People often give America a bad rep for not having deep rooted culinary traditions. Although I agree that most US inventions aren’t the most refined, I think the States have produced some of the most delicious creative creative dishes. Quite a few classic American dishes that come to mind and that are finger-licking good would be the cheeseburger, carrot cake, crab cakes, pulled pork sandwiches, spare ribs, mac-n-cheese, chocolate chip cookies and fried chicken. Comfort food & carbs galore!
What I’ve noticed about American food – keeping LA in mind specifically:
1. Many places cater to a specific niche. Think: slow-pressed juices, a grilled cheese shop, fish tacos only, a bratwurst restaurant.
2. The service, wherever you eat, is GREAT. Customers come first in America, and many people in the service industry partly live on tips. If, in Amsterdam, you dare ask for anything slightly different than what’s on the menu (say a certain dish but without the olives), you’ll get a death stare. On menus in LA, you can pick add ons, side dishes (for brunch those are things like avocado on the side, truffle fries, artichokes, a fruit plate), leave things out. Whatever you want: you get…
3. …although, I’ve been paying attention and spotting a trend. It’s now a hip(star) thing to have a very limited menu with for example only four kinds of high quality coffee. That’s it, and only the fine
4. Many people are incredibly educated. In any sandwich shop, they’ll know about gluten, wholewheat, sodium and what not.
5. Sweets play a big part in the food culture, and are tied to certain events. Wherever you go for lunch, there will be red velvet cake, carrot cake, cheese cake, cookies, brownies, blondies, almond rolls, and coffee buns (by now you get the picture right?) displayed. And don’t even get me started on the isles of chocolate bars at any supermarket.
6. Flavors are stronger. Everything is salter or sweeter than I’m used to.
7. I was in the dark about the existence of these typical American foods: tater tots (I was in the dark about their existence!), cheddar cheese popcorn (gross), red velvet pancakes (delicioso), Reese’s pieces (mweh, they’re allright).
8. They make marriages of two good things, and then ruin them. (Kind of the same divorce rate as in regular marriages). Think of hamburger soup – who DOES that – corn dogs, cornets.
9. It’s normal to ‘bag’ dishes you didn’t finish. Asking for a doggy bag in Amsterdam would be totally frowned upon, and I think most places wouldn’t even give you a doggy bag. I’ve done it here once, and let me tell you: pancakes do taste incredibly good as breakfast the next day, with a side dish of Modern Family episodes.
10. Brunch is the favorite time of day for many people. It’s often a moment celebrated with friends, by going out to favorite or brand new restaurants. Dishes are often shared, which I love, and people splurge with deserts. Some even opt for a boozy brunch. And when I say some, I obviously mean myself, at around 1 in the afternoon today.