Author Topic: 16 People On Things They Couldn’t Believe About America Until They Moved Here  (Read 45864 times)

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sparksals

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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.




There isn't anything by design with respect to doggy bags.  Pretty much any place, anywhere, in the US and Canada you can get a doggy bag.  The only exception are buffets.  They don't want people loading up their plate to get it boxed up.


We get doggy bags all the time.  My husband frequently reheats whatever it is for lunch the next day.  I have taken home an uneaten omelette before with no problems in reheating.     
« Last Edit: November 18, 2013, 11:37:23 AM by sparksals »

MurPl1

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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.

Also, the ones you saw could have all been different denominations (Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran) and may have only had 20 people as members.  Or they could have had a split within the congregation and there are two Baptist churches.  We had that situation here.  Our Baptist church is over 100 years old.  Got a new pastor who wanted to grow the church.  They bought land, built a new church and when the time came, part of the congregation said "no thanks, we're going to stay here in our little church"  So in our town of 18K, we have two Baptist churches within a half mile of each other.  And even with that, there are many Baptists in town I know who travel to other cities for services.  (Our car-centric nature at work ;) )

Yvaine

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You're not required to eat the whole thing right there in the restaurant.

That's another thing that boggled a brain or two, that you can get part of your meal wrapped to go home with you.  On the other hand, my brain is slightly boggled that other countries don't do that.  Sure, the portions are much smaller, but what if you aren't feeling well or the appetizer was more filling than you expected?

Tough.  You don't finish your meal.

Why waste the food? I go to a restaurant, get something yummy, but it's too much to eat in one sitting. No problem! It's lunch tomorrow! If I just leave it, it's landfill.

Or the restaurants could just serve proper portion sizes in the first place. I don't get it. I've just been browsing the menu at Denny's, which was the first US chain that occurred to me off the top of my head. The portion sizes are monstrous and there isn't a single vegetable to be seen, and it really isn't the kind of stuff that would reheat well or even be easy to box up and take home.

The breakfasts in particular grabbed my attention. Do people really eat a 13oz T-bone steak plus eggs, hash browns and toast for breakfast?!

There's something called a 'hearty breakfast skillet'. It's sausage, potatoes, peppers, mushrooms, onions, topped with 2 eggs and cheese. 990 calories.

Or you could have a Philly Cheesesteak Omelette: prime rib, peppers, onions, mushrooms and melted cheese, served with hash browns *and* bread.  890 calories without the bread.

This is breakfast food? These portions are larger than a huge evening meal. My mind really does boggle. I've been watching Man V Food recently, thinking it was all exaggerated for entertainment. Obviously, not so much!

It's largely a profit-driven move rather than a customer-appetite-driven one. Restaurants figured out that they could up the size of meals pretty cheaply but raise the prices out of proportion to how much their own costs went up. And I think one mindset we do have in the US, in general, is wanting to get a bargain and "get our money's worth" out of anything, so if the price is high but it's too much food and we have to take some home, we feel subconsciously like the price was justified and we don't mind that it was hiked.

On top of that, most of us do have a really huge meal occasionally, but not as a constant thing.

But these portion sizes tend to get interpreted in the media as "this is the amount of food that every American eats three times a day," and that's just not so.

ETA: I've also experienced what kherbert mentions about being fussed over if you don't take any home. For the same reasons--it's just not going to keep in a car for hours when I'm traveling, no matter how good it was in the restaurant.

mime

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For a few years in my college days I had a BF from India. His friends back home felt he hadn't *really* been to the US until he saw four things: Disneyworld, Niagra Falls, the Grand Canyon, and Chicago. I'm not sure how that list came to be, but it was the clear impression from both his friends and his family.

He took a lot of teasing after he'd been here five years and had only been to one of those places: Chicago. We were in Minnesota, so Chicago was an easy weekend. The folks back in India didn't grasp that going to the other places was not something we could do in a 2-day weekend, or (in the case of Disneyworld) afford as a couple of college students. It's kind of interesting now that my DH (who is not the college BF) drives 80miles each way to get to work and back, and we don't think much of it.

My BF was also amazed at stories of the civil rights era. He understood this part of our history, but hadn't realized it had been so recent.   :(

I also never quite figured this out, but when I ordered milk at a restaurant once, he was appalled that it came in a glass rather than in a closed container. He told me that if his mother was here, she'd be yelling at management over that. :o  I know it isn't common to order milk here (unless you're a child), but I still don't understand what was so horrible about it.




Oh-- and as for the chocolate: I agree that Hershey's should never be held up as the standard. Unfortunately one has to try a bit to get something decent, but there are some excellent choices: consider Rogue, Chuao, Theo, and Patric.

MurPl1

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Mime, your comment about the civil rights era prompted me to want to add about the churches.  If Sparksals was in the south there were also likely white and black churches of many several denominations.  Actually, that's common across the country.  They say the most segregated time of the week in the US is Sunday morning.

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.

Also, the ones you saw could have all been different denominations (Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran) and may have only had 20 people as members.  Or they could have had a split within the congregation and there are two Baptist churches.  We had that situation here.  Our Baptist church is over 100 years old.  Got a new pastor who wanted to grow the church.  They bought land, built a new church and when the time came, part of the congregation said "no thanks, we're going to stay here in our little church"  So in our town of 18K, we have two Baptist churches within a half mile of each other.  And even with that, there are many Baptists in town I know who travel to other cities for services.  (Our car-centric nature at work ;) )


They were pretty large churches, not small churches one would expect to see in the country or a rural area.  That is why we were so surprised. 


VorFemme

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You're not required to eat the whole thing right there in the restaurant.

That's another thing that boggled a brain or two, that you can get part of your meal wrapped to go home with you.  On the other hand, my brain is slightly boggled that other countries don't do that.  Sure, the portions are much smaller, but what if you aren't feeling well or the appetizer was more filling than you expected?

Tough.  You don't finish your meal.

Why waste the food? I go to a restaurant, get something yummy, but it's too much to eat in one sitting. No problem! It's lunch tomorrow! If I just leave it, it's landfill.

Or the restaurants could just serve proper portion sizes in the first place. I don't get it. I've just been browsing the menu at Denny's, which was the first US chain that occurred to me off the top of my head. The portion sizes are monstrous and there isn't a single vegetable to be seen, and it really isn't the kind of stuff that would reheat well or even be easy to box up and take home.

The breakfasts in particular grabbed my attention. Do people really eat a 13oz T-bone steak plus eggs, hash browns and toast for breakfast?!

There's something called a 'hearty breakfast skillet'. It's sausage, potatoes, peppers, mushrooms, onions, topped with 2 eggs and cheese. 990 calories.

Or you could have a Philly Cheesesteak Omelet: prime rib, peppers, onions, mushrooms and melted cheese, served with hash browns *and* bread.  890 calories without the bread.

This is breakfast food? These portions are larger than a huge evening meal. My mind really does boggle. I've been watching Man V Food recently, thinking it was all exaggerated for entertainment. Obviously, not so much!

A lot of long distance truckers more or less live on breakfast food - it's cheaper than other meals, filling, and is fast to prepare - which means they aren't stuck waiting for a "lunch" or "dinner" item to be prepared that takes two to four times as long.

But the lack of fruits & veggies (unless someone has fruit on their oatmeal and veggies in their omelet) would have an impact over months or years...
Let sleeping dragons be.......morning breath......need I say more?

Diane AKA Traska

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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.

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As a Pennsylvanian myself, I can say that this isn't universal.  M and I have accounts in the same bank, and the transfer is applied even before I can log in to my account.
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Anniissa

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I also never quite figured this out, but when I ordered milk at a restaurant once, he was appalled that it came in a glass rather than in a closed container. He told me that if his mother was here, she'd be yelling at management over that. :o  I know it isn't common to order milk here (unless you're a child), but I still don't understand what was so horrible about it.


Just a guess based on having visited India several times with work - we were told that you should always expect drinks to be delivered in a sealed container (so soft drinks should either be in an unopened can or bottle) to ensure that the contents have not been diluted/adulterated which could cause stomach issues.  Perhaps that was the same concern his mother had warned him about?

Katana_Geldar

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This is particularly an issue with water. In a place like India you'd want bottled water and for it to be unopened.

hobish

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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.

Quote
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.

There is a difference between “proper” and “different”. The continued insinuation that Americans somehow serve food improperly due to larger portions is off-putting, no matter how different from the rest of the world it may be. I thought this thread was to share differences, not to denigrate them.  ???

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MrsJWine

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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.

Quote
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.

There is a difference between “proper” and “different”. The continued insinuation that Americans somehow serve food improperly due to larger portions is off-putting, no matter how different from the rest of the world it may be. I thought this thread was to share differences, not to denigrate them.  ???

This is what I was trying to think of to say. I think curiosity, even surprise is fine. It makes for interesting discussion. It's also understandable because if you think that Americans eat at restaurants every day, or eat the same way at home as they do in restaurants, it can seem obscene. But despite explanations as to why we do things differently, it's been met with borderline disgust by some posters, or at least what seems like it. I love big portions. I'm not a glutton or a slob. I like to take my food home with me to enjoy later; sure, maybe it's not just as good the next day, but it's still enjoyable.


I have a blog.  I hate that word.


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Katana_Geldar

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A huge meal on my plate I find positively nauseating, this is also coupled with the 'clean your plate' mentality drummed into me since childhood. DH is trying to break me of this habit, thankfully. Most restaurants we go to have a decent amount of food on them that you can finish there without it being too much or too little.

Unfortunately, there are places that will pile food into your plate and sometimes have a rather high price for doing so. It becomes a game of too much food, we paid quite a bit for it but I'm so full I never want to lay eyes on it again.

Has anyone been to Outback Steakhouse? It's NOT Australian, about as Australian as an American flag, and it has made its way down under.

Here is the local menu, the portions are large but the prices don't increase when you get your bill.

http://outbacksteakhouse.com.au/index.php/foodandmenus

Lynn2000

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I think we need some more data, like on how often Americans eat out. I eat out every weekday lunch (so, 5), and three to four dinners a week (including leftovers from an "out" meal). I think this is relatively high among people I know; most people I know, especially families on a budget, do a lot more cooking at home and often bring food from home to work for lunch. I'm single and I hate cooking, so. I'd be curious how this compares to other countries.

Katana_Geldar, that's hilarious about Outback opening restaurants in Australia! We have an Outback in town and I love it, but I am under no impression it serves authentic Australian cuisine. :) They do make the servers greet us with "G'day," though.
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Katana_Geldar

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Just looking at the US menu, they don't even have pavlova for dessert and that's not hard. It's also interesting to see how the menus are structured, there's a strong emphasis on sides on the US one  which doesn't happen here.

Soup and salad? Together? Really?!?

And I was actually asked how Australian that place is, it was the first time I'd ever heard of it so my answer was: "probably not a lot ".