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English Speaking Countries Today – America Unit Four 1 Unit Four Core Text Eating in America Americans love to eat. Although many Americans are busy, three meals a day, breakfast, lunch and dinner, are standard for most people and families in America. We love eating out and we love cooking at home, when there is time. There is a popular syndicated Food-TV network devoted to cooking which airs in most major markets and segments about cooking run on many news magazine shows. Every major newspaper has a food section. No commercial women’s magazine is complete without a collection of recipes each month. There are dozens of commercial magazines devoted to cooking. American cuisine, like American culture in general, is a mixture of European dishes and dishes of other immigrant ethnicities, with some variations thereon. “As American as apple pie” is a characterization often used when describing something quintessentially American. But apple pie is hardly American; it comes from Germany and almost every European country has some version of it. A favorite way of eating apple pie is with a scoop of ice cream on top, called “a la mode”, a French phrase meaning “in style”. Almost every good American cook knows how to make apple pie, although you can buy very good frozen apple pie in any American supermarket and bake it at home, or buy a fresh one in almost any bakery. Americans also love and eat a lot of hamburgers and pizza. Hamburgers are also from Germany, believed to have been invented, or at least named, in Hamburg. Pizza, of course, is Italian in origin. Another extremely popular American food is the sandwich, made of slices of meats, poultry, fish, perhaps with cheese and/or vegetables as well, between slices of many varieties of bread. The sandwich was named after an English nobleman, the Earl of Sandwich, who is crediting with popularizing it. He liked eating meat between slices of bread because it enabled him to eat without soiling his hands while he was playing cards. What do the following items have in common? Wheat flour, shortening, butter, sugar, apples, dairy products, beef, tomatoes, cheese. English Speaking Countries Today – America Unit Four 2 They are the major ingredients in some of the most popular American food, apple pie, ice cream, hamburgers, sandwiches and pizza and they are all produced in great quantity in America. America also imports and exports food. The agriculture sector adds $10 billion annually to the U.S.A. Trade Balance2. Food Consumption America is a bountiful producer of food. In the United States there are 2,128,982 farms covering 938,279,056 acres, with an average size of 441 acres per farm. The following statistics from the United States Department of Agriculture show the average American’s consumption of many common foods and ingredients in 2001. Per Capita Consumption of Major Food Commodities Commodity Pounds Red meats 111.3 Beef 63.1 Veal 0.5 Lamb and mutton 0.8 Pork 46.9 Fish 14.7 Canned 4.2 Fresh and frozen 10.2 Cured 0.3 Poultry 66.2 Chicken 52.4 Turkey 13.8 Eggs 32.4 Dairy products Total dairy products 587.2 Fluid milk and cream 207.5 Plain and flavored whole milk 67.2 Hamburger Sandwich English Speaking Countries Today – America Unit Four 3 Plain reduced fat and light milk (2%, 1%, and 0.5% fat content) 82.8 Plain fat free milk (skim) 28.8 Flavored lower fat and fat free milk 8.9 Buttermilk 2.1 Eggnog 0.4 Yogurt (excl. frozen) 7.0 Heavy cream, light cream & half and half 6.8 Sour cream and dip 3.5 Cheese (excluding cottage) 30.0 American 12.8 Cheddar 9.9 Italian 12.3 Mozzarella 9.7 Figures for 2000 Cottage cheese 2.6 Figures for 2000 Condensed and evaporated milk 5.8 Figures for 2000 Ice cream 16.6 Figures for 2000 Fats and oils 74.5 Figures for 2000 Butter 4.5 Figures for 2000 Margarine 8.3 Figures for 2000 Shortening 23.1 Figures for 2000 Lard (direct use) 1.9 Figures for 2000 Edible tallow (direct use) 4.0 Figures for 2000 Salad and cooking oils 33.7 Figures for 2000 Fruits and vegetables 688.7 Fruits 275.7 Fresh 125.8 Citrus 24.3 Non-citrus 101.5 Processing 150.0 Citrus 84.6 Non-citrus 65.3 Vegetables 412.9 Fresh 196.6 Processing 216.3 Flour and cereal products 195.7 Wheat flour 140.9 Rice (milled basis) 20.2 Corn products 28.9 Oat products 4.4 Barley and rye products 1.2 Caloric sweeteners (dry weight basis) 147.1 Sugar (refined) 64.4 English Speaking Countries Today – America Unit Four 4 Corn sweeteners 81.4 Honey and edible syrups 1.3 Coffee (green bean equivalent) 9.4 Cocoa (chocolate liquor equivalent) 4.5 Tea (dry leaf equivalent) 0.9 Peanuts (shelled) 5.8 Tree nuts (shelled) 2.9 Americans Love Meat 3% of Americans are vegetarians. For everyone else, overwhelmingly almost every meal features meat as the main dish, with beef being the hands-on American favorite. America loves steaks and hamburgers. Beef is typically eaten de-boned in single cuts of 6 to 12 ounces per portion. Serious steak lovers have been known to eat steaks or cuts of roasted beef weighing a pound or more (before cooking). Steak houses, restaurants whose menu includes primarily beef main dishes, are very successful. They serve popular cuts or roasts of meat, cooked rare, medium rare or well-done, to the customer’s order. Cuts of meat, if not roasted, are usually grilled on a rack over an open fire or coals. Steak houses are usually expensive restaurants and they feature the best quality and the best cuts of beef. Hamburgers are more popularly eaten out in fast-food restaurants, although almost every restaurant has hamburger on the menu, and a hamburger chain called Hamburger Hamlet specializes in more upscale burgers which are larger and feature more expensive meat than ordinary restaurants prepare. This menu shows the varieties of hamburgers served, and their prices, at the Hamburger Hamlet in Washington D.C. English Speaking Countries Today – America Unit Four 5 English Speaking Countries Today – America Unit Four 6 Ground beef is made into burgers, of course, but is also the principal ingredient in other very popular dishes, among them, meat loaf and chili con carne. Meat loaf is ground beef (and sometimes other kinds of ground meat, such as veal or game) mixed when raw with chopped onions, seasonings, a raw egg or two and bread crumbs (the egg and the bread crumbs keep the loaf from falling apart when cooked). The mixture is pressed into a loaf pan (the same type and size of pan used to bake a loaf of bread) or pressed and formed by hand in the shape of a loaf. The loaf is baked in an oven for around an hour until it is cooked through, shrunk slightly away from the sides of the pan, richly browned on the outside with the juices gleaming. This dish is most popularly eaten in slices with mashed potatoes, and a salad or cooked vegetable dish. Chili con carne (which translates from Spanish as “pepper with meat”) is a spicy dish that originated in Spain. It is popularly called just “chili” and first became popular in the southwest. Now it is popular all over America. It is a mixture of browned ground beef and beans in a spicy sauce. In Texas, where chili made its first appearance and where it is practically a religion, they say the chili has to be thick enough so you can stand a spoon upright in it. The dish is eaten piping hot in a bowl with crackers or chips and sometimes with jalapeño cheese3 melted on top of it. Cold fresh salads, bread and corn are popular side-dishes. Southwesterners, particularly Texans, take chili very seriously and all over the country, Americans hold contests, called “Chili Cook-Offs” (Author’s Notes: You can find more about “Chili Cook-Offs” on the website: http://www.james-river-runners.com/chili.htm. ), to judge who makes the best chili. Chili recipes differ according to what kinds of hot peppers are used, the other seasonings affecting the taste, the texture of the beef (serious chili cooks will only use more coarsely ground beef than that used for hamburgers, so the chili has a good “chew”). These events are popular community celebrations, often lasting for days, where people listen and dance to live Country-Western music and eat Chili and “fixings’ ” (side dishes) to their heart’s content (sometimes the spiciness of the dish also causes heartburn). Chili Meet Loaf Baked Potato Meet Loaf English Speaking Countries Today – America Unit Four 7 Americans Love Chicken Chicken is generally less expensive than beef and Americans enjoy it often. It is the second most popular meat, after beef. Whole chickens are baked or stewed. Chicken pieces are broiled or battered and deep fried (“southern fried”) a recipe that originated in the deep south. My particular favorite chicken recipe is considerably less fattening than fried chicken and a more recently developed dish. It’s called Chicken Caesar Salad. It’s made with chicken meat from which the skin and bones have been removed. The meat filets are then grilled or pan-fried until done and cut into thick strips. The strips are then combined with lettuce leaves and perhaps other raw vegetables, like tomatoes, onions or cucumbers and topped with a dressing. The warm chicken wilts the crisp lettuce slightly. This dish is usually accompanied by fresh crusty French or Italian bread and sometimes soup. Americans Love Potatoes Americans, on average, eat over 400 pounds of vegetables each year. Potatoes are the most popular vegetable in the United States. The major food uses of potatoes include the following:  Fresh (also called table potatoes) potatoes account for 27% of the U.S.A. potato crop and are used primarily for baked, boiled, or mashed potatoes.  Frozen French fries account for 29% of the U.S.A. potato crop.  Other frozen potato products use 6% of U.S.A. potatoes.  Potato chips (including canned shoestring potatoes) use 10% of the U.S. A. potato crop.  Dehydrated potatoes are made into extruded potato chips (such as Pringles and O’Boise’s4), mashed potatoes, potato pancake mix, and some canned stews. These food products use 11% of the U.S.A. potato crop.  Canned potatoes, 1% of the total U.S.A. potato crop, are used in such canned products as small whole potatoes, corned beef hash, various stews, soups, chowders, and commercial potato salad. While French fries are very popular, when prepared at home, they are usually purchased frozen. The most popular home-cooked potatoes are baked potatoes, mashed potatoes and potato salad. Baked potatoes, sometimes called jacket potatoes are usually made from large potatoes with thick brown skin. The most popular way of eating these is to split them and put butter or sour cream (or both) and salt inside, break the cooked potato up and eat it out of the skin, saving the tasty chewy skin for last. Sometimes baked potatoes are eaten with crumbled bacon and melted cheese. English Speaking Countries Today – America Unit Four 8 Mashed potatoes are made from smaller and thinner skinned potatoes, peeled, cut into pieces and boiled until soft. The hot boiled potato pieces are then mashed with milk, butter and salt. Mashed potatoes can also be made from potato flakes that you can buy packaged in the supermarket. Americans who enjoy cooking at home also like to pan-fry slices of potatoes (called home fries) or grated potatoes (called hash browns) at home. These are popular with large breakfasts. These can also be purchased frozen. Potato salad is a very popular way to eat cold potatoes in hot weather, or as an accompaniment to sandwiches, soups and other dishes. Cooked peeled potato cubes are mixed with mayonnaise and other chopped vegetables then chilled. If you use macaroni instead of potatoes in this recipe, it’s called macaroni salad, which is also a very popular side dish. Americans love pasta, too! Northeasterners are more likely than people in other parts of the country to eat pasta on a weekly basis (84% v. 75%), while Southerners are less likely to eat pasta regularly (70% v. 81%). However, the most dramatic increase in pasta consumption overall has been in the South where 42% of Southerners are eating more pasta today than they were five years ago. Residents from the Northeast and the West are true pasta fans, in that one in five residents report serving pasta three or more times a week. (From http://ilovepasta.org/.) Food Assistance Programs In 2003, the average monthly eat-at-home food expenditure for an average urban family was $180.00. Not all Americans can afford to eat this well. Nutrition for the poor, needy and unemployed is provided by various food assistance programs. Communities and charities sponsor food programs for needy Americans, but the government has the biggest food assistance programs. Among the food assistance provided by the government is the Food Stamps program. Food stamps are coupons that can be used in markets just like money to purchase food. Booklets of tear-out food stamps in various denominations are distributed monthly by the U.S. Department of Agriculture through county agencies to eligible applicants. The amount of food stamps a household receives depends on the number and age of the people in the household. In 2001, 17,313,000 persons in 7,447,000 households received 18,256,575,000 food stamps. The average monthly benefit per person was 74.83. The government also provides other food assistance programs, among them a National School Lunch Program5, a School Breakfast program6, Summer Food Service7 (for assistance when school is not in session) and WIC, a program for Women and Infant Children. Here is a historical table of the number of persons served by these programs: English Speaking Countries Today – America Unit Four 9 The following table details the government costs for these programs: Conclusion We Americans just love to eat. And now you know a little more about what we produce, what we purchase and our favorite culinary delights. You can learn more about specific foods in the extension texts.
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