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Shrimp tostadas made with locally grown ingredients as served at Tacos Sinaloa in Oakland, California.

The cuisine of California is the local cuisine of the U.S. state of California.

Contents

Local ingredients

Restaurant cuisine may make greater use of ingredients less common outside of California. Some locally grown produce products that are less common in other parts of the country include:

A Mediterranean climate and popular health-conscious diets and lifestyles in California promote the production, use and consumption of fresh fruits, vegetables and organic foods. Use of fresh, local ingredients which are often acquired daily at farmers markets is very common in California. Battered and fried foods are not as common in California as they may be in other states, however exceptions include fish tacos, tempura, and french fries.

California's Central Valley region agricultural success and diversity provides fresh produce throughout the state and on less than 1 percent of the total farmland in the United States, the Central Valley produces 8 percent of the nation's agricultural output by value.

Sandwiches, burgers, and fast food

An In-N-Out "Double-Double" cheeseburger with french fries in a cardboard box for consumption inside an automobile.

California is the original home of fast-food chains such as McDonald's, Del Taco, Original Tommy's and Fatburger.

Southern California's legendary car culture and the population's reliance on automobiles for transportation throughout California's massive cities, has widely contributed to the popularity of the classic and modern drive-thru restaurant. Restaurant chains such Jack in the Box, In-N-Out Burger, Carl's Jr., and Big Boy were all established in Southern California and are cultural institutions.

Regional fast food menus differ, generally depending on the ethnic composition of an area. In Southern California, smaller chains like Jim's, The Hat, Baker's, Tom's, Tam's, Tommy's, and Rick's feature hamburgers, Mexican food, chili fries, pastrami, and occasionally, teriyaki or fried chicken.

While gastropubs are not unique to California, the concept of the gourmet burger is very popular.

Mexican and Central American influences

Carne asada fries from El Chilé in south San Diego, California.

Due to California's colonial Spanish roots, Mexican territorial history, and its original population consisting of Meso-Americans, Spanish colonizers and Mexican ranchers, Mexican and Spanish-origin cuisine is very influential and popular in California, particularly Southern California.

Commercial, quick "taco shop-style" Mexican fast-food, consisting of offerings such as burritos, refried beans, tortas, tacos, nachos, quesadillas and carne asada fries is widely popular. Countless Taco shops can be found throughout California.

Traditional Mexican food, while not as common as commercial food, is still widely prepared and abundant in the ethnic Mexican American border communities of San Diego, the Los Angeles metropolitan area, and in Mexican American enclaves throughout Southern California. Examples of these foods include tamales, tortillas, tostadas, mole, menudo, pozole, sopes, chile relleno and enchiladas.

In addition to Mexican food, California restaurants serve up Honduran, Oaxacan and nearly every other variation of Central American food there is. For example, pupuserías are common in areas with a large population of Salvadorans (pupusas are stuffed tortillas from El Salvador).

More recently, "Fresh Mex" or "Baja-style" Mexican food, which places an emphasis on fresh ingredients and sometimes seafood, inspired by Baja California fare, is highly popular. El Pollo Loco, a fast food chain that originated in Northern Mexico, is a common sight. Rubio's Fresh Mexican Grill, Baja Fresh, Wahoo's Fish Taco, Chipotle, Qdoba and La Salsa are examples of the Baja-style Mexican American food trend.

Shellfish, and seafood

Dungeness crab ready to eat at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco

In Northern California and the Central Coastal region, Dungeness crabs, salmon, striped bass, and oysters are abundant in season.

Asian and Oceanian influences

As one of the U.S. states nearest Asia and Oceania, and with long-standing Asian American and Oceanian American populations, the state tends to adopt foods from those national styles. The American sushi craze no doubt began in California; the term 'California roll' is used to describe sushi with avocado as a primary ingredient. These days, items like mochi ice cream and boba are popular.

Fusion cuisine

Fusion cuisine is quite popular in California.[1] The emphasis of California Cuisine is on the use of fresh, local ingredients which are often acquired daily at farmers markets. Menus are changed to accommodate the availability of ingredients in season. Some restaurants create a new menu daily.

Californian chef Wolfgang Puck is known as one of the pioneers of fusion cuisine, popularizing such dishes as Chinese chicken salad at the restaurant Ma Maison. His restaurant "Chinois" was named after the term attributed to Richard Wing, who in the 1960s combined French and Chinese cooking at the former Imperial Dynasty restaurant in Hanford, California.[2]

Barbecue

Barbecue has been a part of California cuisine since the Mexicans cooked beef in pit barbecues on ranches in the 1840s. Santa Maria is famous for the Tri-tip, a special kind of beef cut that can be grilled, baked, braised, or roasted. California's barbecue style is also influenced by the regional Southwestern American styles of Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma. Chicken, beef ribs, sausages, and steaks are also routinely grilled or smoked in a pit. The barbecue sauce used in this state is tomato-based, as with all other western states. Pork baby back ribs are popular for barbecue in the Western region in comparison to the popular use of spare ribs in the Southern United States.

See also

References

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