Take a look at American cuisine and it’s easy to see that, as an immigrant country, many outside influences have come into play from the pastrami and salt beef of Eastern Europe to the pizzas of southern Italy. They’ve all come together to create an eclectic melting pot of ingredients and flavours which, in turn, has steadily spread across the world.
In the UK, in particular, there are lots of US-inspired favourites that are starting to appear both on the menus of restaurants as well as at so many of the takeaways who use delivery services like Deliveroo – not to mention on the nation’s tables too.
A great example to start off with is the slider. Ask anyone a few years ago what one was and they would probably look at you blankly before asking if it was something to do with ice skating or tobogganing. But now they’re recognised for what they are – bite-sized versions of that old favourite, the hamburger. Incidentally, no one knows for sure just whey they’re called sliders but there is a theory that they were named after the small burgers served to sailors, which were so greasy that they slid around the plate as the ship rolled in the waves.
But, whatever the derivation, they have the perfect appeal that any miniature version of a larger object tends to have – think Mini-Me to Doctor Evil in the Austin Powers movies – or perhaps not! Anyway, they make the perfect appetisers or canapés, especially as the types on offer have expanded to include burgers made out of everything from succulent crab to crispy chicken.
Low ‘n’ slow
Staying on a carnivorous theme, the low and slow method of barbecuing that’s especially favoured in the southern states – and taken so seriously that your choice of sauce can even be seen as a political act – is another major trend that’s caught on in recent times. So, now everyone’s more than familiar with the term “pit master” and pulled pork has even started appearing in supermarket sandwiches, displacing the traditional cheese and pickle and egg mayonnaise.
So, these are two savoury examples of the imperialist advance of American cuisine across the Atlantic but there are plenty of sweet examples too. The classic is the ice-cream sundae which, with each iteration, becomes even more complex. For example, all around the country, milkshake and sundae bars have been springing up keen to add ever-more authentically American ingredients. The result: sundaes and shakes that have had the addition of everything from Oreos to Twinkies and from Hershey Bars to Skittles.
And the final recent arrival we’re going to look at here is the ice cream sandwich. There once was a time in the UK when this consisted of a block of vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two cardboard-like wafers. But no more. Now you’re as likely to find a blueberry-flavoured ice cream surrounded by delicious cookies encrusted with mini marshmallows.
So maybe it’s the final proof that we need that everything is bigger and better in States – except for the sliders, of course!