Flavors of California
Flavors of California
Related Articles

Flavors of the USA

All about American cuisine > Flavors of California

California represents the American dream, a tourist destination where you can visit Hollywood film locations, see celebrities and go to beaches. But besides being the number one vacation choice in the United States, California also ranks as the leading state in food production for a number of crops.

Though tourists may rarely consider the agricultural significance of California as a food growing region, the temperate year-round climate and expanses of land provide foods the nation and world have grown to enjoy and count on.

More than half the nation's fruit, nuts, and vegetables come from here. Nationally, products exclusively grown (99% or more) in California include almonds, artichokes, dates, figs, kiwifruit, olives, persimmons, pistachios, prunes, raisins, clovers, and walnuts.

California is the nation's leading producer of strawberries, averaging 1.4 billion pounds annually. Approximately 12% of the crop is exported to Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and Japan primarily. The value of the California strawberry crop is approximately $700 million with related employment of more than 48,000 people.

This is where "New California Cuisine" developed, an adjunct to the California lifestyle centered on pleasure and movement. It is characteized by easily digestible and ultra-fresh foods, such as fruits, vegetables and fish, found here in abundance thanks to the mild sunny climate and proximity to the ocean.

Alice Waters, founder of La Panisse restaurant in Berkeley is considered by her peers to be the founder of the California cuisine movement, and her restaurant remains the high temple in this regard. Her cooking highlights the freshness of ingredients and seasonal products supplied solely by local farms and even the restaurant's own gardens.

Over the decades, other influences have come to enrich the complexity of California cuisine, reflecting the state's ethnic diversity, particularly of the Latin and Asian populations. Soy sauce and hoisin sauce have become stapes, just like the wok which permits flash cooking that preserves products' flavor and nutrients.

New California cuisine has travelled beyond the borders of the US. Everyone is familiar with Caesar salad, romaine with its original dressing, croutons and parmesan; Cobb salad; and the California roll, a kind of sushi with avocado and the seaweed rolled into the center. Often California on a menu signals the presence of avocado.

Flavors of California 1

California is also a major wine producer, with almost 100 wine-growing regions. Napa and Sonoma produce Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The Californian coastal valleys are ideal for producing sweet white German-style wines, while the hot central valley is perfect for heartier wines like Zinfandels and Cabernets.

Flavors of California 2

California's leading export crop is almonds. In fact, the state produces 80% of the world's almonds and ships them to over 90 countries.

Search within the site
Advanced search >
Register free to receive our official newsletter
Sign up
Subscribe to our free RSS feeds:
Get the daily and monthly recipe posts automatically added to your newsreader.
Sign up