I recently got an assignment to write an article about dining out as a vegetarian. I was supposed to focus on “American” restaurants. The longer I thought about it, the murkier the definition became. What exactly is an American restaurant?
Does its kitchen use only ingredients indigenous to the United States? If so, then we are going to have a pretty narrow choice of foods.
Or, does the term include all produce, meat, and fish that is raised in the United States? That certainly expands our options.
How about the Americas — South, Central, and all of North? That opens up our menu even wider.
Or, is an American restaurant one that encompasses the cuisine of the myriad immigrant groups that have come to our shores and made this place their home — places as diverse as Burundi, Brazil, and Belarus?
An interesting factoid: In my research, I found that virtually every so-called American restaurant that does list a vegetarian entrée on its menu chooses Italian. There may be one more (very few restaurants list more than two veggie dishes), but the default seems to be pasta.