Реферат: U.S. Culture
Traditional American cuisine has included conventional European foodstuffs such as wheat, dairy products, pork, beef, and poultry. It has also incorporated products that were either known only in the New World or that were grown there first and then introduced to Europe. Such foods include potatoes, corn, codfish, molasses, pumpkin and other squashes, sweet potatoes, and peanuts. American cuisine also varies by region. Southern cooking was often different from cooking in New England and its upper Midwest offshoots. Doughnuts, for example, were a New England staple, while Southerners preferred corn bread. The availability of foods also affected regional diets, such as the different kinds of fish eaten in New England and the Gulf Coast. For instance, Boston clam chowder and Louisiana gumbo are widely different versions of fish soup. Other variations often depended on the contributions of indigenous peoples. In the Southwest, for example, Mexican and Native Americans made hot peppers a staple and helped define the spicy hot barbecues and chili dishes of the area. In Louisiana, Cajun influence similarly created spicy dishes as a local variation of Southern cuisine, and African slaves throughout the South introduced foods such as okra and yams
By the late 19th century, immigrants from Europe and Asia were introducing even more variations into the American diet. American cuisine began to reflect these foreign cuisines, not only in their original forms but in Americanized versions as well. Immigrants from Japan and Italy introduced a range of fresh vegetables that added important nutrients as well as variety to the protein-heavy American diet. Germans and Italians contributed new skills and refinements to the production of alcoholic beverages, especially beer and wine, which supplemented the more customary hard cider and indigenous corn-mash whiskeys. Some imports became distinctly American products, such as hot dogs, which are descended from German wurst, or sausage. Spaghetti and pizza from Italy, especially, grew increasingly more American and developed many regional spin-offs. Americans even adapted chow mein from China into a simple American dish. Not until the late 20th century did Americans rediscover these cuisines, and many others, paying far more attention to their original forms and cooking styles.
Until the early 20th century, the federal government did not regulate food for consumers, and food was sometimes dangerous and impure. During the Progressive period in the early 20th century, the federal government intervened to protect consumers against the worst kinds of food adulterations and diseases by passing legislation such as the Pure Food and Drug Acts. As a result, American food became safer. By the early 20th century, Americans began to consume convenient, packaged foods such as breads and cookies, preserved fruits, and pickles. By the mid-20th century, packaged products had expanded greatly to include canned soups, noodles, processed breakfast cereals, preserved meats, frozen vegetables, instant puddings, and gelatins. These prepackaged foods became staples used in recipes contained in popular cookbooks, while peanut butter sandwiches and packaged cupcakes became standard lunchbox fare. As a result, the American diet became noteworthy for its blandness rather than its flavors, and for its wholesomeness rather than its subtlety.
Americans were proud of their technology in food production and processing. They used fertilizers, hybridization (genetically combining two varieties), and other technologies to increase crop yields and consumer selection, making foods cheaper if not always better tasting. Additionally, by the 1950s, the refrigerator had replaced the old-fashioned icebox and the cold cellar as a place to store food. Refrigeration, because it allowed food to last longer, made the American kitchen a convenient place to maintain readily available food stocks. However, plentiful wholesome food, when combined with the sedentary 20th-century lifestyle and work habits, brought its own unpleasant consequences—overeating and excess weight. During the 1970s, 25 percent of Americans were overweight; by the 1990s that had increased to 35 percent.
America’s foods began to affect the rest of the world—not only raw staples such as wheat and corn, but a new American cuisine that spread throughout the world. American emphasis on convenience and rapid consumption is best represented in fast foods such as hamburgers, french fries, and soft drinks, which almost all Americans have eaten. By the 1960s and 1970s fast foods became one of America's strongest exports as franchises for McDonald’s and Burger King spread through Europe and other parts of the world, including the former Soviet Union and Communist China. Traditional meals cooked at home and consumed at a leisurely pace—common in the rest of the world, and once common in the United States—gave way to quick lunches and dinners eaten on the run as other countries mimicked American cultural patterns.
By the late 20th century, Americans had become more conscious of their diets, eating more poultry, fish, and fresh fruits and vegetables and fewer eggs and less beef. They also began appreciating fresh ingredients and livelier flavors, and cooks began to rediscover many world cuisines in forms closer to their original. In California, chefs combined the fresh fruits and vegetables available year-round with ingredients and spices sometimes borrowed from immigrant kitchens to create an innovative cooking style that was lighter than traditional French, but more interesting and varied than typical American cuisine. Along with the state’s wines, California cuisine eventually took its place among the acknowledged forms of fine dining.
As Americans became more concerned about their diets, they also became more ecologically conscious. This consciousness often included an antitechnology aspect that led some Americans to switch to a partially or wholly vegetarian diet, or to emphasize products produced organically (without chemical fertilizers and pesticides). Many considered these foods more wholesome and socially responsible because their production was less taxing to the environment. In the latter 20th century, Americans also worried about the effects of newly introduced genetically altered foods and irradiation processes for killing bacteria. They feared that these new processes made their food less natural and therefore harmful.
These concerns and the emphasis on variety were by no means universal, since food habits in the late 20th century often reflected society’s ethnic and class differences. Not all Americans appreciated California cuisine or vegetarian food, and many recent immigrants, like their immigrant predecessors, often continued eating the foods they knew best.
At the end of the 20th century, American eating habits and food production were increasingly taking place outside the home. Many people relied on restaurants and on new types of fully prepared meals to help busy families in which both adults worked full-time. Another sign of the public’s changing food habits was the microwave oven, probably the most widely used new kitchen appliance, since it can quickly cook foods and reheat prepared foods and leftovers. Since Americans are generally cooking less of their own food, they are more aware than at any time since the early 20th century of the quality and health standards applied to food. Recent attention to cases in which children have died from contaminated and poorly prepared food has once again directed the public’s attention to the government's role in monitoring food safety.
In some ways, American food developments are contradictory. Americans are more aware of food quality despite, and maybe because of, their increasing dependence on convenience. They eat a more varied diet, drawing on the cuisines of immigrant groups (Thai, Vietnamese, Greek, Indian, Cuban, Mexican, and Ethiopian), but they also regularly eat fast foods found in every shopping mall and along every highway. They are more suspicious of technology, although they rely heavily on it for their daily meals. In many ways, these contradictions reflect the many influences on American life in the late 20th century—immigration, double-income households, genetic technologies, domestic and foreign travel—and food has become an even deeper expression of the complex culture of which it is part.
In many regions of the world, people wear traditional costumes at festivals or holidays, and sometimes more regularly. Americans, however, do not have distinctive folk attire with a long tradition. Except for the varied and characteristic clothing of Native American peoples, dress in the United States has rarely been specific to a certain region or based on the careful preservation of decorative patterns and crafts. American dress is derived from the fabrics and fashions of the Europeans who began colonizing the country in the 17th century. Early settlers incorporated some of the forms worn by indigenous peoples, such as moccasins and garments made from animal skins (Benjamin Franklin is famous for flaunting a raccoon cap when he traveled to Europe), but in general, fashion in the United States adapted and modified European styles. Despite the number and variety of immigrants in the United States, American clothing has tended to be homogeneous, and attire from an immigrant’s homeland was often rapidly exchanged for American apparel.
American dress is distinctive because of its casualness. American style in the 20th century is recognizably more informal than in Europe, and for its fashion sources it is more dependent on what people on the streets are wearing. European fashions take their cues from the top of the fashion hierarchy, dictated by the world-famous haute couture (high fashion) houses of Paris, France, and recently those of Milan, Italy, and London, England. Paris designers, both today and in the past, have also dressed wealthy and fashionable Americans, who copied French styles. Although European designs remain a significant influence on American tastes, American fashions more often come from popular sources, such as the school and the street, as well as television and movies. In the last quarter of the 20th century, American designers often found inspiration in the imaginative attire worn by young people in cities and ballparks, and that worn by workers in factories and fields.
Blue jeans are probably the single most representative article of American clothing. They were originally invented by tailor Jacob Davis, who together with dry-goods salesman Levi Strauss patented the idea in 1873 as durable clothing for miners. Blue jeans (also known as dungarees) spread among workers of all kinds in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, especially among cowboys, farmers, loggers, and railroad workers. During the 1950s, actors Marlon Brando and James Dean made blue jeans fashionable by wearing them in movies, and jeans became part of the image of teenage rebelliousness. This fashion statement exploded in the 1960s and 1970s as Levi's became a fundamental part of the youth culture focused on civil rights and antiwar protests. By the late 1970s, almost everyone in the United States wore blue jeans, and youths around the world sought them. As designers began to create more sophisticated styles of blue jeans and to adjust their fit, jeans began to express the American emphasis on informality and the importance of subtlety of detail. By highlighting the right label and achieving the right look, blue jeans, despite their worker origins, ironically embodied the status consciousness of American fashion and the eagerness to approximate the latest fad.
American informality in dress is such a strong part of American culture that many workplaces have adopted the idea of “casual Friday,” a day when workers are encouraged to dress down from their usual professional attire. For many high-tech industries located along the West Coast, as well as among faculty at colleges and universities, this emphasis on casual attire is a daily occurrence, not just reserved for Fridays.
The fashion industry in the United States, along with its companion cosmetics industry, grew enormously in the second half of the 20th century and became a major source of competition for French fashion. Especially notable during the late 20th century was the incorporation of sports logos and styles, from athletic shoes to tennis shirts and baseball caps, into standard American wardrobes. American informality is enshrined in the wardrobes created by world-famous U.S. designers such as Calvin Klein, Liz Claiborne, and Ralph Lauren. Lauren especially adopted the American look, based in part on the tradition of the old West (cowboy hats, boots, and jeans) and in part on the clean-cut sportiness of suburban style (blazers, loafers, and khakis).
Sports and Recreation
Large numbers of Americans watch and participate in sports activities, which are a deeply ingrained part of American life. Americans use sports to express interest in health and fitness and to occupy their leisure time. Sports also allow Americans to connect and identify with mass culture. Americans pour billions of dollars into sports and their related enterprises, affecting the economy, family habits, school life, and clothing styles. Americans of all classes, races, sexes, and ages participate in sports activities—from toddlers in infant swimming groups and teenagers participating in school athletics to middle-aged adults bowling or golfing and older persons practicing t’ai chi.
Public subsidies and private sponsorships support the immense network of outdoor and indoor sports, recreation, and athletic competitions. Except for those sponsored by public schools, most sports activities are privately funded, and even American Olympic athletes receive no direct national sponsorship. Little League baseball teams, for example, are usually sponsored by local businesses. Many commercial football, basketball, baseball, and hockey teams reflect large private investments. Although sports teams are privately owned, they play in stadiums that are usually financed by taxpayer-provided subsidies such as bond measures. State taxes provide some money for state university sporting events. Taxpayer dollars also support state parks, the National Park Service, and the Forest Service, which provide places for Americans to enjoy camping, fishing, hiking, and rafting. Public money also funds the Coast Guard, whose crews protect those enjoying boating around the nation's shores.
Sports in North America go back to the Native Americans, who played forms of lacrosse and field hockey. During colonial times, early Dutch settlers bowled on New York City's Bowling Green, still a small park in southern Manhattan. However, organized sports competitions and local participatory sports on a substantial scale go back only to the late 19th century. Schools and colleges began to encourage athletics as part of a balanced program emphasizing physical as well as mental vigor, and churches began to loosen strictures against leisure and physical pleasures. As work became more mechanized, more clerical, and less physical during the late 19th century, Americans became concerned with diet and exercise. With sedentary urban activities replacing rural life, Americans used sports and outdoor relaxation to balance lives that had become hurried and confined. Biking, tennis, and golf became popular for those who could afford them, while sandlot baseball and an early version of basketball became popular city activities. At the same time, organizations such as the Boy Scouts and the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) began to sponsor sports as part of their efforts to counteract unruly behavior among young people.
Baseball teams developed in Eastern cities during the 1850s and spread to the rest of the nation during the Civil War in the 1860s. Baseball quickly became the national pastime and began to produce sports heroes such as Cy Young, Ty Cobb, and Babe Ruth in the first half of the 20th century. With its city-based loyalties and all-American aura, baseball appealed to many immigrants, who as players and fans used the game as a way to fit into American culture.
Starting in the latter part of the 19th century, football was played on college campuses, and intercollegiate games quickly followed. By the early 20th century, football had become a feature of college life across the nation. In the 1920s football pep rallies were commonly held on college campuses, and football players were among the most admired campus leaders. That enthusiasm has now spilled way beyond college to Americans throughout the country. Spectators also watch the professional football teams of the National Football League (NFL) with enthusiasm.
Basketball is another sport that is very popular as both a spectator and participant sport. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) hosts championships for men’s and women’s collegiate teams. Held annually in March, the men’s NCAA national championship is one of the most popular sporting events in the United States. The top men’s professional basketball league in the United States is the National Basketball Association; the top women’s is Women’s National Basketball Association. In addition, many people play basketball in amateur leagues and organizations. It is also common to see people playing basketball in parks and local gymnasiums around the country.
Another major sport played in the United States is ice hockey. Ice hockey began as an amateur sport played primarily in the Northeast. The first U.S. professional ice hockey team was founded in Boston in 1924. Ice hockey’s popularity has spread throughout the country since the 1960s. The NCAA holds a national collegiate ice hockey championship in April of each year. The country’s top professional league is the National Hockey League (NHL). NHL teams play a regular schedule that culminates in the championship series. The winner is awarded the Stanley Cup, the league’s top prize.
Television transformed sports in the second half of the 20th century. As more Americans watched sports on television, the sports industry grew into an enormous business, and sports events became widely viewed among Americans as cultural experiences. Many Americans shared televised moments of exaltation and triumph throughout the year: baseball during the spring and summer and its World Series in the early fall, football throughout the fall crowned by the Super Bowl in January, and the National Basketball Association (NBA) championships in the spring. The Olympic Games, watched by millions of people worldwide, similarly rivet Americans to their televisions as they watch outstanding athletes compete on behalf of their nations. Commercial sports are part of practically every home in America and have allowed sports heroes to gain prominence in the national imagination and to become fixtures of the consumer culture. As well-known faces and bodies, sports celebrities such as basketball player Michael Jordan and baseball player Mark McGwire are hired to endorse products.
Although televised games remove the viewing public from direct contact with events, they have neither diminished the fervor of team identification nor dampened the enthusiasm for athletic participation. Americans watch more sports on television than ever, and they personally participate in more varied sporting activities and athletic clubs. Millions of young girls and boys across the country play soccer, baseball, tennis, and field hockey.
At the end of the 20th century, Americans were taking part in individual sports of all kinds—jogging, bicycling, swimming, skiing, rock climbing, playing tennis, as well as more unusual sports such as bungee jumping, hang gliding, and wind surfing. As Americans enjoy more leisure time, and as Hollywood and advertising emphasize trim, well-developed bodies, sports have become a significant component of many people's lives. Many Americans now invest significant amounts of money in sports equipment, clothing, and gym memberships. As a result, more people are dressing in sporty styles of clothing. Sports logos and athletic fashions have become common aspects of people’s wardrobes, as people need to look as though they participate in sports to be in style. Sports have even influenced the cars Americans drive, as sport utility vehicles accommodate the rugged terrain, elaborate equipment, and sporty lifestyles of their owners.
Probably the most significant long-term development in 20th-century sports has been the increased participation of minorities and women. Throughout the early 20th century, African Americans made outstanding contributions to sports, despite being excluded from organized white teams. The exclusion of black players from white baseball led to the creation of a separate Negro National League in 1920. On the world stage, track-and-field star Jessie Owens became a national hero when he won four gold medals and set world and Olympic records at the Berlin Olympics in 1936. The racial segregation that prevented African Americans from playing baseball in the National League until 1947 has been replaced by the enormous successes of African Americans in all fields of sport.
Before the 20th century women could not play in most organized sports. Soon, however, they began to enter the sports arena. Helen Wills Moody, a tennis champion during the 1920s, and Babe Didrikson Zaharias, one of the 20th century’s greatest women athletes, were examples of physical grace and agility. In 1972 Title IX of the Education Amendments Act outlawed discrimination based on gender in education, including school sports. Schools then spent additional funding on women's athletics, which provided an enormous boost to women’s sports of all kinds, especially basketball, which became very popular. Women's college basketball, part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), is a popular focus of interest. By the end of the 20th century, this enthusiasm led to the creation of a major professional women’s basketball league. Women have become a large part of athletics, making their mark in a wide range of sports.
Sports have become one of the most visible expressions of the vast extension of democracy in 20th-century America. They have become more inclusive, with many Americans both personally participating and enjoying sports as spectators. Once readily available only to the well-to-do, sports and recreation attract many people, aided by the mass media, the schools and colleges, the federal and state highway and park systems, and increased leisure time.
Celebrations and Holidays
Americans celebrate an enormous variety of festivals and holidays because they come from around the globe and practice many religions. They also celebrate holidays specific to the United States that commemorate historical events or encourage a common national memory. Holidays in America are often family or community events. Many Americans travel long distances for family gatherings or take vacations during holidays. In fact, by the end of the 20th century, many national holidays in the United States had become three-day weekends, which many people used as mini vacations. Except for the Fourth of July and Veterans Day, most commemorative federal holidays, including Memorial Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, and Presidents’ Day, are celebrated on Mondays so that Americans can enjoy a long weekend. Because many Americans tend to create vacations out of these holiday weekends rather than celebrate a particular event, some people believe the original significance of many of these occasions has been eroded.
Because the United States is a secular society founded on the separation of church and state, many of the most meaningful religiously based festivals and rituals, such as Easter, Rosh Hashanah, and Ramadan, are not enshrined as national events, with one major exception. Christmas, and the holiday season surrounding it, is an enormous commercial enterprise, a fixture of the American social calendar, and deeply embedded in the popular imagination. Not until the 19th century did Christmas in the United States begin to take on aspects of the modern holiday celebration, such as exchanging gifts, cooking and eating traditional foods, and putting up often-elaborate Christmas decorations. The holiday has grown in popularity and significance ever since. Santa Claus; brightly decorated Christmas trees; and plenty of wreathes, holly, and ribbons help define the season for most children. Indeed, because some religious faiths do not celebrate Christmas, the Christmas season has expanded in recent years to become the “holiday season,” embracing Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, and Kwanzaa, a celebration of African heritage. Thus, the Christmas season has become the closest thing to a true national festival in the United States.
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