Red, White and Burritos: 10 Patriotic Foods that Aren’t American
What could be more American than hamburgers, hot dogs, and a few cold brewskies on the Fourth of July? As it turns out — almost anything! Much like Alexander Hamilton, these 10 Independence Day staples originated outside the U. S. of A.
Ah, nothing says Independence Day like a big chunk of juicy meat simmering on the grill. But believe it or not, hamburgers (or hamburg steaks) actually hailed from Germany somewhere around the 19th century. Inspired by Hamburg, Germany (surprise, surprise), the meat was seasoned with salt, onions and a few other spices, but otherwise left relatively plain. No bread or bun to speak of. It wasn’t until they traveled over to the good ol’ U.S. of A that you started getting fully loaded cheeseburgers with an array of condiments and toppings sandwiched between two slices of bread. That’s the hamburger, Americanized.
2. Hot Dogs
Fourth of July picnics aren’t complete without a foot-long hotdog, right? But as it turns out, hotdogs aren’t American at all. Once again, this staple “American” food item hails from Germany—Frankfurt, to be exact. Not too many people question its origin, especially after the city of Frankfurt celebrated the 500th birthday of the hot dog in 1987. But the people of Vienna (Wein), Austria, beg to differ, pointing to the term “wiener” to prove they were the masterminds behind the eat-at-your-own-risk delicacy.
3. Apple Pie
It’s as American as apple pie, they say. But that’s not saying much given that the sweet, syrupy dessert is far from American. The apple pie first appeared in historical documents dating back to 1589, referenced by British poet Robert Greene in his poem, “Menaphon.” Needless to say, it didn’t originate here. In fact, it wasn’t brought over to the States until the early 1600s and was originally filled with unsweetened apples—far from the sugary delight we know today.
4. Fried Chicken
Artery-clogging fried chicken is historically a Southern American comfort food . . . right? Wrong. The Scottish actually first introduced the extra crispy, crunchy textured treat.
5. Potato Salad
The Germans are at it again, serving up this delectable side dish. While they are credited with originally making the concoction with olive oil and vinegar, Spanish explorers were the first to introduce the potato to European countries after discovering it in South America. So I suppose we can say they both had a hand in this one. Regardless, it wasn’t until the dish was introduced to America that we started adding mayonnaise. Because we’re healthy like that.
6. Budweiser Beer
Many would argue that fireworks and barbecues aren’t complete without an ice-cold beer. After all, more beer is consumed on Independence Day than any other national holiday. And while it’s not a food, Budweiser beer deserves a spot on the list. Sure, the beer was first brewed in St. Louis, but its creators were German immigrants who brought their style of brewing over to U.S. What we know as a “lager” actually comes from the word “lagern,” a German style of brewing. Go ahead. Throw back that cold one in the name of independence. We won’t tell.
7. French Fries
Before you jump to conclusions, the French fry is actually not so French at all (or so some say). While it’s birthed from a giant vat of bubbling fat, the first people to consider tossing in the potato were the Belgians. Rumor has it that since frying fish was common practice, they decided to toss in some potato wedges when the rivers froze up and fishing became more difficult. The greasy finger food has been served up since the late 17th century, and to this day, Belgians consume more French fries per capita than any other country in Europe.
On a hot summer day, nothing refreshes quite like a wedge of watery watermelon that drips down your chin. The messy but delicious snack is actually thought to originate from southern Africa—more specifically, the Kalahari Desert. Today, China is the largest watermelon producer, but Americans still enjoys it’s sweet, fleshy center, especially during Fourth of July picnics. Pair it up with a glass of lemonade and you have yourself the perfect “All-American” summer treat. Or do as the early explorers did, and use a watermelon as a canteen!
The chilled, wet salad of shredded raw cabbage that often comes on the side with our burger and fries was actually introduced by the Dutch. When they came in droves to New York during the 17th and 18th centuries, they brought their “koolsala” with them.
10. Strawberry Shortcake
The perfect ending to a perfect July 4th holiday. The sweetened biscuit or sponge cake we all know and love is doused in whipped cream and strawberries and, during the Independence Day weekend, blueberries in order to give the famed dessert a traditional red, white and blue look. And while strawberry shortcake parties were held in the 1850s to celebrate the onset of summer, the dessert didn’t (technically) originate in the U.S. The first recipe for the now-famous dessert was discovered in an English cookbook back in 1588.
American or not, you can stock up on all of these items at Safeway!