22 August 2013

Cross Cultural Cuisine

I like food.

Often one of the most interesting parts of traveling to other countries is sampling exotic flavours and different ways of cooking and serving stuff. But to be honest, I hadn’t expected my culinary adventures in the United States to be quite as educational as they were. For a country with so much in common with ours, they have some crazy ideas of how to eat.

First of all, of course, were the famous American portion sizes. A small size of anything in America is likely to be slightly bigger than the equivalent medium size in Australia. So when you couple that with the sort of masculine insecurity that won’t allow me to order a small of anything, anytime we went out for ice cream (we seemed to do that a lot) I ended up eating enough of it to float a small frigate. Or at least submerge some insanely large chocolate chips. Chocolate nuggets would be closer to the truth.

That was awesome.

Americans are famous for consuming too much sugar, but I don’t think it’s just because they eat desserts the size of basketballs. They also haven’t quite got the same sense of savoury and sweet that we do in Australia. Asking for sweet pancakes for breakfast smothered in maple syrup is no guarantee that those sweet pancakes won’t have bacon in them. There's a chance your basket of dinner rolls at a restaurant might also have blueberry muffins in it. And any land that has such thing as a jello salad (which is exactly what it sounds like – fruit suspended in green jelly and masquerading as a salad alongside your coleslaw and hotdogs) has obviously let the line between lunch and dessert get a bit wibbly. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing.

Even the steak sauce over there can’t make up its mind. They have a sauce called A1, which would best be described as sweet and sour gravy. Give it a go, but maybe order it on the side for your first attempt.

And finally while on a beach trip to Ocean City, I was introduced to a product called salt water taffy. Quite naturally, I expected it to be salty, or at least tangy. Not in the least. Taffy is basically edible blue-tac with flavours and sugar added. Apparently it’s called salt water taffy because it is generally associated with the beach, but rather like its close relative the salt water crocodile, it can show up in just about any environment, saline or otherwise. At least if it doesn’t turn out to be as delicious as it’s supposed to be, you can use it to stick your postcards to your bedroom wall.

I'm not really sold on the whole root beer thing either. It's sweet and fizzy, which are usually a good start, but it has an after taste that makes me think of cough medicine for some reason. But without the health benefits, I suspect.

I had a hot dog at the baseball stadium. Make of that what you will.



Garry with 2 Rs
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