Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

wht do Americans eat at home

What do Americans eat at home with their families?

Do they always eat hamburgers, french fries, and heavy junk food?

Everyone is different.

Lindsay likes to eat vegetarian black bean chile, salads with kale and avocado, and other light dishes for dinner. 

Today we are going to try to answer a question from a listener. Here is the question:

“Thanks for the information in your email. I really appreciate it, and have got some ideas about meals in the restaurants in the city. Now could you please focus more on what people eat/cook at home? 🙂 From movies and TV series we also see you guys very often make and eat sandwiches at home. Thanksgiving meals seem more complex, but those are for special occasions. We’ve been wondering, in your day-to-day life, generally, what do Americans cook and eat at home? I’m sure as you said there’s still much cultural variety, so you may focus more on the typical American families if possible. I’m a big fan of your All Ears English podcast and have been following you guys for about 2 years (or more ^_^). You and Michelle make such a fun and lovely team, and I’m sure it’d be super fun to hear you two talk about this topic in your unique style. :)”- Sophie


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What is American food?

It’s so hard to say what is American because the US is such a mix of different cultures, but you find a lot of that variety when you dine out at restaurants.

However, more and more now you can order Indian food or any other international food through Foodler or another food home delivery service or you can order take out and go into the restaurant and carry it out.

We could throw out some dishes that seem American but this is much too shortsighted and almost stereotypical.

I remember some of my students in NY said when they arrived in the US they would buy a candy bar to feel like they were eating something American, but I don’t remember the last time I ate a typical American candy bar.

Many Americans do not eat the junk food that you see them eating on TV.

Today we’re going to break down the American diet by region.


The Southern United States:

This area includes the “deep south” like Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana, and Alabama.

It also includes the coastal south like Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and the Appalachian region like Tennessee and Kentucky and West Virginia.

I just came back from Nashville, Tennessee and in Nashville they call their diet “Soul Food.”

What is “Soul Food” or southern food?

  • Cornbread
  • grits= breakfast or dinner food made from corn that is ground into a coarse meal and then boiled.
  • Fried chicken
  • barbecue
  • Whiskey
  • Bourbon (Kentucky)
  • Country ham (Virginia)
  • Sweet potato pie 
  • Louisiana- Creole food, Jambalaya



This area includes Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Indiana, etc.

  • Meat and potatoes
  • Miner’s food like “pasties.” These are meat pies with a bread crust on the outside that miners could take with them for days into the mines.
  • German and Scandinavian food like Sauerkraut and Bratwurst is common in this region due to the large portions of the population being immigrant communities from Scandinavia and Germany.
  • Chicago has an amazing food culture. They have a lot of new breweries. They also have celebrity chefs, and modern and experimental food concepts (mostly in restaurants).


New England:

This region includes Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine.

  • Seafood- cod, salmon, haddock, clam cakes and clam chowder (pronounced “chowdaa” with the local Boston accent)
  • Lobster- It’s famous in Maine because the water is so cold, but all over coastal New England you can get great Lobster Rolls if you ask the locals where to go. The best lobster rolls are usually available in small seafood shacks and not at the fancy restaurants.
  • Maple syrup- tapping trees in Northern New England states like Vermont and New Hampshire is common. People will buy the real, locally made maple syrup from the grocery store and have pancake breakfasts on the weekends.
  • Berry pies- There is a lot of blueberry picking in Maine. People make blueberry pies and strawberry rhubarb pie. 
  • Apple pie- People love to go apple picking in the fall in New England and they use the apples to make Apple Pie for Thanksgiving.


New York City:

  • Delis- sandwiches at lunch time
  • Experimental and forward- thinking restaurants
  • New Yorkers do a lot of take-out and eating out at restaurants because their lives are so busy


California and West Coast:

  • Meals in restaurants and prepared at home have lots of fruits and vegetables. There is a big health and fitness culture.
  • Salads, avocados
  • Mexican influence- tacos, lots of spices
  • Cobb salads


Most importantly, when you are in the United States don’t just eat out at fancy restaurants.

Try a diner to get a true American dining experience and try Couchsurfing so that you can maybe eat with a local at home!

Go here to learn more about the different regions and what they eat.


What questions do you have from today?

Let us know in the comments below.

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