8 'Culturally Appropriated' Foods That Are Actually American

Not long ago, actress Lena Dunham made headlines when she supported students from her alma mater, Oberlin College, who were upset that the school cafeteria was “culturally appropriating” sushi. Huh? The group accused the dining hall of disrespecting foreign cuisines. But food was meant to be enjoyed, wasn’t it? And one could hardly expect that a college cafeteria would be serving authentic ethnic dishes, anyway. At least that wasn’t the case when I was in college. Since America is known for “fusion,” why all the drama?

It turns out that there are several well-known dishes that one would think originated in other countries and cultures, but that were actually conceived of right here in the USA. As Fox News explains, you probably wouldn’t have even guessed some of them:

1. The California Roll

This “sushi staple” was created in North America. “Japanese chef Hidekazu Tojo studied the craft of sushi making in Osaka before immigrating to Vancouver, Canada in 1971. Tojo realized that most Westerners did not eat raw fish or enjoy the taste of seaweed. The chef told The Globe and Mail that he “made the roll inside out. People loved it…'”

2. German Chocolate Cake

This dessert gem actually hails from Texas. Dallas to be exact. “The recipe for a layered cake topped with coconut-pecan frosting was invented by Mrs. George Clay…who used German’s sweeter chocolate to create the new treat. She called it ‘German’s Chocolate Cake’ after the man who made it all possible.”

3. Cuban Sandwiches

This one was a surprise to me. While it wasn’t created in Cuba, it still originated not far from the island: “This souped-up ham and cheese sandwich originated in the late 1800s in Key West, Ybor City, Tampa Bay, Fla., where many Cuban immigrants lived.”

4. Fortune Cookies

Quite a few people throughout the U.S. claim to have created this treat over the years. One indisputable fact is that it can be found in Chinese takeout everywhere. (See the video above for a hilarious new take on fortune cookie fortunes.)

5. Tortilla Chips

The chip’s creator, Rebecca Webb Carranza, was Mexican. But she and her husband had a restaurant in Los Angeles “and when the tortillas would come out ripped or stale, the creative cooks would cut the misshapen tortillas up and fry them, instead of throwing them out and wasting food.”

6. Pizza

“Originally created as a food for the poor in 18th century Naples, Italy, the pizza added inexpensive tomato and mozzarella to their bread. The pizza was first introduced to the U.S. in the 19th century by Italian immigrants in Chicago, Boston, and New York City.”

7. Pasta

We’ve probably all heard that pasta is originally from Asia, and not Italy. “While archeologists believe noodle-like products were first invented in Asia, pasta was actually first introduced in America by Spanish settlers in the 18th Century– not Italians.”

8. Hot Dogs

Of course we all thought that Germany could lay claim to our beloved ballpark treat. “While eating the sausage with bread was a common German tradition, according to hot dog historian Bruce Kraig at Roosevelt University, the American hot dog was an integration created by many European sausage butchers.”