Food Culture in San Francisco


When people move around the world, they try different dishes that arecommon in the destinations they choose. Hotels employ professionalchefs who can prepare dishes associated with different communities.While people might be eager to eat foreign dishes, they are alwayscomfortable with the foods that are prevalent in their home countries(Ember et al., 2014). Therefore, they are fond of places that preparedishes that they have enjoyed in the past. Also, local residents trydifferent dishes associated with different countries. Hotels thathave rich menus attract a large number of travelers. San Francisco isa model city in the United States, which is hailed for its responsivehotels that offer varied dishes from across the world.

San Francisco is famous for its food trends that depict the cultureof different people in the world. It is the home of Ron Siegel, thefirst and only American chef to win the Iron Chef Competition in 1999(Hartman, 2002). The City offers 3, 489 hotels. With its huge percapita income, investors target the area to establish eateries withunique menus. San Francisco lies on 47 square miles, and apart fromits beautiful sceneries, the city is the home of 300 hotels that havewon the coveted stars in the hospitality industry (Hartman, 2002).The hotels are on the forefront of preparing European dishes, Chinesecuisines, fusions and exotic greens among others.

Why San Francisco has a Wide Range of Food Offers

The location of San Francisco predisposes it to a wide range ofingredients. Walker and Walker (2012) agree that preparing a greatdish requires having access to the right ingredients. The NorthCalifornia Bounty offers a variety of fruits, vegetables and seafoodfrom the local waters. The local farms also provide the food marketwith poultry products, hormone-free beef, and lamb from the nearbyranches (Walker &amp Walker, 2012).

Besides, the city having an adequate supply of raw materials fromthe farms and the waters, the local people and the visitors areobsessed with quality. The consumers set the bar high for the hotelsto provide quality and competitive dishes that satisfy theirexpectations. Consequently, the hotels have earned many awards, andthey have earned the attention of food critics. According to the 2015Michelin Guide to San Francisco, four restaurants havethree stars, six have two stars and 30 have earned one star. TheSlanted Door is a model example of an award winning Hotel. It baggedthe James Beard Foundation Award for OutstandingRestaurant in the United States. The Entertainment and SportsProgramming Network (ESPN) describes the city as the home of thecountry’s best Burrito and Pizza.

Types of Food in San Francisco

The big number of hotels provides clients with a wide range ofdishes. The chefs prepare virtually any diet from around the world.However, the most common types of food that make San Francisco famousinclude the Chinese, Italian and Mexican food.

Chinese Food in San Francisco

Chinese food includes various components originating from thedifferent regions of China. The Chinese cuisine stretches back tothousands of years, but it has slightly changed over the years due tothe introduction of various ingredients. According to Feldmann(2006), San Francisco is the home for the pioneers and oldestChinatown, and it harbors a big population of the Chinese community.Also, the location of the city enables the hotels to access therequired ingredients for preparing the Chinese food. These reasonsmake it a hub for Chinese food. For most of the American citizens,Chinese food conjures an immediate image of the dishes enjoyed by thepeople in the east (Jayasanker, 2008).

Traditionally, the Chinese people perceived and associated Chinesedishes with a humble bowl of rice and vegetables. While this is trueto the traditional Chinese diet, the chefs in the different hotelshave mastered the art of presenting the Chinese dishes in a modernway that have evolved through the invention of different ingredientsand methods of presentation. According to Jayasanker (2008), SanFrancisco was a pioneer city in the adoption of Chinese food in theUnited States. In the 19th century, several restaurants in the citytried out the Chinese dishes and the positive responses that they gotfrom the clients allowed them to widen the scope of their menus.

In the 19th century, a big number of Chinese immigrants found movedto the United States to look for better job opportunities.Traditionally, the Chinese have been known to be strict with theirdiet, and they are averse to most of the foods that do not reflectcomponents of their traditional diet. Therefore, their presenceprompted hotels to introduce chow-chow and they attracted most of theChinese (Roberts, 2004). Gradually, the locals began visiting theChinese restaurants, and this led to the specialization on Chinesediet by various hotels.

The big number of hotels has a long list in their menu. However,specific hotels have particular diets for which Chinese, the nativesand other international citizens know them. For example, the R &ampGlounge, that has been operational since 1935, stands out as the bestChinese hotel in San Francisco. Its main dishes include the salt andpepper crab and Chinese seafood. Also, the House of Nanking, thatsits on the border of Chinatown and North Beach, has been welcomingclients from various parts of the world every year. The hotel’scrispy honey beef and sizzling rice makes it iconic in Chinatown.Other hotels that offer Chinese food include Z&ampY, Mission ChineseFood, Noe Valley, Shanghai Dumpling King, Hong Kong Lounge anda YankSing among others (Coe, 2009). The dishes that are common in theChinese hotels in the city include stinky tofu with pork intestines,lion’s head meatball, loosely Sichuan, spicy beef tendon, chickenwith explosive chili pepper and spicy Mao Pao (Coe, 2009).

Mexican Food in San Francisco

The Mexican food, popularly known as Tex-Mex cuisine, originatedhundreds of years ago as a mixture of Spanish and Mexican flavors.According to Diana Kennedy, an expert in culinary, the Mexican foodstarted gaining popularity in the United States in the early 1970s(Feldmann, 2006). However, the Tex-Mex, just like the Chinese food,has never been integrated into the mainstream American dishes. Sinceit is not part of the American traditional diet, it can only be foundin hotels that offer Mexican diets. San Francisco gained popularityfor preparing Mexican foods, as the Mexican immigrants who hadentered the country in hoards became regular visitors.

In San Francisco, the Mexican have been wrapping a tortilla aroundmeat pies and eating it. Slaves in the United States first introducedthe idea (Feldmann, 2006). However, it was not until after thecommercialization of Mexican food that tortilla became a delicacy inthe United States. The hotels began preparing the authentic Mexicanfood and attracted a large number of Mexicans in the country(Feldmann, 2006).

However, there have various stereotypical beliefs about the Mexicanfood. Before the Americans fully accepted the Mexican food, andduring its formative years of commercialization, the Americansthought it to be dirty. According to Short et al. (2007), theydescribe the Mexican food trucks as roach cockroaches. However, theprofessional presentation of the food in the Mexican hotels changedthe negative attitude. Although its consumption is not as high asthat of the American food, the number of natives walking into Mexicanrestaurants remains high.

Some of the most popular Mexican hotels include Nopalita that ispreferred by many for its freshly made corn tortillas. Visitors alsofrequent Lolo, which is located on the eccentric 22nd street to enjoyhello, panko and avocado tacos. Others include Padrecito, Sabrosa,Comal, Copita and La Urbana (Short et al., 2007).

Italian Food in San Francisco

Italian food stands out in San Francisco for its unique culinarytradition. The adoption of the Italian dishes in the United Statesstarted in the late 19th century when a large group of Americansentered the United States as either immigrants or visitors (Short etal., 2007). The presence of other foods from Mexico and Chinatriggered the Hotels in San Francisco to offer the dishes to theircustomers. Also, the attitude that people had towards foreign disheswas slowly fading away, and most of the locals were eager to trysomething new in their diet. Additionally, the presence ofingredients in San Francisco made it easy for the chefs to includethe Italian delicacies in their menu (Short et al., 2007). Some ofthe earliest Italian food to be sold in San Francisco includesspaghetti, meatballs, ravioli, moizzarella and parmesan cheese.

In San Francisco, various factors have perpetuated the Italian foodculture. First, cheese is an important component of the Italian diet.In Italy, cheese is relatively expensive when compared to the UnitedStates. According to Jayasanker (2008), hotels in San Francisco havean all year round supply of cheap cheese from the neighboringranches. They, therefore, have an abundant menu consisting oflasagna, manicotti and pasta shells among others. Some of thepopular eating hubs that provide Italian food include MolinaruDelicatessen, Seven Hills, Sotto Mare Oysteria, Casaro Pizzera andPerbacco.

Methods used by Hotels to Attract Visitors in San Francisco

Hotels in San Francisco use various methods to attract a large numberof clients. The competition that exists in the city requires that thehotels maintain the expected standards set by the visitors. Asignificant number of the people who visit San Francisco travelwidely and they can, therefore, compare the quality of food indifferent hotels.

First, the hotels require their chefs to visit the market to choosethe ingredients for preparing the dishes. The quality of food ishighly determined by the availability of all the ingredients.According to Jayasanker (2008), every Tuesday and Saturday, the chefsvisit the San Francisco Farmers Market at the Ferry building. Thelocation of the city is strategic since the surrounding farms bringtheir prod cuts into the market. The Californian lands, waters andranches are rich in a variety of crops and animal products thatsuffice the market (Jayasanker, 2008). The Farmers’ Marketencourages sustainable agriculture and the reduced use of syntheticpesticides and fertilizers. The primary goal of the market ispromoting economic profitability, social and economic equity. Thehotels, therefore, procure high-quality plants and animal productsthat are free from hormones (Jayasanker, 2008). The availableproducts dictate the component of the menu that the chefs prepare.The rationale behind visiting the market is to advise the hotels onwhat to put on the menu to avoid frustrating clients by listingdishes that are not prepared.

Secondly, the hotels in San Francisco have mastered the art of havingspecialized hotels for the various dishes from various regions(Hartman, 2002). For example, the Chinese foods are common inChinatown and other hotels that specifically prepare Chinese foods.In the past, the Chinese hotels had Chinese staff. Their presencebrought the Chinese culture that the visitors expected to find thehotels into a reality. Jayasanker (2008) indicates that although thenatives have also secured employment in the hotels, the proprietorshave managed to maintain the quality of food. There are also hotelsspecializing in Italian and Mexican food. The idea attracts a largenumber of visitors from different backgrounds. Gioia (2015) alsoagrees that when they make an order in the various hotels, they donot have to specify the nature of the food they want, such as,Mexican, American, Chinese or Italian. For example, once they enterinto a Chinese hotel, everything from the main course to the desertis Chinese. The natives who also want to have a taste of aliendishes find it easy arriving at the hotel of their choice since theones that provide food from the same country are grouped together.

Also, the hotels in San Francisco attract a large number of visitorsby presenting food in varied ways other than the way they are servedin their original countries. For example, in Italy, meats are servedas accents to the main course. In America, meat is available invarious Italian dishes. It is present in antipasto, bracchiole or asa substantial steak (Jayasanker, 2008). Chefs also prepare veal andchicken with Marsala, wine sauce and mushrooms. The breaded andpan-fried meat covered in sauce is equated to the American chickenstew with mushrooms. Therefore, the improved dish attracts thelocals. Jayasanker (2008) also indicates that the chefs learn fromthe responses given by the consumers to change the presentation ofvarious dishes.

Besides, the restaurants have strived to integrate the Americanculture into various hotels. Initially, the Chinese restaurantsemployed Chinese staff. Currently, a good number of Americans havesecured employment in these hotels (Gioia, 2015). When visitors fromthe indigenous countries visit such hotels, they can identify withthe staff that belongs to their ethnicity. Jayasanker (2008) alsoagree that the presence of American staff has enabled the NativeAmericans to identify with the hotels and the dishes. The idea ofhaving employees from varied ethnic backgrounds has been instrumentalin dismantling the stereotypes associated with the different foods.

How Food Culture Promotes a Sense of Belonging in San Francisco

When people go to a foreign country, they experience variouschallenges before aligning themselves with the dominant culture. Someof the immigrants strive to keep their practices in vain due to theuncontrollable circumstances in the new environment. Particularly,people take a long time before adapting to the new feeding habits.Short et al. (2007) believe that trying the new foods is a skepticalmove that people only adopt due to the absence of their preferreddishes. Also, visitors who frequent various cities may become fond ofthem depending on the type of food prepared in the hotels. A hotelthat prepares foreign dishes gives people a sense of belonging evenwhen they are far from home.

In San Francisco, the different hotels that reflect the culture ofpeople from various parts of the world create a sense of belonging.To start with, hotel owners not only focus in providing foreign food,but also with the sitting in the different hotels (Hartman, 2002).For example, the Chinese hotels are consistent with their Chineseinteriors complete with Chinese chandeliers, cutlery furniture andlighting. Whenever a Chinese step inside the hotels they enjoy andexperience that they would have when eating in a hotel in their homecountry. A similar trend is observed in Italian and Mexican hotels.

Also, the hotels in San Francisco employ staff with an array ofskills concerning the foreign dishes and their presentations. Thechefs prepare the dishes just the way they are prepared in theircountries of origin (Jayasanker, 2008). They only make slight changesdepending on the available ingredients. For example, the availabilityof cheese in San Francisco results in its presence in large amountsin the Italian dishes. The presence of Chinese workers in the hotelsalso plays an important role in making the Chinese experience in aforeign land complete (Jayasanker, 2008).

Finally, a good number of the Americans have appreciated the foreigndishes in their country. According to Jayasanker (2008), the foreignstereotypes that the natives initially had for the Mexican, Chineseand Italian dishes have faded. The frequent visits by the nativesinto the hotels in San Francisco have made some of the dishes to beintegrated into the American diet. For example, most Americans arefond of pasta that is available even in local hotels. When theforeigners find Americans enjoying the traditional dishes, theydevelop a positive attitude towards them. America, therefore, becomesa home away from home (Jayasanker, 2008). Additionally, San Franciscohas various food areas that are predominant with particular foods.For example, Chinatown has a rich tradition of Chinese hotels.Investors first established Chinese hotels in the area beforeventuring into the entire city (Hartman, 2002). The food cultureadopted by the hoteliers has been a contributing factor to the manyChinese visiting the area. Once in the hotels that bear Chinesenames, they feel at home. Other hotels preparing Italian and Mexicanfoods have names associated with the countries. When visiting them,the consumers can identify with the names (Hartman, 2002).

In conclusion, San Francisco stands out as the hub of food culture.As one of the cities with the higher GDP in the country, investorstarget whenever they want to introduce a foreign dish. Also, as aresult of its reputation in foreign dishes, it has become thedestination of many local and international travelers. Visitors enjoyChinese, Italian and Mexican among other dishes. San Francisco enjoysthe all-year supply of ingredients from the farms and waters nearby.To attract visitors, hotels employ qualified chefs as well as havingestablishments that provide particular dishes. The adoption of food,cutlery and methods of presentation helps people to identifythemselves with the different culture. The initial stereotypes thatpeople had for foreign foods have faded, and the locals appreciatetheir presence in the community.


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