Saturday, October 3, 2009

American Food (food, MomVisit09)

We didn't just go out to eat at expensive restaurants every night. We also had some good ol' American food. So what's American food? Because America is made of so many different cultures and climates, it is hard to define. Some believe it to be hamburgers and hot dogs and other fast food. A case has been made that Chinese food (or rather Americanized Chinese food) is American food because of its prevalence. One other definition of American food that I read about was barbecue and this makes the most sense to me.

Here is my reasoning. Some form of barbecue exists all over the US. While barbecue has many regional variants within the US, they all share many common basic elements. Most barbecue practitioners use cooking apparatus that is unique to American barbecue, as opposed to South American or Australian variants. Also, indigenous ingredients and flavorings (such as specific wood types for smoking) are used as opposed to imported items. And for some people, hamburgers and hot dogs also fall into the barbecue category.

I wanted to take her to both Hill Country and RUB to experience two different types of barbecue, but we only had time to go to RUB.

The ribs were a little dry, but I could definitely taste the flavor in the meat. It's very different from those ribs at Applebees or some such where all you taste is basically the sauce.

When you go to RUB BBQ, you have to get the burnt ends. Not up for debate. We really enjoyed this delicious plate of tender, fatty, well-charred, and well-seasoned brisket. For accompanying sides we chose greens and potato salad. This was my mom's first experience with Southern style greens and we were trying to figure out what kind of vegetables they were comparable with in Chinese cuisine. We decided that it was the type of vegetable used to make the preserved vegetable, mui choy (梅菜), which essentially are mustard greens. I still can't really tell the difference between mustard and collard greens, but I like both.

We did also have hot dogs and burgers. She's had her share of dirty water hot dogs over the years, so I decided to bring home some Gray's Papaya. We found the dogs somewhat salty, but I am still a big fan of the snap on their casing.

While there are many great burgers in NYC and I enjoy both the black label burger at Minetta Tavern and the simpler and cheaper burger at Donovan's in Woodside, I thought it would be a unique NYC experience to wait in a ridiculously long line for a Shake Shack burger. We only waited 10 minutes or so in line, and my mom really enjoyed the burger. She wasn't as excited about the red velvet frozen custard, which I love and ate three times last month.

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