California cuisine is known as a stylish genre of cooking that is growing in reputation. Many people have heard the term before, but few can define just what it means. In the same way California is a mixture of many cultures, so too is its cuisine. At a simple level, California cuisine comes from local and organic food that is cooked using many different spices and techniques found all over the world.
California has a lengthy history of immigration and the food found there echos decades of cultural integration. Because of the state’s diversified background, California cuisine is actually a fusion of food from around the globe. For example, because California was a part of Mexico until 1848, its food continues to mirror Mexican and Spanish traditions. Additionally, the Gold Rush and the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad drew several Chinese immigrants to the area who have influenced the flavors found in food on the West coast. Recently, the flock of hippies to San Francisco in the 1960s localized popular food movements, such as vegetarianism, along with the philosophy of peace and love. One last and crucial component to California cuisine is the use of French cooking approaches. This is because many cooks that champion California cuisine went to culinary school in France. California cuisine remains inspired by all of these elements and the food is a mixture of ingredients and flavors.
When defining a cooking style as diverse as California cuisine, you will need to note the common thread is the preference to use fresh ingredients. Since California soil can support different types of food, one rarely has to look far for seasonal produce. This constant availability of local ingredients creates endless menu options. Furthermore, the cuisine is marked by the use of organic produce and animals raised without hormone injections or antibiotics. Finally, the popularity of vegetarianism is significantly reflected in California cuisine to satisfy its health and wellbeing aware population. At its best, California cuisine is a celebration of fresh, sustainable, and healthy food.
Core foods in California cuisine are avocadoes, citrus fruits, herbs, seafood, and tofu. Meat and Chicken are popular proteins, with lamb and pork occurring less regularly. Cooking techniques involve cooking the food fast on a grill or stove in order to maintain color and freshness. Presentation and physical appearance of the food are essential factors of the cuisine. A traditional instance of California cuisine is the California roll offered in many sushi restaurants. These rolls contain crab meat, cucumber, and avocado wrapped in nori (seaweed) and rice. Countless diners have tried California rolls before venturing out to try other, more exotic food.
Alice Waters is long thought to be the guardian of California cuisine. Her restaurant, Chez Panisse, has set a high bar for the movement since the 1970s. Another famous chef who made California cuisine more mainstream is Wolfgang Puck. These chefs and their restaurants are magnificent examples of the variety one can accomplish using local and seasonal ingredients. Due to the increasing desire to eat fresh and local ingredients, California cuisine is here to stay.