Observations About America Part 2 – Food & Drink

Friday, October 29, 2010

Everyone knows American’s love their food, so I won’t bore anyone with accounts of large portions, burgers, and a shocking number of obese people. Here are a few things we noticed that neither of us had considered in the past:

  1. Crisps (or chips as they are called in the USA) are really expensive! As an example, the RRP on a large bag of Doritos is $4 +tax. This works out to about £3, and the same bag would be around £1.50 at home. I’m not sure as to why this is since other food products seem to be cheaper overall.
  2. Also with crisps, I’d say around 80% of packets come in some sort of cheese flavour (the rest mainly being meat and spicy variations of cheese and meat). By the end of the trip I was seriously craving twiglets and anything in salt and vinegar flavour. We eventually found some salt and vinegar Pringles at a petrol station in California – they didn’t last long!
  3. Popcorn is a big deal. Supermarkets have popcorn shelves, there are popcorn shops, and every amusement park has fresh popcorn stalls dotted around it. Its even given as a thank you gift – and often in a collectible tin. Being a huge popcorn fan (strictly salted or butter), I found myself buying some at every opportunity!
  4. Drinks are rarely priced on restaurant menus. This was frustrating because we were trying to do everything on a budget. As a result we often didn’t order any and stuck to tap water which is given automatically in almost every restaurant.
  5. Another point with tap water is that there are fountains all over the place. From trails in National Parks to the queues at Disneyland. Interestingly many of these fountains are located right near stalls or shops which sell water at 2-3$ a bottle. Seeing water given out so freely was a refreshing change form the UK, where often the only way to quench your thirst is to pay for a drink, and many bars now refuse to give out tap water.
  6. Light beer is just as popular (if not more popular) than regular beer. It seems Americans enjoy drinking beer more for the taste than the alcohol content – probably how it should be! Also with beer, alcohol percentage doesn’t have to be stated on the bottle.
  7. Chicken soup is served all over the place. It can be found as a starter in most American-type diners, including chains such as Applebee’s and Chili’s. This was great since we both enjoy a bowl with our meals, though we soon discovered many places seem to serve an identical type – suggesting it wasn’t ‘homemade’ as quoted.
  8. Not an observation but we both loved Olive Garden and Quiznos. Olive Garden serves top quality Italian food at very reasonable prices, and Quiznos is basically Subway but much better. I’m sure they would both do well in the UK.

Food related photo: popcorn and Budweiser at a baseball game – I felt very American at that moment!