Mintz 2+3 and National Cuisine

In Mintz’s articles, the author begins by questioning what the real definition of “cuisine” is for Americans, stating that if used, the term relates to the ethnic or natural character of Thai, French, Indian, or Chinese dishes. Mintz does not believe that the foods of a country compose a cuisine, but the foods of a place. To the author, an authentic cuisine is regional because the inhabitants use the ingredients more often and it is a shared experience among the community. When we think of the French “cuisine” as being French bread, escargot, or onion soup, Mintz defines this as “haute cuisine” because it is an agglomeration of dishes from around the country that we label with an umbrella term as “French.” These foods are less authentic however, because they are molded to character to any country based on its local tastes and ingredients.

Mintz discusses the “American Cuisine” as being hard to define because all 1st generation Americans came to the US from all around the world, bring their own cuisines with them. Over time, these cuisines have been diluted to increase the homogeneity of our country. The change in our cuisine is also caused by the commercialization of food, which to this day causes our diets to consist mostly of prepacked, inauthentic foods. These foods are harming Americans too, causing an increase in health-related issues in the past century, as well as the risks of food scarcity in the near future.

In the newspaper article, the author reviews Mintz’s earlier article, and questions his definition of “cuisine.” The author uses data gathered from old American newspapers to graph the frequency of the word “restaurant” to see Americans begin to talk openly about the “American Cuisine.” It is not until the 1850s that people begin to discuss the American cuisine and compared it to the French cuisine which had been glamorized earlier on. From this study, the author concludes that American cuisine exists if we use cuisine in the narrow sense of a particular discussion about cooking, or if French cuisine is presumed to exist.

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