Cultural habits, Storytelling

Things I don’t understand in America- Food Edition

Every year is the same when it comes to Thanksgiving. It’s usually me and Josh and every other year we either receive family for dinner, or we go munch in someone’s else house. This year we were alone again, in the Airbnb, we very limited space to cook. Well, I had limited space to cook, Josh only cooked the first two years we were together and I took over. 

The past couple of years, we were buying the whole meal pre-made from Whole Foods, but this year, why not cook in a kitchen that it’s not yours? With little supply and space and with a stove that is more like an RV type of appliance. 

I made it through. We had all the shenanigans like turkey breast, homemade cranberry sauce, gravy, mashed potato, and two desserts. For two people. We are not afraid of eating. 

While cooking all that food, I thought about all the types of food we eat here in America, and for some of us, still looks weird. So I made a list of the foods that make no sense for me, even after all these years living here. The way people eat tells a lot about their culture. Since I watched a show with Padma Lakshmi, called Taste of a Nation on Hulu, I realized that everything we eat in America was brought by immigrants and adapted to the American palate. To my surprise, even the most American food of all, the hotdogs, are not American. German. Hamburger? German too. 

Taste of a Nation on Hulu

In the first season, Padma traveled across the United States, getting more information about how the immigrants influenced the daily American eating habits. In a particular episode, she interviewed her mom, that came to America to study and looking for a better life, while Padma stayed back with her grandparents in India, was so honest I cried. How hard it must be to leave your kid back home, while you are in a completely foreign land trying to make it out. I left my parents back home when I left, but I was also 26. And sick of my country. 

On the show, as the Padma interacts and cooks with the chefs, she also gets to know their personal stories and how they are keeping their homeland food culture alive. Like one of the Native Americans said, while she was serving the food and I quote “It’s a spiritual connection”. American food is an increment of all the cultures we have here. 

Based on that I made a list of American foods I don’t understand. And it’s not influenced by any other culture, but born and raised Americans themselves.

Mac and Cheese

Taste of the Nation.

Mac and Cheese are dated from 1769, according to our old and most reliable source Google. During the Great Depression, it was commercialized by Kraft Foods, in 1937. I understand the fact that you eat this when don’t have any other option, but this being consider a side food at any restaurant is a disparity.

I was first introduced to Mac and Cheese by my American husband, back in 2013. I don’t trust his cooking abilities, but the mac and cheese were bland beyond my expectations. It’s like chewing a rubber band. Yes, I did that when I was a child, so please move along. 

2 out of 10. Hard pass.

Sloppy Joe’s

You mix this with ground beef and put in a hamburger bun.

A tomato sauce based ground beef sandwich that looks like some kind of regurgitated food. It’s ground beef in a bun. Originated in Iowa, dated back to the 1940s and created by a worker named Joe, the loose sandwich, got its name because of the fast-food counter type of food. 

Again, Americans sustain their bodies with easy to make food. Since it’s a fast pace culture of, working to succeed in American capitalism dreams, people don’t pay much attention to how they are feeding themselves. Or others. You work the entire day and you get home have to be creative on what to cook for dinner for your kids? Nope. Sloppy joes for everyone.   

5 out of 10. I ate a couple of times, but then start learning other recipes. 

Road Kill Steak

This was on the menu of Texas Road House, a super popular and cheap chain restaurant here in America. As far as I know, Roadkill is the term used for the animal killed in the road and the carcass is left to rot on the side. Yet, the restaurant industry thinks is cute to serve that kind of food. 

Roadkill is the leftover steaks, like the pieces that the chef trim on the meat and put aside, to not waste the food. They glue the pieces back together and put it on the menu. I didn’t know what roadkill was when I ordered. Sometimes my language barrier gets in the way and for some reason, I just saw it was a different type of cut. It wasn’t. I felt like somehow I was eating Rose, the Raccoon, from Curios Creations of Christine McDowell. 

As soon as I took the first bite, I couldn’t eat. I told the waitress and she removed from the check. I still tipped accordingly, it was not her faulted I was tripping when I order that dish. 

0 out of 10. All I could think about all the carcass left to rot on the road, being on my plate.

Brown Sugar Beans

Photo retrieved from FoodNetwork Website

From the same network that brought you Sloppy Joes, comes a new delicacy called Brown Sugar Beans! It’s exactly what it stands for Sweet Beans. I understand that different cultures have their version of it like Japan has the Red Bean Mochi and pancakes, also Korea. My country is famous for the bean stew called Feijoada, but it’s savory, not even close to being sweet. 

We also eat beans daily, so imagine my surprise and many other Brazilians when they eat the beans, and it’s sweet. And it comes from a can, not a pressure cooker. My mom threw a fit when she was visiting. 

7 out of 10. I like beans and I rather have any beans added to my lunch than skip it altogether. 

Waldorf Salad

This big glob of salad. Photo retrieved from FoodNetwork

My mother-in-law to go-to dish. As many different occasions, we spent there, that salad popped up on the table. It’s Josh’s biggest peeve. He warned me before we eat, and I even recreated the scene for the script I’m worked on, for the Nickelodeon contest pilot episode. 

What could go wrong when you mix Celery, grapes, apples, and Mayo? Everything. 

There are multiple versions of that salad, my sweet Jane, Josh’s mom, used about 6 full spatulas of mayo to mix it all up. She doesn’t measure, she just goes as it, please. And I learned how to skip it every time. Or I usually clean the grapes with a napkin. Level 10 of difficulty, I do not recommend it. 

5 out of 10. I respect my mother-in-law for trying her best.

As I said many times before, I love talking about food. I enjoy learning about how different cultures come together to create and keep history alive through food. I love cooking too. Like Native America from the show said “It’s a spiritual connection” and I couldn’t agree more. 

2 thoughts on “Things I don’t understand in America- Food Edition”

  1. I’m from the US and I’m definitely not a fan of any of these. But I do know a lot of people that are. One weird thing I see every Thanksgiving is marshmallows on sweet potato casseroles. I haven’t tasted it but when I think marshmallows I think dessert not savory dish 😅

    Grislean | gemlesschosen.com

Leave a Reply