The American Revolution was a political upheaval that took place towards the end of the 18th century in America. This was a revolutionary war as many historians have argued. The French took part in the war due to their ardent desire to lessen the power of the British and to revenge for what they had faced during the Seven Year’s war. The war was taking place during the time when the country was in utter striving for independence. The move by the French was, therefore, a strategic one as they would win the enemy with combined efforts from the Americans. There are different influences that the French had on the Americans, particularly the present day United States of America. These influences are political, economical, and social as they set a new life to the people. Some scholars have described this as the awakening of the Americans. This paper will narrow down to look at the elements of the American’s lifestyle influenced by the French influenced and particularly diet as one of its aspects.
The Americans before the American Revolution
Before the American Revolution, Americans had been uncivilized. Their life was under total control of the British who controlled their colonizers. Slave trade was common, and women did not have rights as they would be exploited without any query. The food that they ate directly came from the land. The food was, however, not enough as some died from starvation, especially, those who were working in European farms. In addition, the British population in the northern part was rapidly increasing meaning that they were in demand of more food. It was evident that the Americans had poor means of storing their food. This was a major problem, particularly, among the soldiers who lost lives during the wars due to starvation.
Influence of the French on the Americans’ Diet
The interactions between the French and the Americans were beyond the control of the British during the American Revolution as they worked hand in hand to ensure that they had won the fight against the British. They also lived together all through to ensure that they were strategic in handling the British who had superior weapons. The armies of the two accompanists lived together both at night and during the day. Due to cold nights, the military were not in a position to withstand such conditions. The cotton blankets that they used were in a way not effective. It is because of this that the French introduced the coffee culture to the Americans. Coffee was used to keep them warm during the cold nights. Although Americans had been introduced to other beverages such as tea by the British, they found that coffee was more enjoyable than other drinks. This culture then spread to other Americans, and even today coffee is the most enjoyed beverage in America and particularly in the United States of America.
The French knew the importance of bread, biscuits, corns, and other sugary foods especially to the military. The military ate this to get energy that kept them warm and active. This was also introduced to the Americans who realized the importance of bread and corn from the military experience. The Americans had been used to heavy food, which was in most cases not good to the soldiers. The bread culture was also introduced in the community. Bakeries were opened and became very busy as people could enjoy their products. This advanced as the bakeries included snacks and other light foods. Therefore, bread had to be included in the diet of any man serving or holding an office.
Polanyi (1980) talks of human freedom as one of the fruits of enlightenment. The Americans learned to ask for their freedom with the claim that all human beings were equal despite their racial, ideological, political, and religious differences. This made them get a good understanding of government as a way of enhancing peaceful coexistence in the society rather than being divided. Because of the human freedom, the Americans learned the act of eating together in groups. This was termed as celebrations where many people would come together and celebrate by eating together. This is something that was commonly used by the French to ensure that they kept close contacts with one another. Parties in the society became popular as the Americans also learnt the art of sharing.
The French had been introduced to restaurants in 1770s. During the time they were in America, they also opened restaurants where people would go eat and pay some cash rather than having to cook at home. This was very important to the working class since they could not afford to keep going back home for meals. Of most importance, was the menu where they could pick the meals they wanted to be served with from a list. This had a great impact to their diet as they were introduced to different kinds of foods that they had never seen before.
Protein content was important to the military. The means of preserving them was, however, a big challenge. The French, therefore, introduced drying as a method of food conservation. This was mainly used to dry beef and pork, which were provided to the military. Their daily diet had to include some protein content. This also became a culture within the society as they learned the importance of proteins in their diet. Consequently, even to date, the average protein content consumed by the Americans is higher than that of people from other countries.
The French also introduced the use of vinegar in food preservation. This was provided in the camps to ensure that the remains of foods provided were well preserved for future use. Vinegar was meant to ensure that the troops consumed safe food. They further enhanced this by teaching Americans some tactics of maintaining good hygiene especially in the crowded places. In the early days, many troops had died due to poor hygiene, but as the French intervened the death rates reduced. Hygiene was crucial as it ensured that people consumed clean food. This was extended to the society as they learnt how to make food safe for consumption. They also learn how to check food to ensure that it was safe for consumption.
The French had a great influence on the Americans. Although the American Revolution was influenced by the Americans themselves, the French played a key role in changing the lives of the Americans. The French were revenging against the British, but this became an advantage to the Americans. The life of the Americans was wholly changed, and this is what made the war be termed as a revolutionary war. The diet of the Americans was advanced in a way as they learned the importance of coffee. They also learned to eat in groups during celebrations. This enhanced team spirit. The French also introduced drying as a method of preserving pork and beef together with the importance of such proteins. Most of the changes in the diet that took place during the American Revolution are still very relevant to the modern eating culture of the Americans.