The farmers, workers, and pioneers of America in the 1800s were nourished by a tradition of hearty, downhome cooking that is still a part of our national cuisineNew England baked beans, roast beef, turkey, corn on the cob, and pumpkin pies. With roots in the British Isles, and with important contributions from Native American food plants and cooking techniques, American food and drink quality and seasonal variety was vastly improved during the 1800s by new technologies in transportation, food storage, hygiene, and preservation, growing national and world markets, andnot leastthe delicious ethnic cuisines of new immigrant groups. Hungry for innovation, quality, and economy, Americans in the 1800s became the bestfed nation in the history of the world!
Medicine developed into a science in the 1800s, but it was a long evolution from folk remedies and superstition to a modern understanding of how the human body works and how disease is spread. Throughout much of the century, the life expectancy of the average American was decades shorter than it is now. A lack of understanding of simple hygiene contributed to the early death of many women after childbirth, and children routinely died of common childhood diseases like measles. An incorrectly treated broken arm could kill a healthy young man, and pain, disfigurement, and epidemic disease was the fate of many Americans. Traditional herbal remedies were sometimes the best treatments available, while patent medicines often contained toxic substances, and medical procedures were often painful, disgusting, and ultimately useless. The dedicated scientists and medical researchers of the 1800s made a tremendous contribution to the health and happiness of Americans.
The Mexican cuisine of today originated thousands of years ago. The ancient Olmec and Mayan civilizations domesticated maize, beans, and chili peppers and developed the flatbread cakes known as tortillas. The Aztecs expanded the Mexican diet with other meats, fruits, and vegetables. As Spanish explorers conquered and colonized Mexico, European cooks introduced new ingredients, such as rice, wheat flour, and the meat of domestic animals like pigs, chickens, and cows. They also brought previously unknown methods of preparing food, such as frying. Today, Mexican cuisine is extremely popular far beyond the borders of the nation, and in 2010, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared Mexican cuisine to be an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.