Image by Wonderlane used under Creative Commons License
Thee last thirty years has been an amazing time for American cuisine. Advances in technology like the availability of freestanding cookers, microwaves and other modern appliances have meant the creation of convenience food and made the American consumer much more adventurous in the kitchen.
So which decade has been the most important for modern cooking?
Unlike some of the most popular foods of the 70s (cheese fondue, wow) the 80s saw Americans make huge, and very healthy changes to their diet. Instead of wonderful melted cheese and bread, the kids and adults of the 80s wanted low-fat, tasty and healthy foods.
On top of this, the American consumer began experimenting with foods that we know deem as everyday: microwave meals. In the 80s, the microwave was a mini revolution that meant meals like pasta, rice and other foods that would have taken much longer to cook on a freestanding cooker were done in minutes.
Some of the most popular foods included pasta salad, which The New York Times hailed as “…the darling of the carry-out shop”. Drinkswise, cocktails were huge in the 80s, with one of the most enduring proving to be the delicious Bloody Mary.
America’s obsession with low-fat, healthy foods continued well into the 90s, with many different brands attempting to conquer this trend. Do you remember the McDonald’s McLean Deluxe? Nobody does, because at that time, America just wasn’t ready for a low-fat burger. Some things never change!
At home, cooking styles mirrored the convenience food of the 1980s. The microwave still reigned supreme, and the Hot Pocket was the snack of the decade. For kids, lunch was all about the Lunchables, those easy-build tasty snacks that kept kids busy for hours, and for the family, the chicken Caesar salad was the meal to eat, washed down with a bottle of Arizona tea.
The start of the new Millenium heralded the rise of a new diet craze: The Atkins Diet (remember this one?) and everyone you knew was forgoing carbs in favour of meat.
Elsewhere, American consumers got more choice than ever before, which meant that great products like Sriracha Sauce, artisan bread, cupcakes and green tea flooded the market.
At home, convenience foods soon started to fall out of favour, and instead consumers were experimenting with bold new takes on established American recipes. Instead of a generic burger, the average American kitchen was churning our gourmet burgers, made with different cuts of meat and fillings, like ribs and steak.
From convenience foods to gourmet burgers, the American kitchen is unrecognizable from 100 years ago, which decade was your favourite of them all?