants are able to give us new food experiences that we may no have been able to replicate otherwise.
I thought Mintz
s ideas on “American cuisine” was very interesting. While I know that much of the food Americans tend to eat is based on the food of another country, I had always assumed that there existed some type of purely American food. However, I agree with the author`s reasoning that American culture is so diverse that it makes more sense to talk about regional cuisine rather than national cuisine. I also really liked how Mintz talked about the link between food and culture. Food is often looked at as a way to understand a culture.
It was very interesting learning about the actual and incorrect meanings of “American Cuisine.” The fact that almost every “cuisine” is changed and adapted to fit American culture and palates make it less like a traditional cuisine that uses regional ingredients and is important to local people, which is the original meaning of cuisine. Mintz also explains that there can be regional cuisines, but national because food traditions and resources are different throughout individual nations including France and Spain. Food items also tend to have a correlation to class and hierarchy, specifically in the United States. For instance, those who eat filet mignon or caviar tend to be seen as wealthy or of the higher classes, whereas in other countries, that is included in everyone’s daily meals. In “Eating American,” Mintz discusses how the US is unique in the fact that we were mostly populated and influenced by European Countries. Immigration has greatly impacted and influenced food options throughout the US. The fact that the people in the US eat out more also impacts the food that originated from other countries and how they have to be changed and adapted to fit American lifestyles and likes. It was also interesting to learn how restaurants started in the US and how they have been reported in local and national newspapers over several centuries.
The essays were full of information and different viewpoints on how “American Cuisines” differ from others. I liked how Mintz offered his opinion that America doesn’t truly have its own cuisine. At first, this idea didn’t sit right with me until I read some of his points supporting his idea. America is always looked at as a melting pot because of all the different cultures we have here. Most of our food comes from different origins and we give it an American twist on the food. I enjoyed how Mintz explained the definition of cuisines and bridged the gap between cuisines and food. The essays offered a valid perspective about food and cuisines from a scientific view.
The foods of a country do not, by themselves, compose a cuisine.” (Mintz)
In many regards, I agree that there is no firm definition of an “American Cuisine.” I tried to think of things I could think of that were quintessentially considered American classics, such as hamburgers and hotdogs, various styles of barbecue, mac n cheese, midwestern hotdish, apple pie, mayo-based “salads,” and more recently poke bowls. Or even American food styles— such as certain coffee roasts, varietals of wine, styles of dining (think of the 24-hour diner, especially Waffle House at 2 am on a Saturday) or other things I’ve experienced as comfort food in my lifetime. Every single one has a tinge of American culture, but geographically has immigrant roots going back to hundreds of locals all over the globe.
I also agree that there is no real national level of cuisine in any country, so much as there are homogenized roundups of various nations’ regional favorites cemented via media and expatriate emigration. I’ve heard from various sources before that the United States of America really is just a collection of 51 different nation-states playing a very disorganized game of tag together, and I agree. In the context of food studies, every state has its own economy, agriculture specialties, watershed construction, and topography, as well as highly varied population demographics, historically also clouded by waves of immigration and generational shifts.
I think “haute” cuisine is representative of what a society considers “cultured” in relation to high-status individuals’ desires and tastes. I also use the term “cultured” in contrast with the anthropology concept of nature vs culture, so that “natural” in this case would refer to the everyday cooking of the proletariat in a given region, something we do instinctively with what we have at hand, rather than sourced from far away or out of season as you often see in more “cultured” or “refined” cooking contexts.