What is California Cuisine?

What is California Cuisine?

california cuisine

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If you’ve ever eaten at The Pool House, then you already know that our food offerings are in a different stratosphere than most poolside concessions. Our menu is packed with fresh, feel-good fare that will make you feel healthy, satisfied, and help you maintain your sunny demeanor for all day lounging and adventure.

What is it that makes our menu so great? To truly understand what sets The Pool House’s food offerings apart, it’s important to understand our style of cooking. Often referred to as “California cuisine,” this unique style of cooking is less about specific recipes and more about an ingredient-driven and freshness-obsessed state of mind. Here, we’ll offer a comprehensive explanation of what California cuisine is and what it entails, so that you can understand and savor our cuisine even more!

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What is California cuisine? First, let’s clear up a common misconception. No, California cuisine isn’t simply a catch-all term to describe all food prepared in the Golden State. California cuisine is a style of cooking which is generally accepted as having developed in California, though these days you’ll see its influence all over the United States and across the world!

The concept of California cuisine is less about specific recipes and more about a general philosophy and approach to food.

In essence, California cuisine is characterized by a reverence to fresh, simple preparation, and the use of local and sustainable ingredients whenever possible. But there’s more to it than that. California cuisine is also characterized by an element of fusion, employing cooking techniques from other cultures. With California cuisine, it’s not uncommon to see techniques and recipes borrowed European, Asian, and South American cuisines, yet prepared using local ingredients.

Who invented California cuisine? Most food historians generally accept that the California cuisine style was pioneered by cookbook author Helen Evans Brown, who published Helen Brown’s West Coast Cookbook in the early 1950s. This pivotal book focused on forgoing generic, big-box ingredients and produce in favor of choosing locally sourced, fresh ingredients. The book quickly became a critical darling and was beloved by foodies of note, including James Beard. Looking back, this work is largely seen as the template for today’s California cuisine style.

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Characteristics of California cuisine. Now that you have a basic idea behind the mentality behind California cuisine, let’s discuss its physical attributes.

  • Fresh, fresh, fresh! Freshness is one of the most important aspects of California cuisine. Chefs cooking in this style know that a just-picked Meyer lemon is going to make for the most delicious tart, or that local, fresh avocado is going to make the most memorable avocado toast. The fresher, the better!
  • Local and sustainable ingredients. Not only do Chefs cooking California cuisine want the freshest ingredients, but they want to know where they came from. There are a few reasons for this. One reason is that the freshness they so crave is easier to come by locally. It’s easier to use microgreens that were picked that day from a local farmer versus trying to import them from states away. Additionally, local products mean there’s less of a carbon footprint.Another is that the Chef can actually know the practices of their vendors. Working closely with local and sustainably minded vendors not only improves the ecosystem but increases a sense of community, as the ingredients come from real people versus faceless corporate entities.
  • California ingredients. This perhaps goes without saying, but California cuisine is reverent to grown-in-California ingredients. If you ask most people what ingredients they think of when they think “California cuisine”, chances are you’ll hear people bring up ingredients grown in California, including a bounty of fresh produce. Because California cuisine evolved in a state so rich in agricultural production, California products have become an inherent part of the cuisine style. Expect lots of avocado, strawberries, artichoke, and other crops native to California.
  • Simple preparation. As previously noted, of the key tenets of California cuisine is that the ingredients are chosen with great care. When you’ve taken the time to carefully source the best and most flavorful ingredients possible, it would be counterintuitive to destroy their natural flavor by overcooking them or drowning them with other flavors.As such, California cuisine focuses on handling the ingredients as little as possible, and instead figuring out simple preparations that will allow their natural flavor to shine. Far from a lazy approach, this can often prove even trickier than traditional kitchen tricks like dousing an ingredient in oil and salt and cheese. However, you’ll end up with a much fresher and vibrant (and healthier) flavor.
  • Inspiration from different cultures. California cuisine borrows from other cultures, with delicious results. It’s not unusual to see culinary techniques borrowed from other cultures to create delicious meals using local ingredients. For example, consider the Crispy Rock Shrimp on the menu at The Pool House. Freshly caught rock shrimp is prepared with Gochujang, and Japanese-style aioli for a delicious, locally made yet globally inspired dish.
  • Beautiful diners. Is it just us, or are the people who enjoy California cuisine just a little better looking than average? An afternoon or evening spent at The Pool House will undoubtedly provide plenty of beautiful people watching!

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The Pool House: coastal and California-inspired cuisine. At The Pool House, we offer a unique brand of California cuisine that one might dub “California coastal cuisine”. Our menu has a strong seafood emphasis, and we are committed to using the finest quality, freshest seafood possible.

Like California cuisine, Coastal cuisine is characterized by fresh, bright flavors that allow the simplicity of the ingredients to shine through. Basically, chefs want to maintain and celebrate the superior flavors of the food as much as possible my minimally “processing” them in the kitchen. Combining elements of California and Coastal cuisine on our menu truly sets The Pool House apart!

Now that you have a better understanding of California cuisine, it’s time to enjoy some! Come visit us at The Pool House and see for yourself the difference that our commitment to freshness, flavor, and culinary creativity makes.

What’s your favorite element of California cuisine?