Have you ever wondered which foods truly encapsulate what it means to be an American? The Daily Meal’s editorial director, eight-time James Beard Award-winner Colman Andrews, set out to answer this question with his new book, The Taste of America. On Thursday, Nov. 21, The Daily Meal hosted an exclusive event in our test kitchen, inviting guests to join Andrews for the celebration, enjoy some of the foods he defined as definitive of America's flavor, and go home with a copy of the book.
Click Here to See Colman Andrews' "The Taste of America" Book Signing Event Slideshow
Andrews told guests that his inspiration for this, his tenth book, came from reading an essay by Mark Twain about how he disdained European food while on a trip to the Continent and longed for the distinctive comfort of an array of simple American food pleasures.
"I thought a lot about this," Andrews said, "and I thought it would be interesting, as a parallel to Twain more than a century ago, to think about what foods would define the American table today." Andrews included a wide variety in his book, from raw materials to fat-saturated, sugar-enhanced "junk food."
For the event, he then teamed up with a close friend, the popular Manhattan chef–restaurateur Jimmy Bradley (The Red Cat, The Harrison), to bring to life some of the notable foods singled out in his book. "You’ll notice that there are no recipes in the book," Andrews told guests. Instead, it's a collection of short essays on some distinctive American foods. Bradley chimed in to explain just how he and Andrews collaborated to offer guests an American smorgasbord of treats to sample. "After reading the book," said Bradley, "I wanted to take a lot of the best ingredients and prepare them very simply, so I narrowed it down to about 15."
As simple as they may have been, these recipes were nothing short of exquisite. With a menu consisting of items like Finnan-Haddie dip with crostini, baked Blue Point oysters with Parmesan and black pepper, and Maine lobster salad on potato chips, guests were able to really understand the tastes that Andrews describes in his book and experience them as their very own!