Surprised by American food

Anything to do with lots and lots of meat.

Proper pastrami sandwiches on soft rye bread. I am also very partial to Arbys sliced beef sandwiches; a guilty pleasure.

But the one thing you never ever see outsite the US is Deep South-style “barbecue”, which was a total revelation. I don’t know why this isn’t exported. Come on entrepreneurs, we need this stuff over here - stat.

The thing I found weird when I first went to The States was the sweetness of the food. Not just the maple syrup with bacon at breakfast kind of sweet, which I was expecting, but even ‘normal’ foods like butter and bread tasted overly sweet to me. Is sugar added to these things?

The sweet theme was highlighted at a dinner party I went to in Chicago. The hostess served us spaghetti bolognese (nothing freaky so far). On the table was a fruit salad - very familar item to any Brit - which we Brit guests assumed was for dessert, so we all left it alone. “Don’t any of you want fruit salad?”, hostess asks. “What, with spaghetti bolognese??? EURGHHHH!”

As an American, this never made a lot of sense to me, either. This isn’t universal, but often they take your plate leaving you to place the dirty knife or fork on the clean table cloth for the next course. I guess there’d be nothing wrong in just asking for a clean knife, but I never have.

The large size of the servings at restaruants.

Something that amazed me… when I was in LA in 1994, I could have sworn I saw people walking around Disneyland eating a whole dill pickle as a snack. Was I seeing things? Who would eat a whole pickle? Oh, and salads with jello and vegetables in them - ew…

But I LOVED the Kona coffee in Hawaii, it’s very hard to find here and very expensive, now that was surprisingly good. :slight_smile:

This American agrees that sounds a little weird. With a pasta dish like spaghetti bolognese, I’d expect to have a green salad and garlic bread, not fruit salad.
Fruit salad could be a dessert, or part of a light lunch menu.

Yes. I remember being shocked at the price of a sandwich on a diner menu, before discovering that a ‘sandwich’ - which once upon a time (in the UK - think British Rail circa 1970) used to be a miserable affair involving white sliced bread, cheap margarine and a sliver of ham - was an generous, opulent, triple decker extravaganza, with delicious bread, layers of filling, salad, pickles and relishes, served on a full-sized plate with chips (fries) and salad - a meal in itself.

Applesauce - count me in with the people who think it’s weird. I always thought it was some sort of dessert.

Some things were completely new to me like “meatball hero”. And although I knew that sweets were ‘candy’, chips were ‘fries’ and crisps were ‘chips’, and biscuits were ‘cookies’, I did had no idea that those scone-like things were called ‘biscuits’.

Why yes, yes it is. Actually, it’s high fructose corn syrup.

American bread tastes like cake to me.

But, ooh, American biscuits. With sausage gravy. That’s so good (yet so bad for you).

I’ve never been able to wrap my head around biscuits and gravy*, actually, and I’m from here! I like biscuits with butter and honey. :slight_smile: I do like egg and cheese biscuit sandwiches, though.

*even before I became a vegetarian. I realize it’s kind of moot now.

jjimm, do you think that’s a Latin influence? Do you remember that Clive James episode (forget which series - they are all alike) where he has a “standard” barbeque in South America somewhere (Brazil?)? We are talking four or five kilograms of dead animal piled up on a plate (and for $5 or summat). I mean, I’m not yer ackshual vegan, but even I was shocked. I’m a huge guy, and there is NO WAY IN HELL id have finished half of that platter. And it was an individual serving.

I know there’s lots of Latin influence in US cuisine, but is it a part of the supersize thing?

True, that. It is such a large country that someone from Oregon might get lots of surprises in South Carolina. Just go to a barbecue place. Your plate will have shredded pork smothered in a sweet yellow mustard sauce abutting roast beef hash on a big pile of rice. Your tea will be so sweet that your body will tremble with aftershocks for hours. And if you order unsweetened tea (which you’ll have to repeat over and over to the incredulous stare of a waitress who thinks you’re insane), you’ll be brought several packages of sugar on the side just in case you come to your senses.

Not in any butter I have ever seen.

Also blintzes, knishes or potato pancakes.

As I’m sure Liberal knows, but for the benefit of our non-American Dopers, in the North tea is (far more often than not) served unsweetened. But you’re free to add just as much sugar or artificial sweetener as you desire.

It is a big country, and there’s lots of great regional cuisine. The chain restaurants have had a certain homogenizing effect nationwide, true. But there’s also stuff that you can only get in certain places - or that is at its best in certain places - like Vermont maple syrup, Ohio apple cider, Texas chili, Philadelphia cheese steaks, Maryland crabcakes, etc.

I love this country!

I think The Grits Belt starts some miles south of The Applesauce Belt. Here in Texas, applesauce is mostly kids’ food. Or possibly a German side dish–just the thing with 5 kinds of kraut! (And 3 kinds of cabbage.) Apple-growing areas probably use it more–what else do you do with all those apples?

Grits is (are?) fairly flavorless alone. But great served with breakfast, soaking up the egg yolk & pork grease. Grits baked with cheese & other savory flavors is even better.

“What’s the difference between grits & polenta?”

“About 10 dollars a plate!”

Definitely not, IMO. Persons of latin american descent are not known here for eating huge quantities of meat.

I wonder if what you had was butter ‘spread’ from a tub. Those are often sweetened.


OK, I’ll be fair. Taco Bell food isn’t bad. It’s just not very good, nor very Mexican. Its main attributes are that it’s cheap, filling, and… not untasty. But for ‘Mexican’ fast food, I prefer Del Taco. Too bad they don’t have any up this way.

If one were exported, American tourists would flock to it. Only all you’d hear is ‘You call this barbecue? They ain’t doin’ it right! Barbecue should be blahblahblah…’

Oh, I meant the bread. Although butterish spreads may.

I think it’s more of an Argentine thing, which may have been influenced by the large number of German immigrants to the country, plus copious quantities of really good beef.

Furriners probably react to grits on a breakfast plate the same way I reacted to a grilled tomato on mine in Britain.

But both are surprisingly tasty once you get used to them.

A BBQ in another country would be do-able, if you could get the wood necessary and import a couple of old black pitmen from some little roadside BBQ somewhere.

In the west, too. In fact, I think it’s just in the South (and by that I mean the Southeast) where tea is served sweet. I grew up in Arizona and finding presweetened tea was unheard of, which meant that I had to use enough sugar to make it look like a snow globe in order to make it taste good.

As for apple sauce… I still think of it as a kids’ food. I’m not a huge apple fan, so putting it on stuff just kinda sounds yuck to me. Like it would ruin what you put it on.