Author Topic: 16 People On Things They Couldn’t Believe About America Until They Moved Here  (Read 48516 times)

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perpetua

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Oh, I know, but we're discussing portion sizes and the shock at them by non-USers (or at least I was), and that shocks me. Even our full englishes don't tend to be that huge. I just can't wrap my head around how the restaurants think anyone needs *that* much food in one sitting, especially when it's something you can't box up and take the leftovers home. The wastage must be phenomenal - surely they'd lose less money if they served properly sized portions in the first place, or is the 'bigger is better' attitude so ingrained over there that they won't lure the customers in without it?

Katana_Geldar

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Interesting fact: in the US entrees are the main meal. Everywhere else they come before the main meal.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entrée

iridaceae

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Oh, I know, but we're discussing portion sizes and the shock at them by non-USers (or at least I was), and that shocks me. Even our full englishes don't tend to be that huge. I just can't wrap my head around how the restaurants think anyone needs *that* much food in one sitting, especially when it's something you can't box up and take the leftovers home. The wastage must be phenomenal - surely they'd lose less money if they served properly sized portions in the first place, or is the 'bigger is better' attitude so ingrained over there that they won't lure the customers in without it?

Most people who are going to order something like that are going to eat the entire thing. Again it is often eaten by people who have been up and working hard - hard manual labor- for hours.

Most people if they can't finish their meals take home doggie bags.

And personally I find all this harping on "proper sizes" of meals to be annoying.

Venus193

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There are Irish pubs in my neighborhood who do the full Irish breakfast on weekends.  The last time I had it about 10 years ago I almost collapsed outside the place afterward.  Nothing in it will reheat well, so no doggie bags are generally requested.

I have yet to see people sharing something like this, but that sounds like the best solution.  If enough people did this then US restaurants would probably reduce their portion sizes.  A diner that was in my area had such huge portions when they opened that every customer was requesting a doggie bag.  A month later they reduced their portions by a third.

Jones

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I don't go to Denny's often, as there isn't one near here, but when I took the kids on a spring break weekend this year we walked around the block and chose a Denny's for our dinner. We ordered a plate of dipping veggies, a plate of fries (chips) to share, and an adult dinner--with two small empty plates please. The waitress was not shocked, apparently they get a few sharers at that establishment. The food was good and a great value for the money. We took the leftover vegg back to the hotel and nibbled them while watching Nickelodeon that night.

I think that's why the portions are larger; when an establishment caters to those with a large appetite (night workers and laborers) those people want to perceive a value for their hard earned cash. Add 10 cents (or so) to the bill and fry up another potato to make the customer's plate fuller, and give a heavy eater the perception they got soooo muuuuch food at such a great price, keeping them happy? Yep!
« Last Edit: November 18, 2013, 08:16:18 AM by Jones »

Margo

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Going back a few posts to the comment in the original article about fruit and veg being expensive compared to meat - I think the person making that comment was originally from Bangladesh - I suspect that there is little factory farming , so meat is likely to be a *lot* more expensive, in the same way as buying free-range is more expensive. Ditto the comment about beef being preferred to chicken.

Historically, in the UK, chicken was a luxury and beef was a more 'everyday' meat, because chicken was more expensive to raise. Once factory farming / battery farming came in, chicken got much, much cheaper, (and also a lot less healthy and tasty!) so was no longer the luxury it used to be.

I think it depends a lot on what meat and what veg you buy.

Junk food being cheaper than cooking - I remember a couple of years ago reading an article in (I think) the Guardian newspaper here (in the UK) which looked at this, and at the cost of trying to feed a family / eat healthily for those on very low incomes. Some of the points it riased were;

 - no car & no easily accessible supermarket = less choice, and higher prices.
- no car = much harder to get savings by buying in bulk
- low income = much harder to get the 'capital' to allow you to buy in bulk, even though this might be significantly cheaper long term
- cost of gas/electricity = having the stove on for long enough to cook cheap., healthy meals may be an insurmountable problem - so stews / casseroles . curries made with cheap cuts of meat, lentils and other pulses become less practical, as you can't afford the cooking time.
- cost of electricity and ability to meet the bills may mean you can't afford to run a freezer, or can't be sure that you can keep it running consitently, so  cooking large quantities and freezing them for future use is impractical
- limited storage space / overcrowded housing - makes it very hard to store larger quantities of food.

there is also the limited education issue - it's certainly possible to eat both well and cheaply, but you do need to be able to cook. And that can be hard to learn, if you haven't ever been taught, particularly if making a mistake means you have to miss a meal.


Visiting the US from the UK, the things I noticed were:

- People driving everywhere . not only for journeys where some form of transport was necessary, but also much shorter ones (for instance, driving between different stores within he same (smallish) town centre.

- portion sizes. They seemed very big to me. I think even taking into account the culture of doggy bags in restaurants it seemed to me that what is a 'normal sized' portion for (most) Americans in just larger than a 'normal sized' portion in the UK.
- Insularity - among individuals, there's obviously a huge range of outlooks and levels of knowledge, but I was surprised at how little National, let alone International news you seem to get. 

- The size of the place. I thin this is one of those things you can *know*, but not really appreciate (incidentally, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine who has visited  Europe from Alaska a few times. She was describing a conversation she'd had with someone in Germany - my friend had been appalled that the German people had set out to drive to an event, in the snow, without taking supplies of food, water, blankets etc. They pointed out that at no point on their journey would they be more than about a mile from a town or village, so the ability to trek for help, or to dig in and survive for several days, if they broke down, was not really a consideration.





Thipu1

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Believe it or not, the size of restaurant meals in the US can be economical for diners. 

There was a steak place we liked because one visit gave us six servings for the price of two.   There was the meal we ate on the premises, the meal we ate at home from his left overs and the meal we ate at home from my left overs.

We'd just order the prime rib a bit more rare than we liked.  We'd eat the outer portion in the restaurant and take the more rare inner parts home.  They were perfect when reheated. 

We weren't the only people who did this.  Doggie bags were almost a given.   

Venus193

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Another food thing:  One thing I noticed in London when I made a few acquaintances there was that refrigerators are smaller than the smallest apartment fridges in the US.  Someone I met who had a prestigious job in education had a fridge that was 3/4 the size of mine, which is a standard size for a one-bedroom apartment.  I'm always wanting a larger one, but the space allotted for it in my kitchen can't accommodate a larger one.

With regard to leftovers from restaurants, it can be more cost-effective to order something big and make three meals out of it, especially if it's something not worth the effort to make in a small quantity.

sparksals

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If you think the US is big, check out Canada, which is the 2nd largest country in the world in land mass.  It is very easy to drive across a State or two in the US in one day, but it can take days to drive N/S in a province.   


I was also VERY surprised that the US can be so conservative and have strong religious views.  Coming from Canada, which is very diverse, but still very secular - religion is more private.  I am always surprised by the number of churches here.  We were driving through KY a few years ago and there were churches everywhere, but it was very rural.... I dont' know where the people were coming from for all these churches.


My town in MN has about 10 churches within a few miles.

On the east coast, where the states are much smaller than on the west coast, I can drive from Maine through New Hampshire, then through Massachusetts and Rhode Island and into Connecticut in less than 5 hours.

In Texas, that amount of time might take you to the next city.

As for the churches, don't forget that a good number of the early settlers from Europe came here for religious reasons. The country has a long history of religion affecting the laws, population movement, and popular culture. Stands to reason that religion is very important in many areas of the country.

As for all the churches--many of these small churches have correspondingly small congregations.

One small city I lived in had two Catholic churches, kitty-corner across the street from each other. One was founded by Irish immigrants, the other by Ukrainian immigrants. The small city I live in now once had two Catholic churches, the one founded by Irish immigrants and the one founded by the French Canadian workers who came down to work in the mills. Since at the time all Masses were conducted in Latin, it wasn't just a language barrier that prompted them to form separate churches--I suspect the churches were a stabilizing social force and helped to create community, as well as a place where you could meet people who shared your cultural background.


The churches we saw across rural KY were large, amongst a very flat land that didn't seem to have many inhabitants.  They could have lived off the main roads, though.   


Thanks for the very interesting history.  Makes a lot of sense.

sparksals

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Re: 16 People On Things They Couldn’t Believe About America
« Reply #99 on: November 18, 2013, 11:19:28 AM »
GlitterisMyDrug you must live in the Southwest ; the roadside cross memorials are mainly found there. (Also Central and South America- kids didn't believe me when I described them after coming back from Venezuela as a kid).

We see them plenty here in the Midwest.  Crosses, artificial flowers, balloons, etc.  It can be a sensitive issue as the city/county/state must decide how long to leave the memorial up.


Montana too. 

perpetua

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Oh, I know, but we're discussing portion sizes and the shock at them by non-USers (or at least I was), and that shocks me. Even our full englishes don't tend to be that huge. I just can't wrap my head around how the restaurants think anyone needs *that* much food in one sitting, especially when it's something you can't box up and take the leftovers home. The wastage must be phenomenal - surely they'd lose less money if they served properly sized portions in the first place, or is the 'bigger is better' attitude so ingrained over there that they won't lure the customers in without it?

Most people who are going to order something like that are going to eat the entire thing. Again it is often eaten by people who have been up and working hard - hard manual labor- for hours.

Most people if they can't finish their meals take home doggie bags.


Well yes, and doggy bags are a great idea, but it would be difficult to take home half an omelette, was my original point. Things that aren't good for reheating, I would imagine, are designed to be eaten in one go in the restaurant rather than taking home.

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And personally I find all this harping on "proper sizes" of meals to be annoying.

I'm sorry you feel like that, but this thread *is* about 'things people couldn't believe about America', and the gigantic portion sizes is something that the rest of the world does tend to see as not-usual and has difficulty wrapping their heads around, for many reasons which would probably be too political or close to the knuckle to get into here.

sparksals

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Quote
Online money transfer between bank is done via cheque – In USA (at least in PA), whenever I want to transfer money to someone, the bank will issue a cheque and post it to the address of the cheque recipient. The recipient will then cash in the cheque. This procedure will take few days normally and applies even to customers who transfer money to another customers within the same bank.

Is this one true?  That is NUTS!


I wish we had the money transfer system so widely used in Canada.  You can literally email money to another person.  It is an instant transfer between banks. 

sparksals

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Online money transfer between bank is done via cheque – In USA (at least in PA), whenever I want to transfer money to someone, the bank will issue a cheque and post it to the address of the cheque recipient. The recipient will then cash in the cheque. This procedure will take few days normally and applies even to customers who transfer money to another customers within the same bank.

Is this one true?  That is NUTS!

That's not how it works for everyone.  I can transfer money purely electronically through my bank.  I've not had to wait for someone to receive a check for the amount I sent online.  Chase definitely lets you send account to account payments.


I can set up transfer from bank to bank if I set up the accounts first.  When I went to England, my relatives prepaid for Spamalot and our hotel, so I owed them some money.  Once I returned to the US, I had to set up their bank account number in mine.  It took several days for it to be verified and approved.  Once it was approved, it was a seamless transfer.  I have the same setup for my other bank accounts to go into this one if I need to transfer.


The Canadian version is an instant email.  When planning our reunion in Canada, to make it easy for everyone, people emailed to our designated email address.  There is a password the recipient provides.  The email address has to be on file with the bank.  Works like a charm and is very easy, seamless.  I really wish the US had this system. 

Jones

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I've used account transfers in my credit union many times; it's useful and immediately posts; I haven't tried with a bank before.

Judah

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Quote
Online money transfer between bank is done via cheque – In USA (at least in PA), whenever I want to transfer money to someone, the bank will issue a cheque and post it to the address of the cheque recipient. The recipient will then cash in the cheque. This procedure will take few days normally and applies even to customers who transfer money to another customers within the same bank.

Is this one true?  That is NUTS!

This isn't my experience.  I have accounts at a credit union, a small local bank, and a major bank; I can transfer funds electronically from any of them, no checks necessary.  I suppose it's possible that some banks don't offer electronic transfers, but I've been able to do it for years.  People in the U.S. do use paper checks a lot more than people in other countries seem to, though.  I don't know why some of us are so attached to the paper.
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