What is American food, anyway?!

When I have asked my students what they think, they immediately respond, “Hamburgers.” “Hotdogs.” “Coca Cola.” Apparently, that is the image we project abroad. Nice job, Americans. I mean, thanks Obama.*

No, Americans don’t eat hamburgers every day (okay maybe some of them).

Sure, you know the golden arches.** You know the wonderland of fried chicken. You may have even heard of the place where drunk teenagers go late at night to satisfy their “culture” cravings.

And sure, a lot of people do eat there.*** American food is partly centered around convenience – just being able to drive through and pick up food without ever getting out of your car or breaking a sweat. The “TV dinner” was invented in the 50s so it was easier to sit in front of the TV (new and exciting back then). It was the beginning of the end of families not talking to each other 😛

Is it easy to think that Americans eat unhealthily? Well… yes. And I am not going to help that point. But all kinds of food are available in the States, partially because of our large immigrant base and partially out of creativity. In New York there are cultural neighborhoods (famous ones include Chinatown and Little India) where you can find Chinese, Indian, Italian, Korean, Ethiopian, Japanese, Mexican, Spanish, and many other types of food. Our food culture is inspired by these and more. There are also some radical health trends in the US like drinking smoothies/juicing, salad bars and eating organic. Americans are concerned about health, but we like to indulge too.

So what kind of food is definitively American?

Chocolate chip cookies, brownies, and Twinkies

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches

Accept me!

Peanut butter and banana and marshmallow fluff!

Yes, this beautiful union happened.

Thanksgiving: turkey with mashed potatoes, sweet potato pie, pumpkin pie

We LOVE to combine things…

Cronut: croissant + donut

And we like to go over the top.

Black Tap “Willy Wonka” ice cream
Taiyaki NYC fish cones
Sprinkles cupcake ATM

By the way, where do you think you can find the foods in the last 5 pictures? NEW YORK THAT’S RIGHT.


What do Americans really eat? Believe it or not, actual food. Now, not all of these are 100% authentically American – as I wrote, we take inspiration from other cultures like anyone else – but I do make and eat them at home.

Macaroni and cheese

Food of my childhood.

Baked Ziti

So, so far, pasta and cheese…

All kinds of stir-fry


Matzoh ball soup – Jewish-style

Made by my mom!


Can be eaten alone as a stew, with rice, or wrapped in a burrito or taco.


Conclusion: Some American food is healthy and some is not. But it’s all delicious. I’m a weird American and I don’t eat fast food. I stopped eating McDonald’s at 10 years old. I resist eating hot dogs and I don’t really like klobása. I’m a traitor! On the other hand, I love pasta with various cheeses and peanut butter. So don’t make assumptions about American food… and also try peanut butter immediately thank you bye.

I’ll be posting soon about my favorite and least favorite Czech foods… til then… PB love.


*click here for the history/meaning of the “Thanks Obama” meme.

**a short Buzzfeed video about McDonald’s cup sizes around the world.

***if you have nothing to do for a couple hours and don’t want to sleep tonight, watch the documentary Super Size Me, which is about a man who decided to eat McDonald’s for breakfast, lunch and dinner for a month to see how it affected his help. Spoiler alert: … well, it’s exactly what you think.


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