Cuisine is something you masticate to. Masticate, of course, means to chew. Cuisine, therefore, simply means food. See? Anything can be made to sound fancier than it actually is.
The terminology is very particular, because “cuisine” is never used for basic food. One does not pick up a Big Mac and call it cuisine. This isn’t because cuisine actually means anything special. Truthfully, the word ultimately comes from the Latin term that means “to cook”, but because it’s French, people automatically assume it’s more fancy than it actually is.
Therefore, the term cuisine carries an association with it that is the very reason it seems important. It’s the food equivalent of taking a pair of pants, adding the word “super” in front of it, and then acting as though the pants take on special meaning because of this.
It might take a while, just as Latin speakers didn’t intend for their term for cooking to eventually only be associated with nice food. All they really wanted was to not die of starvation. But years later, as is prone with the passing of time, associations grew that weren’t originally there.
This isn’t the only time that the term cuisine is used, however. Cuisine is typically attached to the nationality of origin, as well. Cuisine hardly ever stands alone as cuisine. It is always Italian cuisine, American cuisine, or even French cuisine. More notable than that? The cuisine tends to reflect the culture it comes from.
Italian cuisine often is highly saucy, with a lot of oil involved. One could say that it is a tad amount greasy, even. Slick. And occasionally demands protection money from you.
British cuisine? Bland. And probably cross-dresses. Okay, moving on!
French cuisine exists, but quite honestly, it doesn’t get recognized like other nationalities. In fact, what tends to be recognized about French cuisine is the use of wine, cheese, and pastries. One can jump to whatever conclusions they want about the fact that French cuisine involves pretentious and occasionally fruity foods.
American cuisine, however, is the most obvious of all. The prime example of American cuisine is the hamburger, a large slab of meat grilled and slapped on bread. It is simple, but also horribly fatty. And what typically accompanies this item? Something fried. In fact, fried items are a stable of American cuisine, as the most popular styles of food are often the styles with the most fried options. Chicken, fish, and even beef is fried in America, and it certainly fits the nation’s image.
However, the most unique aspect of American cuisine is the love of the obnoxious. Whereas other cultures enjoy foods that “finer” or “require a refined palate” (which of course simply means they suck but if you eat it enough you get used to it), America makes entire TV shows that involve eating a lot of things as quickly as possible.
Simply put, Americans love an eating challenge. If you take a hamburger, make it twenty pounds, then make people eat it in under twenty minutes, it epitomizes America. But that’s the beauty of it all. Because American “cuisine” really isn’t fine dining whatsoever.
American cuisine is the celebration of American life. A celebration of not only the absurd and ridiculous, but conquering it. A celebration not of fancy things, but the simple, grounded things that this country was built upon.
Cuisine is more than food. It is the celebration of a national identity. Americans should be proud that though we are fat, it is because we have risen above staggering odds. The staggering odds known as the Big Texan.
So whatever nationality you claim, be proud of that, and be proud of your food. Go out, and enjoy the cuisine of your people.