What is the most unusual thing about the American diet to people of other nationalities?

In this thread Nom_de_Plume asks for suggestions on what to serve Thai guests as a traditional American meal. The question made me wonder [the title of this thread], but I’ll post here so as not to hijack:
What about the traditional American diet would take the most ‘getting used to’ to most of the rest of the world? I realize that this is a very broad question: if you’re Vietnamese the answer is different than if you’re French the answer is different than if you’re Indian is different than if you’re Russian, etc. etc., and then there’s the matter of “what part of America” since southern and midwestern and northeastern and other regions have different specialties and norms (in my own family some New England born in-laws couldn’t quite get used to the flour/skillet frying of pork chops or sidemeat with vegetables). So any answers, whether specific or general, welcome and appreciated.

In general I would guess that the amount of meat we consume and the number of things we deep fry would be strange, but I have no basis for that.

I’ll answer for my wife, MIL, and step-kids who are from Ukraine. Nothing from mainstream American cuisine is all that exotic to them. What is unusual to them is the quantity of certain things that we eat. People here, not unusually, have meat a couple times a day. Especially to those who lived during the Soviet era, a couple times a week was more the norm. Also, while beef is eaten in Ukraine, it isn’t as popular as it is here. They generally seem to prefer pork. During a visit to Kiev, I don’t recall seeing beef (other than jellied tongue) anywhere but on a bun at McDonalds.

I’m in Canada.

Deep frying and the eating of raw/rare hamburger would top my list. I do eat deep fried food, but maybe once every couple of weeks, no daily, like they seem to in the south. And the raw/rare hamburger thing just makes my stomach turn.

Does rare steak also bother you, or just ground meat?

A Russian I worked with was flabbergasted at the idea of skim milk and diet soda.

I was told by a German friend that he didn’t expect bread and other starches to be on the same plate. I guess it was Bread OR Potato.

German and British visitors have remarked on two things: how large the quantities are, and how good the beef is.

Just ground meat. Because I know that sometimes brain matter and other…non meat products get in to ground meat, and I certainly wouldn’t want to eat that raw. Mad cow, anyone?

Prions aren’t destroyed by heat, so if you’re afraid of mad cow, you either need to start bleaching your beef or avoid hamburgers all together. A prion is just as bad whether it’s raw or well-done.


the quantity.

brain matter is totally a meat product

Two things near the top of the list for Japanese would be how sweet so many sauces and desserts are here, and the size of portions in restaurants.

I live in the UK, so was not surprised by US cuisine.
However I was startled by the offer in Vegas of:

three ‘all you can eat’ buffets in one day for just $40 :eek::smack:

I sure never knew that raw/rare hamburger was considered a traditional part of the American diet. It’s not something I ever eat.

I wouldn’t touch raw meat unless starving.

Ever increasingly at fancy restaurants (think the $40 burger places in Vegas) or hip restaurants (the try hard kind of hip), I’ve been noticing that they all say that their standard hamburger is cooked medium rare and if you’d like different, you have to request. This just horrifies me, because I’ve always been taught that ground beef must be cooked through (even if I do like my steaks medium rare).

How big the portion sizes are.

From Australia, I don’t know about weird specific foodstuffs, (apart from ‘biscuits’ as a savoury item :eek:) but there must be some interesting additives in a lot of foods, because in both my trips to the US I had indigestion at least once a day for at least the first week or so. Luckily I was able to locate industrial quantities* of antacids at local chemists (drugstores?)

Seriously how long does it normally take you to go through 100 antacid tablets?

When I lived in Spain, my Spanish roommates were flabbergasted that I ate raw vegetables. They didn’t even recognize some vegetables, such as celery, in their whole, raw form. They also thought peanut butter looked so disgusting that they wouldn’t even try it.

And when I ate celery and peanut butter together, well, you can imagine the outrage and confusion.

Also, from their point of view, I ate way too many sweets. A typical meal for me includes yogurt and a piece of fruit, and sometimes I’ll eat a small piece of chocolate for dessert. In Spain, yogurt is a dessert, fruit is a dessert, and chocolate is a dessert, so they thought I was eating THREE desserts with every meal!

Cheese, I love cheese but crikey you guys eat a lot of cheese!