The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Nineteen — Food, a different perspective of The USA, Ana María Camelo Vega

The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Nineteen — Food, a different perspective of The USA, Ana María Camelo Vega

Living over two months in the USA allows me to see a different perspective of the country, and how many issues are involved and developed in the inside. Indeed, diverse aspects, including food, clothing, recreation, government and politics, education, language, religion, transportation, economy, environment and finally, culture and arts, can define and determine in an accurate way what American culture is all about.

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Talking about the food, it is pretty difficult to define American food, as it may be really expansive. It is certainly true that American culture has some typical dishes, but it can be said that it is a melting pot of different cultures as well. Nevertheless, even though you face different and diverse types of food, I can truly say that there is a kind of American essence in it. Additionally, something that I have experienced is that the American culture is an “immediate” culture in the sense that for most of the time people want their food to be quick, convenient and cheap. This can be explained by the fact that American culture prefers in a significant way fast and easy things. In words of John Ikerd, “The characteristics of America’s dominant food culture are cost, convenience, and appearance.” In the same way, it is important to take into account the size’s perceptions. I have noticed how the portion size of any kind of food is significantly distorted, as the ‘normal’ portion is notably big to the eye.

All these aspects generate the worldwide known “American culture”, which is different in significant ways to the Latin American culture, where I come from. For such matters, it turns to be really interesting to analyze the consequences that food may have in the development of a country and its own culture.


For all of the North Star Project 2013-2014 Reports, see

For all of the North Star Project 2013 Summer Reports, see

The North Star Project: Collaboration between The Middle Ground Journal Student Interns, The College of St. Scholastica, and North Star Academy 8th Grade Global Studies Classes, 2013-2014 School Year Reports.

Under the leadership of our North Star host teachers and student interns, The North Star Project has flourished for two years. For a brief summary, please see a recent article in the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

Having re-tooled and re-designed the collaborative program, we are drawing on the experience of our veteran student interns, ideas from our host teachers, and new projects provided by our incoming student interns. This school year The Middle Ground Journal will share brief dispatches from our North Star Project student interns, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. As of the time of this report we have confirmed student interns who will be reporting from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing presentations on theatrical representations of historical trauma, historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and different perceptions of current events from around the world.  We will post their brief dispatches here, and report on their interactions with the North Star students and teachers throughout the school year.

Hong-Ming Liang, Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA, 2013-2014 School Year

(c) 2013 The Middle Ground Journal, Number 7, Fall, 2013. See Submission Guidelines page for the journal’s not-for-profit educational open-access policy.


Filed under Ana Maria Camelo Vega, North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang

5 responses to “The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Nineteen — Food, a different perspective of The USA, Ana María Camelo Vega

  1. Brianna Curtis

    This is a clear example of how “American” is different than what people portray it as. American culture and it’s food are influenced by so many other cultures. Indian, Vietnamese, Mexican, and so many other cultures make up our cuisine. It’s an interesting idea.

  2. Tayler

    Would you say that, in your experience, “American” food follows or defies the typically stereotypes? You mentioned portion size and fast food, which I would say are considered stereotypes of the U.S. but you also said that it is hard to define what is American food is. What stereotypes did you have about American food before coming here?

  3. I don’t think that two months is really enough time to get a well balanced perspective on the range of foods Americans eat. It is true that fast food and curb side pick-up orders are the convenience meals for too many people and families on the go but thankfully there are folks who still like to cook. From Rocky Mountain Oysters in the West to sweet potato candy and homemade noodles in the South, the stick to your ribs meat and potato meals of the Midwest and everything in between America’s food landscape is diverse. Stick around for another year, travel the back roads, sit down to dinner with farm families and check out the Kathmandu Nepali Indian Restaurant in Nederland, CO. Not everyone likes Big Macs and french fries.

  4. Rachel Studley

    American food is definitely a melting pot of different cultures, just like the country itself. The US is big country and every single region is going to have different staples of their cuisine. Just like accents/dialects in the language people speak.

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