Real American Food: 9 Native Noshes from North America

Today, it’s easy enough—even if you’re buying local—to get foods that aren’t necessarily native to the USA at your local retailers. Tomatoes are now grown all over, but they were originally grown only in South America. Olives and almonds are native to Eurasian climates, but you can find them in American grocery stores today. But what if we take a look at what would have truly been local foods hundreds of years ago?


Blueberries are natively grown in the United States, and they still grow wild today. Some of the most famous are wild Maine blueberries, which are tiny and perfect for baking into your favorite baked goods. These Blueberry Muffins use yogurt to add moisture, which we love!


Corn is native to the Americas; in Europe and other parts of the world, they still haven’t developed the same American love of corn on the cob! While we love grilling it plain, for a recipe with a little extra punch, try this Lemon-Garlic Glazed Corn on the Cob.


Potatoes are now loved all over the world, though it took a man named Antoine Parmentier to convince the French that they were edible to humans! The classic French dish of hachis parmentier—similar to cottage pie—is still popular and is named after M. Parmentier. In the Americas, we’ve been eating potatoes for much longer… and not just of the white variety! Potato varieties native to the Americas include all colors and flavors, including sweet potatoes; this yam and sweet potato galette brings out the sweet side of potatoes, but you can even add some white or yellow-fleshed potatoes for a savory side.


Pecans are a nut native to the Americas; combine them with another American classic, bourbon, in a delicious bourbon pecan pie. Pecans don’t have to just be used in a sweet way, however; pecans make a great crust for another food native to North America in this pecan-crusted salmon recipe.


Salmon may not be entirely native to North America, but Pacific Salmon certainly is. Pacific salmon species include chinook, chum, coho, pink and sockeye. Wild Pacific salmon is even more healthy than regular salmon, which is chock full of nutrients, especially omega-3 fatty acids. This horseradish-crusted salmon packs a spicy punch, and our very own salmon Niçoise is perfect for summer!


Turkey is a native of North America, which anyone who studied the first Thanksgiving should know! Turkey can be roasted like any other poultry; it goes very well with sage. For the perfect roast turkey, first check out our guide to turkey, and then try Alton Brown’s turkey recipe, which involves brining the turkey for extra flavor. Be sure to serve it with cranberry sauce!


It’s no coincidence that Thanksgiving turkey is traditionally served with cranberry sauce! Cranberries, after all, are natively grown in North America, especially in the northeast. Cranberries grow in bogs on cranberry vines. The extremely acidic berry is too sour to eat plain, but try them candied, for a glimpse of their sour flavor. Otherwise, try them in a classic pairing, with orange zest, for cranberry-orange sauce.


While there are lots of different seafoods and shellfish that are found all over the world, clams are native to North America. One of the most classic clam recipes is clam chowder: New England clam chowder uses cream, while Manhattan clam chowder is made with a tomato-based broth. Try both, and decide which one you prefer!

Maple syrup

Last but not least, maple syrup. True maple syrup—we’re not talking about that corn syrup dyed to look like it!—has an incomparable flavor that’s perfect for pancakes and waffles… as well as more savory preparations. Glaze salmon or turkey, or even pork chops, with maple glazed pork chops. You can even use it along with sweet potatoes and pecans for an all-American grilled sweet potato steak with maple-pecan butter.

Image: tuchodi

Emily Monaco is a food and culture writer based in Paris. Her work has been featured in the Wall... More about Emily Monaco