The California cuisine is usually discussed as the fusion cuisine because this regional cuisine is influenced by different ethnicities and cultures, and the famous dishes in California are the results of combining different ingredients typical for various culinary traditions used to form a new rather unique recipe. The California fusion cuisine is also famous for the presentation of the individual variants of such well-known dishes as the pizza, rolls, and chicken salads.
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From this point, California-style pizza, California roll, and Chinese chicken salad are the results of combining the culinary traditions of the Americans, Chinese people, Japanese people, and Italians (Smith, 2007, p. 85). However, California cuisine is also influenced by the Mexican and Spanish cuisines significantly because of the specific historical events. As a result, California fusion can be discussed as the unique cuisine influenced significantly by such factors as the climate and ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
California is characterized by a diverse climate because the state spreads significantly from the northwest to south. Thus, the dishes made of different sea products are typical for the northern cities of the state, and southern territories develop their culinary traditions while focusing on using many fresh vegetables and fruits.
From this point, the factor of the climate also influences the factor of the products’ availability. The state’s micro-climates are essential for the development of agriculture in the region as well as the citizens’ culinary preferences (Smith, 2007, p. 85-86). That is why, many dishes made in California include artichokes, avocados, tomatoes, and grapes grown in the Californian lands due to the mild Mediterranean climate.
To understand the variety of California fusion cuisine, it is necessary to focus on certain historical events leading to the spread of different cultural impacts within the region. During the 18th century, California cuisine was influenced by the Spanish culinary tradition combined with the Mexican cuisine. As a result, a lot of Mexican products and recipes were borrowed by the citizens of California during the period. Californians became interested in the taste of apples, almonds, beans, chilies, and grapes.
Moreover, Mexican tortillas became the most typical dish in the region. The situation changes in the 19th century as a result of the war between the USA and Mexico. Californians begin to use more local vegetables and adapt the traditional Mexican dishes while adding the non-traditional ingredients to the well-known recipes (Smith, 2007, p. 85-86).
The 20th century is characterized by the most obvious fusion in the Californian cuisine because such prominent dishes as the California-style pizza, California roll, and the Chinese chicken salad appear and become popular with the public. Italian communities inspired the Californian chefs to propose the California-style pizza characterized by the thin crust and unique toppings (Appendix 1).
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The local ingredients, such as fresh garden vegetables and greens, as well as the local sorts of cheese, were chosen to improve the Italian recipe (Hulin, 2007, p. 7-9). The pizza was cooked to have a skinny crust and be full of the toppings made of the Californian local products while ignoring the traditional Italian standards.
The impact of the Asian communities on the California cuisine is also essential because the Californian chefs proposed their variants of the standard rolls and chicken salads while using the local ingredients. The traditional Japanese roll was improved with adding the avocado and using the ‘inside-out’ form when the nori is in the roll instead of covering it. As a result, this dish became extremely popular in the state and around the country (Appendix 2; Smith, 2007, p. 326).
The Chinese chicken salad also became popular among the public in cafes and restaurants because it reflected the Chinese traditions, but it was made of the Californian local products.
The version of the fusion chefs in California contained lettuce, chicken strips, ginger, fried wontons, cabbage, salad greens, and Mandarin orange slices (Appendix 3). However, this mix of products cannot be discussed as typical for the Chinese cuisine, and this salad is mostly the result of the perfect combination of the Chinese and Californian culinary traditions (Aggarwal, 2013, p. 176).
From this point, the particular features of the fusion cuisine typical for California are the focus on the local ingredients, including fresh vegetables and fruits as well as the focus on the recipes from different cultures such as the Italian, Spanish, Mexican, Chinese, and Japanese cultures. California cuisine is the fusion because it is greatly influenced by the various ethnic backgrounds, and it depends on the state’s vivid history.
Appendix 1: California-Style Pizza
The bread flour is mixed with water, salt, oil, and sugar. The dough is formed like a round pizza. The pizza is covered with the tomato sauce and with the toppings made of the roasted chicken, fresh greens, herbs, and garden vegetables are put on the pizza. Cheddar and mozzarella should be added. Eggs are added at the final stage of cooking, before taking the pizza out from the oven (Hulin, 2007, p. 7-8).
Appendix 2: The California roll
The roll is formed from the specially prepared rice. The traditional roll should include avocado as the main ingredient, cucumber, and crab meat. Nori is used to form the stuffing, but it is not used to cover the roll (Smith, 2007, p. 326).
Appendix 3: The Chinese Chicken Salad
To make the dressing, ginger and sesame oil are combined. The chicken breasts should be grilled and then divided into strips. Cold lettuce, chicken, fried wontons, cold onions, cabbage, salad greens, and Mandarin orange slices are combined and mixed with the dressing (Aggarwal, 2013, p. 176).
Aggarwal, U. (2013). America s favorite recipes, part II: The melting pot cuisine. USA: iUniverse.
Hulin, B. (2007). The everything pizza cookbook: 300 crowd-pleasing slices of heaven. USA: Everything Books.
Smith, A. (2007). The Oxford companion to American food and drink. USA: Oxford University Press.