iOS app Android app

American Food Roots
GET UPDATES FROM American Food Roots
American Food Roots is a digital publication telling the nation's food stories state by state. We give you the stories behind the recipes, and seek to understand why we eat what we eat.

Entries by American Food Roots

Faux Pho Can't Compare to the Real Thing

(0) Comments | Posted March 2, 2015 | 9:09 AM


In the beginning, there was only chicken soup. It was the answer to most questions involving the common cold, inclement weather and general well-being. Then, the world became a smaller place and Vietnamese pho became as American as chicken soup.

The long-simmering, aromatic...

Read Post

When the Congressional Mess Was a Boarding House

(0) Comments | Posted October 29, 2014 | 9:38 AM

Before Congress was a mess, it had a mess -- as in a mess hall. Like today's members of Congress who share dumpy Capitol Hill row houses, 19th century lawmakers bunked in boarding houses. Historian and AFR contributor Amanda Moniz tells all.

Read Post

Sorghum Syrup Revived by Accidental Artisans

(0) Comments | Posted October 20, 2014 | 12:46 PM

Sweet, earthy sorghum was once a staple of the Southern cupboard. Today, it's being revived by thumbs-in-the-suspenders farmers who find themselves accidental artisans. American Food Roots co-founder Michele Kayal tells the story.


On a recent Saturday morning, Danny Ray Townsend stood...

Read Post

Pawpaws: America's New Artisanal Fruit

(0) Comments | Posted September 29, 2014 | 10:27 AM

American Food Roots managing editor Bonny Wolf gets up close and personal with pawpaws, an alluring American fruit with a pedigree that involves luminaries from George Washington to the Hatfields and McCoys.


The other night, under cover of dark, I...

Read Post

Foraging for the Past

(0) Comments | Posted September 22, 2014 | 11:10 AM

Every mom is embarrassing. But Kara Flynn's used to forage for dandelions outside her junior high school. Casey Brand tells the story.

The recent foraging trend is nothing new to Kara Flynn. She spent her childhood reluctantly foraging for blackberries, dandelion greens and cardoons with her mother Mary Louise Gerlach. Similarly, Gerlach recalls her own father foraging for a variety of plants.

Try this recipe for Dandelion-pumpkin seed pesto.

Flynn attributes her family's love of foraging to their Sicilian roots. Foraging still plays a significant, if reduced, role in Italian culture, especially in rural areas. Foraged ingredients such as dandelion greens and wild mushrooms are dinner table staples in some parts of the country.

Increasingly, chefs in the U.S are putting foraged ingredients on their menus. They are following Chef René Redzepi who popularized the practice at Noma, his restaurant in Copenhagen, Denmark. Since earning two Michelin stars in 2008, the restaurant's use of local and seasonal foraged ingredients has captured the culinary world's attention.

The foraging trend is not limited to restaurant kitchens. From Los Angeles' Sunset Boulevard to New York's Central Park, foraging tours are becoming popular attractions for both tourists and locals. Led by an experienced guide, these tours teach would-be foragers how to identify wild plants. Urban dwellers across America forage for food under street lamps and stairwells.

Foraging, by its nature, is highly dependent on season and location. A forager in West Virginia might find a plethora of ramps, while someone in Vermont might instead stumble upon morel mushrooms. In Louisiana, pokeweed is a common find.

In the nooks and crannies of even the most crowded city, a wealth of wild ingredients waits to be discovered - and collected.

-- Text by Casey Brand

- Video by Daniel...

Read Post

Oy Vey! Look Who Brought Capers to Philly

(0) Comments | Posted September 15, 2014 | 11:25 AM


South Philly is well known for its Italian food. But turns out Italians may not have been the first to bring the Mediterranean diet to the city. AFR contributor Amanda Moniz tells all.

When I was in graduate school researching...

Read Post

Wisconsin Students Know Their Meat

(0) Comments | Posted September 10, 2014 | 10:28 AM

Some students work at burger joints. Others are library assistants. But at the University of Wisconsin, food-inclined scholars have a better option.


To help pay for the semester's books or a weekend night out, many American college students hold down jobs at...

Read Post

Catfish Fry Carries Family Across Many Miles

(1) Comments | Posted July 7, 2014 | 11:55 AM

Before Laura Houston Santhanam's great-grandfather died, his family made him a promise. Who knew they'd keep it with catfish?

For decades, generations of my family gathered over plates piled high with freshly fried, farm-raised fare at catfish houses scattered across northeast Mississippi to make good on a...

Read Post

Afghan Cooking Comes Home

(0) Comments | Posted June 16, 2014 | 5:22 PM

League of Kitchens brings Americans to the immigrant table (via American Food Roots)

Nawida Saidhosin promised we'd get to hear her love story. But first, we'd need to...

Read Post

Why Switchel Is Better Than Energy Drinks

(0) Comments | Posted June 3, 2014 | 2:47 PM

Switchel comes back to slake our thirst (via American Food Roots)

Most people these days reach for a sports drink or "smart" water after a good workout or...

Read Post

Maya Angelou Was Also a Poet in the Kitchen

(0) Comments | Posted May 29, 2014 | 2:52 PM

(via American Food Roots)

Many people know Maya Angelou as a poet, civil rights activist and revealer of why caged birds sing. What fewer know about Angelou, who died yesterday...

Read Post

Chef Erik Bruner-Yang Serves Noodles With a Story

(0) Comments | Posted May 23, 2014 | 4:56 PM

Chef Erik Bruner-Yang serves noodles with a story (via American Food Roots)

Erik Bruner-Yang, 28. watched his Taiwanese mother and grandparents cook, and it made an impression. He...

Read Post

Grandfather's Italian Pepper Seeds Take Root in America

(1) Comments | Posted May 22, 2014 | 10:27 AM

Grandfather’s Italian pepper seeds take root in America (via American Food Roots)

When my grandfather immigrated to the United States in 1912, he carried only a few lira,...

Read Post

Soulard Farmers Market is a St. Louis Rite of Spring

(0) Comments | Posted May 20, 2014 | 11:50 AM

Soulard Farmers Market is a St. Louis rite of spring (via American Food Roots)

While I was growing up in St. Louis in the 1960s, my mother established...

Read Post

Fish Eggs: Spring's Most Delicious Dish

(0) Comments | Posted May 14, 2014 | 2:13 PM

Welcoming the first roes of spring (via American Food Roots)

I walked up to the seafood counter at my local market this week and there they were: fat,...

Read Post

Food and Wine Chef Cory Bahr Talks Collards, Camp Food and Duck Dynasty

(0) Comments | Posted May 12, 2014 | 1:16 PM

Chop Talk: Cory Bahr urges small-town food stops (via American Food Roots)

It makes Cory Bahr angry when people blow through the small cities of the South on...

Read Post

29 Must-have Ballpark Foods

(1) Comments | Posted May 7, 2014 | 3:30 PM

Major-league ball parks score with local foods (via American Food Roots)

Every major league baseball park has popcorn, peanuts and Cracker Jack. Now, however, there are also regional...

Read Post

Aaron Sanchez: Do Cinco de Mayo Like a Mexican

(0) Comments | Posted May 5, 2014 | 4:40 PM

Chop Talk: Aarón Sánchez on Cinco de Mayo (via American Food Roots)

Cinco de Mayo is more than an excuse to drink margaritas. And it is not --...

Read Post