What Americans eat: borrowed fast food, lack of calories and pepper sweets
You can eat cheap and fast in America, or high quality and expensive. There are grocery stores with very low prices, where the food tastes quite artificial, with a bunch of enhancers, flavors, and colorings that are “identical to natural.” However, there are also high-end supermarkets, and in many areas of the city, “farmers markets” are held on weekends, where they sell quite expensive but natural products. You can also travel outside the city to farms and pick berries and fruits there. There you can buy honey, fresh chicken or pork. Before Thanksgiving, for example, Americans often go to farms to choose a turkey, which will then end up on their holiday table.
The food selection in the US is truly impressive. Before coming to Washington, I had never seen egg paste, buckwheat paste, brown rice, lentil paste on the shelves. Here you can choose meat and minced meat by fat content, for example, in the composition of 95% lean meat, 5% fat. A bunch of products catch consumers with their “50% less fat”, “reduced salt content”, “less sugar”.
Throughout the year, you can buy decent greenhouse berries and fruits: raspberries, strawberries, blueberries. Sometimes there are several varieties of fresh mango, and apples and pears of autumn varieties are not as miserable as we have next summer. Vegetables are also year-round for every taste: tomatoes and cherries, and "grapes", and yellow, and black, fleshy and watery. And the price is almost stable throughout the year.
And America is also a “land of big freezers”. Americans love to buy frozen ready-to-eat food (from ready-made macaroni and cheese to lemonade concentrate), and the homes themselves have huge freezers, where even bread and coffee beans are frozen.
The locals drink a lot of wine. And unlike most Ukrainians, mostly dry. This is part of the culture of moderate consumption of a glass or two of red in the evening - even on weekdays, even alone. And this is not at all considered drunkenness.
If the Americans are calling for a visit (just for dinner, a party or for a birthday), it is enough to bring a bottle of wine with you. And locals do not advise focusing on the “more expensive” price. You need to know the manufacturer or just try. Decent wine can be bought up to $ 10 and sometimes up to $ 5.
Juices are not advised to drink, because it is mostly tinted and sweetened water. I was very surprised by the 0 Calories lemonade: sweet soda without dyes with different fruit flavors.
Also an interesting discovery for me was what is typical american dishes or restaurants do not actually exist. Even fast food, which we consider to be American, was brought to the United States by migrants. Burgers and hot dogs are from Germany, bagels are from Eastern Europe, even french fries are French fries! At the same time, fry the most unexpected foods in oil - from cucumbers to ice cream or cookies Oreo, - the Americans came up with. By the way, the Caesar salad, despite its name, is the creation of an American chef, albeit of Italian origin.
Washington DC has the largest Ethiopian community outside of Africa, and they have opened many of their establishments. Vegetable and meat dishes are mostly spicy there, they are served on ingeri - a large pancake made of gray flour. They eat this not with a spoon or fork, but with pieces of the same pancake, which they simply tear off with their hands.
Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese dishes, especially soup pho (foul) with noodles, meat and soy sprouts - also became a real discovery for me here.
But most places served mexican food. Tapas, snacks in almost every bar / cafe / restaurant, just as in our country almost every establishment considers it necessary to have sushi or pizza in the menu. In Ukraine, I didn’t like Mexican food at all, but here it’s impossible to refuse guacamole or burrito because they are cooked by real Mexicans and mostly use authentic products.
Incredibly popular food trucks, that is, cars, trailers, where they sell to my surprise a decent meal. Not far from work at lunch hour for such restaurants on wheels long queues line up, you don't always even want to stand. It is interesting that in some of these mobile kitchens they cook so deliciously that local foodies, in our opinion, food lovers, generally hunt them, following their movements on special sites or in social networks, because some trucks change locations daily.
But according to the law, everyone should be attached to a regular cafe with appropriate conditions for preparing and storing food, so the quality is well controlled.
If you really want to eat, you have to go to the "buffet": you pay $ 10-15 for entrance and eat as much as you like. Everything is in the best traditions of Turkish all inclusive: so many varied foods, to try everything at once is simply impossible.
Many local establishments have vegetarian, vegan, lactose-free, gluten-free, organic food options. When a colleague in Ukraine told me: “When I became a vegetarian, I stopped going to restaurants, because - what will they surprise me with? Salad? ” Here, it seems, on the contrary, a person with any preferences will find something interesting for himself.
For dessert, the locals buy muffins and cupcakes, a huge selection of pies, cheesecakes, donuts, cookies (very popular - with pieces of chocolate).
I was personally struck by candy M & Ms, with a variety of flavors: with peanut butter, white or dark chocolate, almonds, caramel, and crispy, coffee, mint fillings, pretsel cookies, birthday cake, special M & Ms for use in baking. And all this in different colors and in different packaging.
But I do not like chocolate in America. Even famous brands Hersheys and ghirardelli resemble our “tiles”. Therefore, for the holidays, Americans give each other Belgian or Swiss chocolate.
The original column is published on the website of the Ukrainian Service.VOA". Reprinted with permission from author Maria Prus and publications.
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