The California Gold Rush was largely responsible for the commercialism of the state, and as the nearest port for bringing food and supplies San Francisco quickly grew into the epicenter of banking and commerce, fueled by the promises of instant wealth for prospectors and economic freedom for immigrants. This is how the West was really won.
A particular favorite of mine, one strain of culinary fusion that grew out of this is what I call Western Chinese, a very spicy cowboy skillet stir fry. The Asian fusion of Northern California continues to reflect the sizzle and spice of the western frontier, but with more elegant ingredients and a refined presentation.
Over the years, our big cities and artsy towns have attracted some of the best chefs in the world. Italian and French cuisines take on a uniquely fresh California dimension, and live music is often a featured ingredient, especially in Los Angeles and San Francisco. The quality of wineries and breweries throughout the state add yet another dimension to our eating experiences, spoiling us terribly, and so the bar is also continually being raised for home entertaining.
The first time I went to a progressive dinner party I thought it was too much work for the partiers (me being one of the partiers). I mean, having to get in the car, drive, find a new parking place, get out of the car and walk to a new destination just to sample the next course – it might as well as have been a scavenger hunt. While some of you folks might like working this hard for a meal, I prefer to keep it less effort and more reward by limiting it to a block party, or even having a limo cart everyone from house to house. As long as the cocktails are transportable, the travel time can be as much of a blast as the dining adventure.