— italians mad at food (@ItalianComments) December 23, 2022
American cuisine is just flat out not very good. Now, yes, as I discussed with the infamous sandwich thread, you can get amazing food in the United States. This is unquestioned. But what matters when evaluating national cuisines is the average food, the stuff that you eat every day. And the idea that American food on the average is better than French or wildly better than Vietnam or Thailand is just patently absurd. I mean, it’s utter nonsense. I’m not arguing the U.S. has the worst food in the world or anything ridiculous like that–I mean, have you been to Costa Rica? But especially when you take out the food of recent immigration that have so transformed American foods since 1965, it’s really not a pretty picture.
And it never was. American food in the nineteenth century was roundly criticized by travelers as being a combination of greasy meat and overly sweet desserts. American food in the mid-twentieth century led the way in tasteless processed food. In fact, I don’t think there’s any real counter argument to the assertion that the food in contemporary America is the best that we’ve ever had. It’s still not nearly as good on average as the endless taco stands of Mexico or the curries of Thailand or the ramen of Japan or basically everything in France–all of which are ubiquitous on the streets, unlike the U.S., where if you really want excellent American food you have to plan for it and search it out. That’s the difference.