Culture Shock: European, American Gastronomy

Americans eat out a lot; there’s no denying it. Students pick up Chick-Fil-A after practice or go to Casa Rod if nobody feels like cooking. It’s normal to us; a way of life.

Essentially, anywhere you travel in the United Sates, you will see familiar faces, even if you are miles from home. McDonalds, Olive Garden, Red Lobster and Pizza Hut exist all over the country.

In Europe, this isn’t the case. Although the streets may be full of restaurants, there are typically fewer chains. There are many home-style restaurants that cook traditional foods indigenous to that region.

As globalization does affect everyone, there have also been a rising number of international restaurants springing up in Europe, particularly those of Turkish, Japanese, Chinese and Italian origin.

Overall, I would say the quality of the food is better in Europe than in the United States. Even the Turkish kebab döner (pita bread filled with thinly sliced lamb and cabbage), which can be bought on every corner in Germany, and are considered street food, are usually quite good.

Of course, the food also costs a bit more there, but since people generally don’t eat out as much, it isn’t seen burdensome.

My mother jokes that she gains at least ten pounds each time we go to Europe on account of the good food. I think the thing I like the most is the abundance of good bread.

There are bakeries everywhere; you can’t walk down a street without seeing at least one. They always have fresh bread: crusty baguettes and buttery croissants in France and thick dark bauernbrot in Germany.

Bakeries also tend to have copious amounts of cakes and pastries, all of which are homemade. A café I visited this summer had raspberry cake, strawberry cake, apricot cake, lemon poppy cake, streusel Kuchen, and Bienenstich (bee sting cake, literally translated), all in one place. You can imagine why my mother says she gains weight!

Overall, I believe that Europeans have found a more desirable balance between eating out and cooking at home. It is seen as an occasion, and therefore enjoyed more.

I also believe our country’s high obesity rate, (the highest in the world), can be partially attributed to our fondness of fast food. If everyone ate out half as often, we would collectively shave off a few pounds, as well as save some money. On top of that, we would enjoy eating out more, and may be willing to spend a bit more on a nicer restaurant.

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