The United States is a very large country with lots of different cultural influences, and as such it is a true paradise for the foodie who likes to travel! Here are some awesome places to check out if you are into trying different cuisines in their native environment.
- New Orleans
New Orleans, the biggest and most famous city in Louisiana, is another wonderfully diverse place. History brought many peoples to New Orleans, including African Americans, Creoles, Cajuns, French, Spanish and many more. This diversity is, unsurprisingly, reflected in the cuisine of New Orleans, which is best experienced on the city’s always buzzing streets.
One typical New Orleans dish you absolutely must try is gumbo, a stew made either with sausages or with seafood. Gumbo combines West African and French influences, such as the use of okra—a vegetable which originates from East Africa but spread to North and West Africa many centuries ago—and the making of a roux, a sauce made of butter and flour which is widely used in French dishes.
Hawaiian cuisine is a wonderful mix of food cultures. The most prominent among them is the native Hawaiian food culture, which originally came from Polynesia, as the first people to settle in the Hawaiian archipelago were Polynesians from the Marquesas Islands and, later, from Tahiti. The second most important influence on Hawaiian cuisine is Japanese food culture, as there were a large number of Japanese immigrants to Hawaii during the colonial period of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.
Maui, the ‘Valley Isle’, is one of the best places to experience the variety of Hawaiian cuisine. Maui resorts offer you the chance to immerse yourself in the wonderful natural environment of Maui—the Pacific Ocean, the Haleakala summit, the rainforest—while at the same time being close to countless local restaurants. One delicacy you must try is Spam musubis, which consist of rice and a slice of Spam wrapped in seaweed—an obvious Japanese influence.
- Southern Texas
Texas, especially the southern part, has been heavily influenced by Mexican culture, both before the unification of the United States, when there were many Tejanos of Mexican and Spanish descent living in Texas, and afterwards, due to the large amount of migrants from northern Mexico to Texas.
This has given rise to Tex-Mex cuisine, which is distinct from Mexican cuisine. For instance, chili powder—which many non-Mexicans would associate with Mexican cuisine—is a uniquely Texan invention which was actually developed by a German immigrant. Another example of the difference between Tex-Mex and Mexican cuisine is enchiladas: cheese enchiladas, where grated yellow cheese is wrapped in tortillas and then covered in a beef and chili sauce, is a typical Tex-Mex dish, whereas Mexican cuisine tends to use chicken and pork rather than beef in meat dishes, and to cover enchiladas in a green tomatillo sauce or in mole—a sauce which combines many ingredients including chilis, tomatoes and cocoa.
There are plenty of places to visit in southern Texas—the Lone Star state is massive, after all!—but if you are a fan of city breaks you can’t miss San Antonio and the very progressive Austin.