what to cook for your Danish host family that wants to experience *real* American food

During my first week abroad, I found out that my host sisters had never tried American Mac n Cheese.  Upon discovering this shocking information, I offered to cook Mac n’ Cheeses for my host family. Long story short, the Mac ‘n Cheese was a hit. They loved it (despite the alarming amount of cheese– for a Dane). Because of this success, I offered to make “American” food once a week. 

I was proud of my great cooking idea for about a week. When the day I was scheduled to cook for my host family arrived, I realized I had utterly no idea what American food even was. (It is shocking and possibly embarrassing that I am admitting to such inner thoughts). Back home, I cook any food that strikes me in that moment as appealing – Mexican, Italian, Chinese, Korean, etc. Somehow, the idea of “American” food baffled me to my core. Because of my apparent lack of knowledge, I scoured the internet for answers. 

In case you are like me and have no idea what homemade American food is, I have curated a list of (successful) food that I have cooked for my Danish host family (as found on the internet). 

  1. Mac n Cheese (This is my favorite recipe. It is particularly cheesy, making it that much more of a thrilling experience to witness others take their first bite of mac n cheese)
  2. Pulled Pork Sandwiches 
  3. Chicken Nuggets
  4. Breakfast for Dinner aka Fried Chicken and Waffles
  5. Chocolate Chip Cookies
  6. Strawberry Shortcake
  7. Barbecue Chicken
Homemade Sushi!
Breakfast for Dinner!

After cooking all of these meals, I started realizing that most American food originates in culinary cultural fusion, which is why I had so much difficulty finding American food recipes. Once I eliminated my stress of cooking something *only* American, and instead focused on the types of food I eat all the time where I fused American culture with others, I started cooking some more fun meals that are very common at American dinner tables. I thought about the typical food I ate, instead of meals that people *thought* were American. Here is a list of my favorite American foods that take influence from other cultures and highlight American diversity. 

  1. Chicken Quesadillas 
  2. Homemade Sushi
  3. Guacamole
  4. Parmesan Chicken
  5. Crunch Wrap Tacos
  6. Nachos

Some of my favorite recipes come from the New York Times Cooking Section and AllRecipes! My family recipes were also a hit! Make sure to convert your recipe into the metric system!!! (I accidentally made wayyy too much macaroni and cheese). I suggest getting creative, but also reflecting on what you have eaten both in your childhood and at your home university. There are subtle differences in how meals are cooked, so no matter what you cook for them, I’m sure it will be a new experience for everyone. 

Have fun cooking for your host family!

Millie and I are at the dinner table drinking tea after a meal.

Xoxo,

Dani

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