La Bouffe à l’Américaine


After all of the feedback on my post on American eating habits last week, I figured it was only fair to play Devil’s advocate for a bit to support American food.

I swear, I’m not as anti-American as I may have come off. True, I love my new home and everything about it (including the food), but there are things about American food that I definitely miss. Off the top of my head, Kraft Dinner, Cape Cod potato chips, Wheat Thins and 24-hour diners come to mind, as well as spicy food that is actually spicy and Thai delivery.

It doesn’t surprise me that there are things about American food culture that I miss (and yes, I did just say “American food culture.” I suppose I was a bit harsh last week… even if I don’t agree with all of our food decisions, America definitely has a food culture of its own that cannot be reproduced anywhere else. Especially not by Buffalo Grill.)

I was reminded recently of all of the American culinary delights that are regional, and that I therefore don’t think of off the top of the bat: chili, Southern fried chicken, barbecue, New England clam chowder… Being a New Yorker spoils me for amazing restaurants, but living in a melting pot metropolis also makes it hard to remember all of the aspects of American culture that I don’t see on a regular basis.

What is surprising, however, is how comparatively well American food is received here in the land of gourmet cooking and foie gras. I never would have expected, for example, that gas station doughnuts covered in questionable “chocolate” coating are a pretty well-received American import. Peanut butter has a bad name unless it appears to be a Dutch import instead of one from the big-bad-States; then it’s a breakfast favorite for “tartines,” the French word for what is, essentially, an open-faced sandwich.

I have to say that the most surprising American import is Starbucks. With a coffee culture rivaled by few European countries (Italy, definitely, Portugal: maybe), I was completely shocked to learn that, for some reason, Frappuccinos have gone over well with certain Parisians (Alex included).

How bizarre.