Incredible Breakfast Trends

A Culinary Melting Pot

Our United States of America was created by people who came from every corner of the planet. We arrived with different cultures, religions, attitudes and customs, yet somehow came together as one nation.

One thing that binds us is an appreciation for our myriad cuisines. Gone are the days of 1950s sitcom mothers sailing through kitchen doors with platters of pot roast and potatoes. We’re far more likely to see pizza, tacos or stir-fry on today’s dinner plates. This change from the 20th century ideal of meat and potatoes dinners crept up on us. It began with the bohemian idea of pizza for a special dinner treat and evolved into ordering huevos rancheros for breakfast.

How did this happen? The immigrants who helped create this country could bring little with them but their cuisines. As Marcel Proust once observed, when nothing is left to us of our past, smell still remains, and if we get a whiff of a long-forgotten smell, we are suddenly intoxicated. It seems certain then that the smells of familiar cooking helped soothe those who’d left everything behind to begin a new life in an unknown land.

Perhaps due to easy availability of dining diversity, we now view ourselves as adventurous diners. The National Restaurant Association (NRA) says that 64 percent of us consider ourselves to be more adventurous in our away-from-home food choices than just two years ago. That increases to 77 percent among Millennials, who now account for 25 percent of the U.S. population as our largest demographic group.

Purists may demand only authentic dishes like a breakfast of North African shakshuka made of eggs poached in tomato sauce spiced with chili peppers, onions and cumin. But a major consumer trend is toward fusion, whether that’s salsa on an omelet, chorizo on pizza or sriracha in a burrito. This is the essence of New American cuisine.

New American is the catchall term for any cuisine that defies categorization, according to Phil Vettel, the Chicago Tribune restaurant critic. Loosely defined, New American is understood to mix ingredients or treatments from two or more cuisines to create a dish in a way that can’t be labeled as a recognizable cuisine. That’s a most apt reflection of our melting-pot culture and certainly gives chefs a license to exercise creativity.

To illustrate, currently menued breakfast examples of New American dishes include:

  • Double Awesome: two poached eggs with soft golden yolks, homemade pesto and Vermont Cheddar in a scallion pancake with a side of spicy ketchup (Mei Mei, Boston)
  • Steak n’ Eggs: ash-rubbed steak with house potatoes, roasted tomato, shishito peppers & two eggs (Red Cow, Minneapolis/St. Paul)
  • Yolko Moono: shaved ribeye, provolone, fried egg smothered in chipotle lime hollandaise on a brioche bun (You Crack Me Up, Buffalo, NY)
  • Huevos Rancheros: crawfish étouffée topped with two fried tostadas, another layer of étouffée followed by eggs, pico de gallo, queso fresca, lime crema and fresh guacamole (Rex 1516, Philadelphia)
  • Heritage Poached Eggs: with fried oysters, collards and red curry hollandaise (Minton’s, NYC)
  • Asian Pork Frittata: herbs, Gruyere, Chinese pork sausage (The Cecil, Harlem)
  • Chilaquiles Benedict: barbacoa beef served on a stack of ranchero-sauced tortillas and melted cheese, topped with poached eggs, roasted poblano hollandaise, pico de gallo and cotija cheese (Snooze Eatery, Denver)

At this point there exists very little in the way of items from food manufacturers fitting this description, but that is likely to change soon, as interest in fusion food has been with us for decades. Back in 1994, peer-reviewed research was published in Hospitality Review with the title Cross-Cultural Cuisine: Long-Term Trend or Short-Lived Fad. The authors concluded that not only was fusion cuisine not a fad, but named it an enduring trend that was expected to become routine. How right they were!

Just as our melting pot of citizens is what makes us all Americans, the cuisines we brought with us are what have led to the cuisine called New American.


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