I will concede that point. Yurpeens eat cultured (half rotten ) butter, which sounds yummy, and Merkins usually get sweet cream butter, which is blander.
Other than that the correct response to any complaints about our food are easily countered with a swift, “We saved your butts in WWII so STFU,” unless the person is German or Japanese, when the response is “We kicked your butts in WWII so STFU.” You simply cannot play the “America, fuck yeah!” card too often.
The countries that you mention do not Europe make…not by themselves, at least. Go a bit farther afield, to Greece or to the former Soviet countries like Ukraine and you will find things are not quite the way you describe, for the most part.
Umm, no–that is not it. Milk from grass/pasture fed dairy cattle tastes substantially different. Ditto butter. I lived in NZ for awhile and could not believe the difference. Ditto beef (no hormones). Of course, mutton is a rarity here–and it is in EVERYTHING there. Italian sausage: mutton. Sausages (hot dogs): mutton.
Yes, in rural parts of Europe, (and the USA and practically everywhere else on Earth for that matter) people are probably more likely to buy locally produced foods than they are in huge metropolitan centers, (which I assume isn’t exactly going to be news to anyone), but in places like Athens or Kiev, the majority of locals go to great big gigantic supermarkets to shop, just as they do in most other huge industrialized cities throughout the world.
(For what it’s worth, I am fully aware that there are indeed still quaint, picturesque little local markets in Europe, even in the largest cities, but there are also thriving farmers markets in Los Angeles and Manhattan, but obviously that doesn’t mean all the residents buy all of their foodstuffs from them all of the time.)
I think you pretty much nailed it. Except I think it’s more than just produce. The OP also mentioned cheese, bread, and meats. I think it would be more accurate to say the difference is between prepared foods and groceries.
I would agree with those who say that–as far as prepared/restaurant food is concerned–this works both ways (i.e.-- for Americans eating overseas, and Furriners eating in the USA). But when it comes to groceries, the USA kinda sucks.
As you point out–the “good” cheese and bread etc. is available in the U.S. But the thing is, a visitor won’t easily find it. They have to ask someone who eats quality groceries where to find it, and you’ll pay a premium price for it. In most places if traveled in the world “good” groceries are considered the norm and are priced accordingly.
For example: for the price of Velveeta or some other plasticky factory-made cheese in the USA, I can choose from 3 or 4 different varieties of yummy, high-quality, non-colored, no added junk/preservatives cheese in the Netherlands.
That same cheese I get in NL would be called Imported Gouda here and costs 3 times as much as the pretty crappy “basic factory-made cheese” you’d find at Safeway.
And don’t even get me started on Yoo-Hoo vs. Chocomel, two chocolate milk drinks that have similar labels/colors and are marketed in pretty much the same way. Yoo-Hoo is American, Chocomel is Dutch. One drink contains:
WATER, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, WHEY (FROM MILK).
CONTAINS LESS THAN 2%: COCOA (ALKALI PROCESS), NONFAT DRY MILK, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS, SODIUM CASEINATE (FROM MILK), CORN SYRUP SOLIDS, CALCIUM PHOSPHATE, DIPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, PALM OIL, GUAR GUM, XANTHAN GUM, MONO AND DIGLYCERIDES, SALT, SPICE, SOY LECITHIN, , SUCRALOSE, …And the other drink contains:
Yes, Europeans shop in big (though not *that *big, usually) corporate-owned supermarkets just as we do here. The difference is your average corporate mega-grocery in Europe would never sell an abomination like Yoo-Hoo. Who in the hell would buy it?
Pretty much the same thing goes for packaged cookies, candies, soup mixes, sauces, etc.---- all your basic “convenience” (pre-made) groceries.
Yes, of course there are NO artificial ingredients or chemical preservatives in anything sold anywhere in Europe, as no self-respecting European would even ever entertain the very idea of using possibly unhealthy products like cigarettes or wine with sulfates…
(Except most Western European and virtually all Eastern European countries smoke more cigs per capita than the US does, and while American winemakers have been legally forced to list the usage of sulfates since back in 1987, EU winemakers have only had to label their sulfate usage since 2006.)
There are indeed many, many things to love about the various countries and cultures found in Europe, (in particular some of their truly wonderful food & drink traditions) but to try and pretend that the entire mollyfocking continent is some kind of a natural-foods utopia with absolutely no consumer products that are every bit as unhealthy as what you can find in the good ol’ obese, drunken, chain-smoking US of A is a steaming pile of le horseshit…
Bullshit. When I’ve been in the Big E, good food cost. It wasn’t outrageous (mostly), but it wasn’t any better than you’d get here. The local specialties were usually cheaper, fresher, and tastier - but that’s not really saying much. That was always going to be limited to a one or two styles of bread and the locally-favored meat.
Which is nice and all, but I don’t recall being able to get fresh peaches or tasty pecans for a reasonable price like I can in any supermarket here. In Germany, the peanut butter was a horrific monstrosity made from the bones of abandoned children, which the locals tortured themselves with, apparently because they hate themselves. (I was warned of this and tried it anyway for fun. Fun did not occur.) The beer was good, but German food was considered so unpleasant on the whole that every decent restaurant served fucking Italian.
Edit: and that’s not even saying that half the stuff you find in a European grocery is exactly the same damn stuff you find in the US anyway, frequently canned/packaged/bottled in the same factories.
Is that because the US one is so terrible? Or partially because the US requires more specific descriptions? I remember seeing some pet treats (one product) that had separate ingredient sheets for each language, included US English and UK English. The US ingredient list was way longer for the same product. E.g. “stabilizer” could mean many of the other ingredients.
What’s true in a few big cities is not true throughout an entire country. I can say that from personal experience, at least where Italy, Greece and Ukraine are involved. That experience is what prompted my initial comment to begin with. The food in those countries does not all come from massive corporate farms and factories as it does in much of the West. There are still relatively small independent farms and local butchers who buy animals for slaughter from medium and small local farms. In modern Ukraine in particular, much of the raw foodstuffs still are sold in small local markets. Supermarkets can be found in the big cities but they have big city prices that many Ukrainians can’t afford very often - hence they turn to the smaller local markets that exist virtually everywhere. Not many of the local markets are part of chains or franchises and their sources tend to be local.
The former, in this particular case. If a foodstuff contains the ingredients I Love Me, Vol. I listed, it would have to be declared on the label in Europe, just as in the USA. I don’t believe the US does require more specific descriptions.
I just came back from California and I can’t say I have anything to complain about except the coffee and definitely not the beer, but then again, the people I hang around with know where to get better stuff than Budweiser and the likes.
You can get that here. My son hates it (he doesn’t like Organic milk much at all, but hates the grass fed stuff), but you can get it. Still, about half our milk is organic grass fed, about half our beef. If it weren’t for my son, this is where our milk would come from http://www.cedarsummit.com/ (our cream does come from here and it is wonderful!)
Its hard to find mutton mainstream, but possible. (It isn’t even hard in the Twin Cities to find milk from grass fed cows). And goat and camel if you go into a Somali neighborhood.
What is really hard to find in the U.S. is unpasturized milk. Its generally not legal to sell and does taste significantly different.
I’m a co-op/farmers market shopper where possible.
Its hard to make generalizations about the world in general. Someone from Thailand and someone from Germany have two different food cultures and neither may like food in America, but perhaps for completely different reasons. Food grown locally tends to taste better, so if you have grown up somewhere rural with farmer’s markets, that is very different than someone who grows up in the middle of the city and shops only at the Piggly Wiggly.
Also, most mainstream restaurants suck. If you are a tourist in America, you aren’t likely to be finding the gems of the American restaurant business, those small places with great food. If I went out of the country and my meals were the quality of TGIFridays or Chili’s, I’d think the food sucked too.
Really? What’s “stabilizer” then? Looking at the YooHoo label, I’d tag probably the guar gum, xanthan gum, and lecithin in that category; it’s possible that a few other of the ingredients are as well, depending on what they mean by “stabilizing” a product. (Could be emulsification like the lecithin and xanthan gum suggest, could be a preservative of sorts.) What exactly is the Chocomel hiding under that catch-all term?
Well, yeah, but I’d like an € for every time I’ve told another Spaniard to steer away from “Spanish restaurants” abroad, because what they call paella will be mush, the beer will cost more than a whole bottle of brandy back home, and in general it will leave them more homesick rather than less.
Your visitors’ problem was, at least in part, that they didn’t realize and prepare themselves in advance for food to be different; specially if they’re from Northern Europe, the US doesn’t seem to be “an exotic country”. They expected the bread to be what they think of as “bread”, the potatoes to match their idea of “potatoes” (rather than probably being a completely different variety) and so forth.
I live in the Twin Cities. I am a mile (almost exactly) outside the St. Paul City limits and less than five from downtown St. Paul. In my freezer is a a quarter of grass fed beef raised by a farmer I know personally and butchered by a guy he knows, the cow was raised about twenty minutes from here (and I could ask her name, she had one).
My sister is in a town in North Dakota of a few thousand people. Most of what is around her are huge factory farms for soybeans or sugar beets or sunflowers…but what isn’t around her is corporate grocery stores. You drive an hour to get to one. And so, people have extensive gardens and extensive farmers markets, and they still can their green beans and tomatos for winter.
But tourists from the U.S. don’t tend to end up in small towns in the Ukraine or Greece, and tourists from Europe generally don’t visit towns not quite in the middle of North Dakota.
Plus I doubt people who can’t afford food in the Ukraine are visiting Disney World and complaining about the quality of the food.