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

ipsedixit Jun 27, 2009 11:59 PM

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. linguafood RE: ipsedixit Jun 28, 2009 03:10 AM

    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. q
      queencru RE: ipsedixit Jun 28, 2009 04:54 AM

      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. e
        ekammin RE: ipsedixit Jun 28, 2009 05:17 AM

        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. s
          smartie RE: ipsedixit Jun 28, 2009 05:29 AM

          what exactly is American food?

          1. r
            Roland Parker RE: ipsedixit Jun 28, 2009 05:34 AM

            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. h
              Harters RE: ipsedixit Jun 28, 2009 07:09 AM

              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. c
                Cinnamon RE: ipsedixit Jun 28, 2009 10:11 AM

                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. Sam Fujisaka RE: ipsedixit Jun 28, 2009 11:27 AM

                  The Philippines, Panama, ...

                  1. eatzalot RE: ipsedixit Jun 28, 2009 12:26 PM

                    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. c
                      cimui RE: ipsedixit Jun 28, 2009 08:54 PM

                      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
                        buttertart RE: cimui Jun 29, 2009 11:18 AM

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

                        1. re: buttertart
                          cimui RE: buttertart Jun 29, 2009 09:14 PM

                          hehe! was it delicately topped with pâté?

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

                          1. re: cimui
                            Cinnamon RE: cimui Jun 29, 2009 09:46 PM

                            No no no - don't do it!

                            1. re: Cinnamon
                              cimui RE: Cinnamon Jun 30, 2009 01:45 PM

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

                              1. re: cimui
                                greedygirl RE: cimui Jul 2, 2009 07:11 AM

                                Everything tastes good with pringles. ;-)

                                1. re: greedygirl
                                  cimui RE: greedygirl Jul 2, 2009 10:33 AM

                                  Good point!

                            2. re: cimui
                              buttertart RE: cimui Jun 30, 2009 05:40 AM

                              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: buttertart
                                Cinnamon RE: buttertart Jun 30, 2009 07:27 AM

                                There goes the foodie empire.

                                1. re: Cinnamon
                                  buttertart RE: Cinnamon Jun 30, 2009 08:00 AM

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

                                2. re: buttertart
                                  pikawicca RE: buttertart Jun 30, 2009 12:55 PM

                                  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
                                    buttertart RE: pikawicca Jun 30, 2009 01:06 PM

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

                                    1. re: pikawicca
                                      lynnlato RE: pikawicca Jun 30, 2009 04:17 PM

                                      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
                                        pikawicca RE: lynnlato Jun 30, 2009 04:42 PM

                                        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
                                          pikawicca RE: lynnlato Jun 30, 2009 04:59 PM

                                          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
                                            pikawicca RE: pikawicca Jul 1, 2009 05:31 AM

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

                                3. re: cimui
                                  lagatta RE: cimui Jul 1, 2009 04:57 PM

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

                                4. roxlet RE: ipsedixit Jun 29, 2009 04:54 AM

                                  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
                                    Sam Fujisaka RE: roxlet Jun 29, 2009 05:16 AM

                                    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
                                      Cinnamon RE: Sam Fujisaka Jun 29, 2009 06:50 AM

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

                                      1. re: Cinnamon
                                        Sam Fujisaka RE: Cinnamon Jun 29, 2009 07:00 AM

                                        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
                                          Passadumkeg RE: Sam Fujisaka Jun 30, 2009 12:17 AM

                                          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.

                                        2. re: Cinnamon
                                          FoodFuser RE: Cinnamon Jun 29, 2009 10:27 AM

                                          Nice pun, Cinna"mun".

                                          1. re: Cinnamon
                                            alkapal RE: Cinnamon Jun 30, 2009 03:30 AM

                                            yes, very clever, miss cinnamon!

                                          2. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                            greedygirl RE: Sam Fujisaka Jul 2, 2009 07:12 AM

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

                                        3. pikawicca RE: ipsedixit Jun 29, 2009 07:15 AM

                                          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
                                            jeanmarieok RE: pikawicca Jun 29, 2009 11:09 AM

                                            I agree!!!

                                            1. re: pikawicca
                                              BobB RE: pikawicca Jul 1, 2009 07:10 AM

                                              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!

                                            2. haggisdragon RE: ipsedixit Jun 29, 2009 08:13 AM


                                              1. FoodFuser RE: ipsedixit Jun 29, 2009 10:33 AM

                                                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
                                                  alkapal RE: FoodFuser Jun 30, 2009 03:31 AM

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

                                                  1. re: alkapal
                                                    BobB RE: alkapal Jul 1, 2009 07:11 AM

                                                    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
                                                      alkapal RE: BobB Jul 1, 2009 01:56 PM

                                                      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
                                                        linguafood RE: alkapal Jul 2, 2009 06:23 AM

                                                        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
                                                          tmso RE: linguafood Jul 2, 2009 06:44 AM

                                                          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
                                                            BobB RE: tmso Jul 2, 2009 07:19 AM

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

                                                            1. re: BobB
                                                              alkapal RE: BobB Jul 2, 2009 04:02 PM

                                                              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
                                                                cimui RE: BobB Jul 2, 2009 07:05 PM


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

                                                              2. re: tmso
                                                                linguafood RE: tmso Jul 2, 2009 07:26 AM

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

                                                                1. re: linguafood
                                                                  tmso RE: linguafood Jul 2, 2009 11:39 AM

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

                                                          2. re: BobB
                                                            tmso RE: BobB Jul 2, 2009 06:45 AM

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

                                                      2. j
                                                        jecolicious RE: ipsedixit Jun 29, 2009 05:43 PM

                                                        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. John Manzo RE: ipsedixit Jun 29, 2009 08:20 PM

                                                          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
                                                            Cinnamon RE: John Manzo Jun 29, 2009 09:49 PM

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

                                                          2. w
                                                            wineman3 RE: ipsedixit Jun 29, 2009 09:48 PM


                                                            1. w
                                                              wineman3 RE: ipsedixit Jun 29, 2009 09:50 PM

                                                              Sorry I could not help myself!!!!!!!!!!!

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: wineman3
                                                                alkapal RE: wineman3 Jun 30, 2009 03:34 AM

                                                                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. w
                                                                wineman3 RE: ipsedixit Jun 29, 2009 10:03 PM

                                                                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
                                                                  Cinnamon RE: wineman3 Jun 29, 2009 10:07 PM

                                                                  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. s
                                                                  Sal Vanilla RE: ipsedixit Jun 30, 2009 01:57 PM

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

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: Sal Vanilla
                                                                    huaqiao RE: Sal Vanilla Jun 30, 2009 03:08 PM

                                                                    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.

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