Mintz is challenging what the term “cuisine” really means. One of his arguments is that national borders are arbitrary, and food patterns emerge regionally rather than strictly nationality. He also mentions that the United States, even though it is a community of people with unique food creations and culture, is not typically considered to have its own cuisine, instead being considered to be a mix of different nation’s cuisines. Moreover, in many cultures, including the United States, class is a significant distinction in what foods different people eat.
Mintz makes that central claim that the United States does not have a cuisine. The United States is incredibly large, so there are many different geographic regions, each with their own local agriculture and, therefore, types of food. Therefore, the United States has regional cuisines but not an overall national one. Furthermore, the author argues that the pressure to assimilate creates greater homogeneity in food habits, but not a unified cuisine. Moreover, most people in the United States do not eat food based on local seasonal availability and regularly enjoy foods from around the world and different cultures. There are common trends in the American diet, including a high consumption of sugar, fats, and carbohydrates and a frequency of eating out.
In “Nation and Cuisine,” Ray is challenging Mintz’s argument that there is no American cuisine. Ray tracks the mentioning of restaurants in newspapers and finds that mentionings typically go up after wars, except for in 1970 and onwards. Ray argues that this increase corresponds with the development of a national American cuisine. He also argues that real people are discussing American cuisine, and because it is being talked about as a community, it is real.