Is American food ethnic food? Of course it is. All food is ethnic food.
When I travel outside the United States and the conversation turns to food, hot dogs, hamburgers, and BBQ are what everyone associates with our country. Unfortunately, people often have the fast-food chain versions in mind. (Foreign definitions of American food, like our narrow understanding of many foreign cuisines, can be a little off.) If I’m sharing great American food with someone born outside the United States, I want them to try an authentic Jersey hot dog, or experience disco fries and a burger at a shiny Jersey diner. That’s why EthnicNJ features American and New Jersey as cuisine categories.
Like every other global cuisine, American food comprises iconic dishes and many distinct regional cuisines – from Creole and Cajun to Southern and Tex-Mex. So-called “New American” restaurants tend to serve food that isn’t exclusively any other global cuisine, but borrows from many. EthnicNJ puts the best of these restaurants on the map as simply “American.”
Of course, American cuisine is really the best of all the ethnic food our immigrant ancestors brought with them. Pizza, by now, is authentic American food. A generation from now, ceviche or banh mi may be as American as apple pie. That’s to be expected in a nation of immigrants. My first response when I’m asked about the best food in the USA: “You name it, we have it. Especially in Jersey.” Ethnic food is American food, and vice-versa.