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World travelers ... in what country is American food most popular?

Curious as to your opinions on this.

In my (albeit limited) travels, I think China might be my nominee (or precisely, Beijing or Shanghai because China is much too big to provide any sort of homogenized answer).

Your thoughts?

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  1. Germans love American food. If you define American food by burgers, fries, steak, "bbq" (I use that term _very loosely_), milkshakes, etc.

    Probably still stems from the 50s when everybody thought America was IT -- w/regard to music, cars, teckmology, etc. etc..

    Diner's in 50s style are still highly popular in Germany -- Berlin alone has probably 10 or so.

    1. South Korea seems to have as many American chain restaurants as we do in the US. I was staying in a newly built suburb that already had a few chains in place.

      1. American food is popular in many places, sometimes, I think, for its novelty value rather than its taste.

        I recall having a :"buffalo steak" near the Opéra in Paris - really a tough chopped beef patty slathered in tasteless white sauce.

        I have had bogus American-style burgers both in Ireland and Israel - the letter served with underdone bacon - definitely not kosher.

        In the days before MacDonalds opened reatauarnts there, Helsinki had a chain of pseudo MacDonalds, featuring what they callled a "Big Carolina Meal" - as I recall it, two greasy cheeseburgers.

        1. what exactly is American food?

          1. If you are referring to fast food, then the Gulf States (the countries along the Arabian Gulf in the Middle East) probably have the highest number of American fast food chains per capita in the world. I live in Dubai and of the top of my head I can count five McDonalds' in a two-mile span.

            If you had the old-fashioned meat/potato/vegetable diet in mind, then Northern Europe, particularly the UK and Germany, will have a similar national cuisine.

            1. Much depends on how you define "American food".

              In the UK , we've taken to your fast food chains with a vengeance over recent years (and now have rising obesity levels which are fast catching yours up). If you mean something more generic then I would say that we've havnt adopted it at all - unless you would take the view that the parts of your national cuisine that have their roots in the cuisine of northern Europe has always been our cuisine (but I suspect that's not what you mean).

              One of these days I will post a specific thread asking "what is American food", but not now.

              1. This doesn't answer your question exactly, but.. years ago when driving into France in the evening from Germany - my first entry to France ever - I stopped at a highway plaza and picked up a map. It was a McDonald's sponsored map - the whole of France, laid out and emblazoned with golden arches every place there was a McDonald's (All over!)...

                Finally in the waning light I came to a turnoff for some 13th century village where I'd have to find a B&B or other lodging and a meal. It was surreal in its beauty and tiny streets. As I drove slowly past stone buildings and perfectly-mended fences, and turned a corner, the first business establishment I saw - in a beautifully-crafted freestanding building clearly from long-ago, with rough wrought-iron and beautifully-detailed paint touches - was "Texas" - a bar.

                1. The Philippines, Panama, ...

                  1. My impression is, Italy -- specifically for the particular US type of pizza (thin crust, tomato sauce, toppings, cheese). Introduced to the metropolitan north by Italian-Americans including soldiers after the 2nd World War, embraced as an "American" food (pizza having formerly been a regional specialty in Italy, and more free-form).

                    More in Mariani's 1989 essay "Everybody Likes Italian Food."

                    1. The world is a big place and I can't answer your question -- but McDonalds, KFC and Pizza Hut certainly are adored in Beijing and Shanghai. Not to mention Häagen-Dazs (which actually did taste better to me there than it does in the U.S.... wonder if the formula's different).

                      And according to my sister, her Swiss friends in Basel go crazy for "American style" potato chips (i.e. Pringles).

                      16 Replies
                      1. re: cimui

                        the last time I ate Pringles was as part of an appetizer spead at my friend's apartment in...Paris!

                        1. re: buttertart

                          hehe! was it delicately topped with pâté?

                          (shoot... that actually sounds kind of good.)

                            1. re: Cinnamon

                              but.. but... pringles taste great with sauternes, too! =)

                              1. re: cimui

                                Everything tastes good with pringles. ;-)

                            2. re: cimui

                              No...but another thing served was a tuna "cake"...sort of a tuna savory poundcake...apparently these loaves are all the rage in France right now. Rather scary.

                                1. re: Cinnamon

                                  Darn tootin'. Wonderful person, not so hot on the food front.

                                2. re: buttertart

                                  No, no, no. I recently made a French-style savory cake with feta, pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes and pancetta. It was heavenly!

                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                    Sounds great. The tuna one really wasn't however.

                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                      Are these quickbreads? I read about one on the Orangette blog. It was a bacon, cheddar and dried pear shortbread. She mentioned that in France its popular to serve these savory quickbreads, cut into cubes, w/ an apertif.

                                      I thought this recipe sounded delicious, but it received horrible reviews on Epicurious (it was also published in Bon Appetit). http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                      1. re: lynnlato

                                        Well, as insofar as quickbreads resemble cakes, it is, but the one I made had a more tender crumb, just like a cake.

                                        1. re: lynnlato

                                          For those who are interested, here is a recipe from the wonderful cookbook,
                                          "A Table in the Tarn."

                                          makes 3 loaves, each serving 6 (freezes well)

                                          1 cup cubed pancetta
                                          handful of black olives, rinsed, dried, pitted, and coarsely chopped
                                          generous 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, coarsely grated
                                          4 cups AP flour
                                          1 T. baking powder
                                          1/4 t. cayenne
                                          1 t. salt and plenty of black pepper
                                          1 cup cubed Reblochon or other semisoft cheese
                                          2 T chopped fresh herbs
                                          1 large egg
                                          3/4 c. creme fraiche

                                          Fry pancetta until light brown. Cool and stir in the olives.

                                          Grease mini loaf pans with butter and sprinkle half of the parm over the bottom. Whisk together flour, baking powder, cayenne, salt and pepper. Stir in cheese, herbs, pancetta, and olives.

                                          Whisk together milk, butter, egg, and creme fraiche. Fold wet ingredients into the flour mixture until just combined. (It will be sticky.) Divide among the pans and sprinkle with remaining parm. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before turning out of pan.

                                          1. re: pikawicca

                                            There should be 3 1/2 tablespoons of melted butter in the ingredient list.

                                3. re: cimui

                                  I've seen cardamom Häagen-Daz in Paris and elsewhere in Europe, especially in "immigrant" districts.

                                4. In Cairo, there are tons of American fast food places. The first time I was there, I was so surprised to see Chilli's, MacDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut, Cinnabon, etc. everywhere in Cairo. I think that American fast food is less prevalent in Alexandria, thought I haven't spent as much time there. My son and I were shopping for some odds and bits about 4 weeks into our first stay in Cairo when our driver passed a Mickey Ds. I almost never eat at fast food restaurants even in the US, but on that day, we decided to stop and have a burger. It was one of the most delicious burgers I ever had -- or maybe we were just homesick. First of all, it was cooked to order, and both it and the accompanying fries were incredible hot. In Cairo, it is difficult to completely avoid American fast food, but there are days when we're glad to have it. Next year we will be living in an apartment with a kitchen, and I expect that it will be easier to avoid those places. BTW, they are very expensive from a local POV. $4 for a cinnamon roll at cinnabon makes it unavailable to all but the most affluent of the locals. As hard as it might be to believe, American fast food is a luxury and a special treat in Cairo.

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: roxlet

                                    I'm still incredulous: $14 for a BK Whopper in the airport in Istanbul (not that I wanted one, but just saw the price)!

                                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                      Well, when the alternative is a Turkey burger...

                                      1. re: Cinnamon

                                        A delicious smokey, spicy, juicy ground lamb kabob plus incredible local wood fired fresh from the oven round loaves of the best bread in the world for less than $1.00.

                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                          I'm with ya Sam. To see American chains driving under local places breaks my heart. As I am now living in a suburb, almost no American chains, but local Korean pizza and Lotte urgers and 7/11's galore. went to Itewan, the foreign ghetto, yester and it seemed that almost every other store was an American chain.
                                          When I lived in Norway, foreign chains were illegal. I gave a speech at our local school in Helsinki., when Mickey Dee's came to town to eat their own street food or it will disappear.
                                          A big deal when Mc Duck's came to Santa Cruz, Bolivia, but who could afford it but the wealthy? Gimme a saltena!
                                          As we travel around Korea, when I see rice paddies, I think of you.

                                          1. re: Cinnamon

                                            yes, very clever, miss cinnamon!

                                          2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                            Airports in Turkey are famous for overcharging. I doubt it would be $14 once you got outside the airport.

                                        2. I was living in Riyadh when the first chain restaurant opened there ('74, I think), and everyone, locals and Americans went crazy. I never eat at these places here in the States, but it sure was a welcome blast of home back in the day.

                                          2 Replies
                                            1. re: pikawicca

                                              I had a similar experience in '75 - I was living in Hamburg, Germany when the first McDonalds opened there. They had billboards all over town reading (auf Deutsch) "McDonalds brings the hamburger to Hamburg!"

                                              It was immediately popular, in no small part because it was so much more wholesome than the main local fast food, currywurst. Which tells you a lot about currrywurst!

                                              1. Ronald McDonald , the white-suited Colonel, and their ilk, have become cosmopolitan.

                                                But, each country puts its own tweak on the offerings to fit local tastes.

                                                Thus, the breakfast time bin at McD's in Japan is filled with filet o' fish sandwiches.

                                                11 Replies
                                                1. re: FoodFuser

                                                  and doesn't mickey d's in the u.k. have a tikka masala offering?

                                                  1. re: alkapal

                                                    Yes, Chicken McTikka! (I kid you not.) And in Scandinavian McDonalds they serve smoked salmon. In Germany they offer beer, in France wine, etc.

                                                    1. re: BobB

                                                      oh goodness alive, bob, it's also in india!!!!


                                                      how about this?
                                                      >>""McDonald’s in Britain recently offered the Chicken McTikka to cater to the local penchant for Indian takeout. Before Easter, many Greeks avoid milk and meat, so McDonald’s Hellas developed McLent, or McSarakosti, a vegetarian option. McDonald’s in Italy pushes Pizza Mia, and German restaurants serve beer. Say its foes: that’s not localization, that’s marketing.""<<<

                                                      1. re: alkapal

                                                        I frankly can't think of any restaurant in Germany that *doesn't* serve beer. It's one of our main food groups '-D

                                                        1. re: linguafood

                                                          I know a Halal Turkish place in Munich that literally does not *serve* beer. They sell it and you can get get it yourself from the cooler, but you may not consume it on the premises. Strange interpretation of Halal if you ask me...

                                                          1. re: tmso

                                                            Sounds more like halalalalalalalalalalalala... (fingers in ears). ;-)

                                                            1. re: BobB

                                                              bob, that's one of the funniest things i've read in a long time. the best humor is based on a keen eye for the truth! ;-).

                                                              1. re: BobB


                                                                i nominate this for best chow-reply of the month.

                                                              2. re: tmso

                                                                Well, yeah. I forgot about the muslim-run business around here. Obviously, they're the exception.

                                                                1. re: linguafood

                                                                  Although even a lot of them serve beer (to non-muslims persumably :-)

                                                          2. re: BobB

                                                            Beer in France, too. And Croque McDo (croque monsieur).

                                                      2. If we're talking about fast food, I'll vouch for the The Philippines . It's actually embedded into the way Filipinos think about food. That fresh ingredients are equal, even somewhat secondary, to the pre-cooked, well-lit McDonald's and KFC and that the foreign creations hundreds of miles away are superior to the native food present there. There're several Starbucks and McDonalds and in all college campuses and a regular meal is a styrofoam packed glop and a piece of fried chicken from an assembly line.

                                                        1. Nowhere. You cannot get good regional American food anywhere except in America. Even in Canada, aside from chains (and we KNOW you're not talking about chains), it is impossible to get proper "American" cuisines. There is no real cajun, no real Chicago pizza, no real Tex-Mex or Cal-Mex, no real southwestern, no real anything American, only pale and ridiculous imitations. And this is CANADA. In other countries it will be even more dire.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: John Manzo

                                                            Heck, it's hard enough to get good regional American food outside the region it's in, or even the state!

                                                          2. America...............

                                                            1. Sorry I could not help myself!!!!!!!!!!!

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: wineman3

                                                                hey wineman, i thought the same (snarky) thing. ;-).

                                                                here's the kicker: i think that if the original post title had been "what foreign country" is it most popular in, i might still be tempted to answer the same way.

                                                              2. Many have commented and I will also as to where in the World other then the good ole USA can you get........Carolina, Kansas City, St. Louis, Memphis to Texas Style BBQ? Southern Fried Chicken, Corn on the Cob, Baked Beans, Olimpia Oysters, Ruben Sandwiches, Corn Fed Iowa Rib Eye Steaks, Colorado Lamb, Real Smoked Virgina Ham with Grits etc., etc., etc............ Americans love their Food no matter what region and maybe a better question would be what country other than the USA in the world makes the food like we do a home and the answer would be no one. So it is an unjust question.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: wineman3

                                                                  Well, my old standby line is that the distance from L.A. to New York is (very) roughly London to Kazakhstan, so it's hard to compare us to most other 'countries' - now continents maybe.

                                                                2. Chinese love their KFC. It seems to have been the busiest place in town at lunch time.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                                                    When I was in Taiwan a few years back, none of the KFCs there had original recipe. How can you have KFC without original recipe?!?!

                                                                    OTOH, KFC in Taiwan is famous for their Portuguese egg tarts which they offer in many seasonal flavors throughout the year.