What do Americans eat

Food and drink in the USA

American cuisine is far more varied and better than its reputation.

One of the anti-American platitudes that self-educated Europeans often admit is the prejudice that the United States primarily produced fast food in the culinary field. It cannot be denied that unprepared travelers to the USA easily fall into the fast-food trap and, in individual cases, eat for weeks in chains such as McDonald's and Burger King. This has a lot to do with the fact that fast food is actually very cheap in the US. At McDonald's, the simplest hamburger costs 39 cents on some weekdays, and for 1 dollar you can get a double cheeseburger. But even tourists with poor knowledge of English often have a preference for international fast food chains because they are familiar with the menu from home and can reliably get what they expect on the tray without any communication problems.

However, if you overcome the language problems and the reluctance to try something new, you quickly discover that the USA offers an extreme culinary and gastronomic variety. The rule of thumb is that the more foreigners, academics and rich people live in one place, the greater the range of interesting foods and restaurants. You can definitely eat better in New York City, San Francisco and Boston than in Watertown, New York or Youngstown, Ohio. In cities with a multicultural flair and a strong bourgeois middle class who value well-groomed cuisine, you will find chic supermarkets with a fairytale selection of fresh foods, health food stores, delicatessen shops, shops with ethnic specialties and a range of restaurants that are surprising even for Europeans are.


Customary breakfast [edit]

In the 1970s, eggs and pancakes were even more naturally on the breakfast table in American households than they are today.

In everyday life at home, Americans prefer instant oatmeal for breakfast, which is considered a cholesterol-lowering agent and is mixed with hot water, and Cereals such as B. Corn flakes in cold milk. In the southern states, traditionally, too grits eaten, a hot porridge made from corn grits. One element that has found its way into the general American breakfast kitchen from the Jewish tradition is bagels: a ring-shaped unsweetened yeast dough that loses its heaviness when it is served freshly toasted and coated with cream cheese. The custom of only having a coffee in the morning and not eating anything is also widespread.

Americans like to eat breakfast less modestly on weekends, holidays, and vacations. Breakfast or brunch in the restaurant is very popular. As a result, restaurant breakfast menus are more or less faithful to what many Americans would prepare at home if they weren't shy about the hassle and calories. Warm egg dishes such as scrambled eggs (scrambled eggs) and fried egg (fried eggs) that many Americans would find out of place at any other time of the day. The eggs can be accompanied by meat and starch components. Sage-seasoned, unsmoked sausages made from pork meat are used as meat (breakfast sausages) and crispy fried streaky bacon in question. A steak or a hamburger (without salad decorations and pickles) are also nothing unusual for breakfast. Starch side dishes are toast (wheat, rye or whole grain), fried potatoes (home frieze) and hash browns, a rösti-like preparation made from grated pan-fried potatoes.

Sweet dishes such as freshly baked waffles, pancakes (with butter and syrup), French toast (Poor Knights) or cakes (especially muffins) can either be served as a supplement or as a "continental breakfast" can completely replace the egg breakfast. In the latter case, fruits or fat-free yogurt are also often offered.

The most popular breakfast drinks are coffee, decaffeinated coffee (decaf), black tea, hot chocolate, milk and orange juice.

Breakfast in the restaurant

Eggs and pan-fried bacon form the basis of a hearty American restaurant breakfast. Americans only eat breakfast on weekends.

If you have breakfast in the restaurant, most of these dishes can be found reliably in the menu. One exception is granola (Muesli), which is sold in supermarkets, but is rarely offered in restaurants. A typical breakfast composition in the restaurant consists of 2-3 fried eggs, sausages or bacon, fried potatoes, buttered toast, jam, orange juice and coffee. Most of the time with coffee free refill offered, i.e. coffee is always refilled free of charge until you drop. If you are not happy with the combinations mentioned in the menu, you should never hesitate to contact the waitress in Serviceland USA with special requests. If you ask kindly, it is practically always possible to have exactly the components put together that you want.

The majority of the restaurants that serve breakfast are independently run. In individual cases (Denny's, IHOP) however, chains are also pushing their way into this market niche.

Alternatives [edit]

A quick and inexpensive "cake breakfast" with thin coffee is available in many supermarkets and petrol stations and in chains such as Dunkin 'donuts and Tim Hortons. Occasionally, they offer croissants and other types of pastry that would also be acceptable for breakfast in Germany. Bread lovers are generally disappointed, fresh crispy buns (french rolls, Kaiser rolls) that live up to German expectations are hard to find in the US. Self-caterers should start their search in well-stocked supermarkets with their own bakery.

Since American coffee is roasted more sharply and brewed thinner than German, German migrants and experienced German tourists in the USA often prefer to order cappuccino or Caffè latte as filter coffee. You can get it in independent coffee houses and in coffee chains like Starbucks. These often also offer a small selection of breakfast-ready pastries. The happiest synthesis of coffee house and bakery forms a type of modern bakery-café that deals with chains like Panera has only recently spread. There is high quality food there and good coffee. Bagel shops are an interesting alternative.

In cities with a strong international flair, you shouldn't miss the opportunity to have breakfast in an ethnic restaurant every now and then.

The continental breakfast

In many hotels, especially those of the middle class, a "continental breakfast" is included in the room price. The minimum is some form of baked goods, especially bagels or toast, cakes (especially muffins), jam, cream cheese, yoghurt, fruits and a small selection of cereals (e.g. corn flakes). Coffee, tea, milk and orange juice are offered to drink (in European terms: thin). If that is too poor for you, you will hardly get angry looks if you bring yourself one or two more groceries that you cannot do without. Bread rolls and bread are considered a side dish or starter for dinner in the USA and are generally not served in the morning.

The better middle-class hotels also offer (chilled) hard-boiled eggs, porridge, scrambled eggs, fried bacon, fried potatoes and breakfast sausages on their breakfast buffets. Children and the young at heart can bake a fresh waffle themselves with the waffle iron. With a little luck you can also get a hot chocolate.

Upscale hotels often operate in-house restaurants, in which breakfast is then chargeable. If a breakfast buffet is available, a cook will occasionally work there to prepare the guests' egg breakfasts as they wish in front of their eyes.

What Americans Really Eat

Most working-age Americans are employed and either eat in their employer's cafeteria or a nearby restaurant, or bring their lunch to work during their lunch break. Lunch bags (brown bags), which made up the traditional workers' lunch, typically included a sandwich, whole fruit, and something sweet like cookies or a chocolate bar. Since microwave ovens became widespread in the workplace in the 1980s, frozen and other ready-made meals have had the lunch bags largely replaced. Many workers also use the microwave to warm up leftover meals that they prepared at home the night before. Nevertheless, the sandwich is still the most popular lunch to this day, it is just no longer prepared yourself, but bought ready-made with a lavish filling. Schoolchildren buy their lunches in the school cafeteria or bring them in as well lunch bag from home with. They are particularly popular with many school children peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (Wheat toast with peanut butter and jam or jelly).

The only meal families can eat together is often dinner (dinner). The most popular dishes in American households are spaghetti, pizza, and steaks. The main criterion when choosing a dish is often the speed and convenience of its preparation. Many of the most popular American dishes are barely known in Europe, including: B. macaroni and cheese (short: mac'n'cheese; elbow macaroni in cheese sauce), fettuccine alfredo (Tagliatelle with cheese and cream sauce), buffalo wings (fried, spicy marinated chicken pieces), salisbury steak (a steak-shaped meatball in gravy), Pulled Pork (roast pork plucked in fibers, mixed with barbecue sauce and served on rolls) and sloppy joe (Finely shredded meat cooked in tomato sauce, which is served on a hamburger bun). The use of convenience food is also widespread; American housewives and husbands use e.g. B. I like ready-made products such as Campbell soups to make casseroles, casseroles and the like on their basis home cooking style-Preparing dishes.

Extremely popular and a traditionally male task is also the preparation of marinated meat on the grill (barbecue, also: BBQ, Bar-B-Que). Meat, especially beef, is consistently much better hung in the USA and therefore of higher quality than anything you get in Germany. In many households, an oversized gas grill is part of the basic equipment. Incidentally, in the USA, grilling is usually done in the afternoon between 4 and 6 p.m.

The fact that cooking is one of the most popular hobbies in the USA - especially among the high-earning middle class - attracts less attention than the proverbial poor diet of many Americans abroad. Kitchen gadgets, cookbooks and gourmet magazines sell fabulously and the supermarkets, which in many regions are better stocked than a KaDeWe in Berlin, would not be able to offer their amazing assortments if they did not have reliable buyers for unusual and high-quality food.

On public holidays, even such Americans become amateur cooks who feed their families from the freezer on a day-to-day basis. The greatest attention is paid to this Thanksgiving dinner, which is celebrated in the USA on the fourth Thursday in November as the most important family festival of the year. A classic Thanksgiving dinner includes a stuffed turkey cooked in the oven, which is served with an opulent selection of side dishes (mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn on the cob, green bean casserole, gravy, cranberry sauce, Waldorf salad, etc.). Typical Thanksgiving desserts are pies with apple, sweet potato, pumpkin or pecan filling. The dinner that took place on the evening of Christmas Day is often prepared only slightly different from Thanksgiving dinner; At best, ham is widely used to supplement or replace turkey. More than on Thanksgiving, however, the food choices on Christmas Day reflect the family's ethnic background. In families with Scandinavian ancestors, fish is often on the table and Hawaiians eat turkey teriyaki.

Behavior in the restaurant [edit]

In order to offer their guests the best possible service, American restaurants traditionally employ a large number of staff. Today, however, the serving staff are mostly female.

Only in fast food and cafeteria restaurants do you go straight to a table of your choice. In all other restaurants, guests wait in the entrance area until the maître d ' or a waitress assigns them a table. There is of course the option of rejecting one table and asking for another. In many restaurants it is not possible to make reservations, so it is possible that there is no free table during "rush hours" (evenings and especially on weekends) and (not infrequently) there is even a line ("line") in front of it. The referrers will then tell you the approximate waiting time until you are assigned a table. In the meantime, you can often sit down at the bar that long. In many chain restaurants, waiting guests receive one Pagerwhich receives a radio signal as soon as a table is ready.

American waitresses act more emphatically than their European colleagues as personal hosts for the restaurant customers they serve. They usually introduce themselves to their guests by name ("My name is Kimberly and I'm gonna be your waitress tonight.") and after this greeting it would be a gross violation of behavior to turn to a colleague who may be serving at the next table with a request for help. More often than in Germany, people are asked during the meal whether everything is satisfactory. On the one hand, this is part of the friendly service, but on the other hand it should also give the guest the opportunity to place further orders.

As soon as there are no more orders, you will receive the invoice (check). The American pay system only provides a relatively low fixed salary for waitresses, which they pay through Tip (tip) are forced to improve. As a result, this one falls tip in the USA is significantly higher than in German-speaking countries. If the service was perfect, you will be charged 20% of the invoice amount. With particularly attentive service is typing one even higher. You only give less than 15% if the service was really bad. The usual "10%" or rounding up in Germany are grossly impolite and should therefore be avoided if you want to be seen again in the same restaurant. When paying in cash, you either round up the amount from the start or you can first give change and leave that behind tip then on the table. In the USA, it is more common than cash to pay by credit card; that will tip already entered on the credit card slip (a procedure that German restaurateurs could learn from).

Unlike in Europe, it is not customary in the USA to sit in a restaurant for long after dinner. In a good restaurant you won't be complimented outright after you've eaten the dessert, but the waiters probably need the table for new guests. You should leave no later than 10-15 minutes after receiving the invoice. To continue the conversation that started over dinner with a glass of wine, you may go to the nearest bar.

If the portion is too big, the waitress can ask for one box ask (the euphemistic expression used in the past doggy bag is hardly needed today), which is a lockable styrofoam container in which you can take leftovers home with you. Even in upscale restaurants it is not a problem to have leftovers packed, the service often offers one of its own accord box at.

For German travelers it is often strange that Americans only eat with a fork. The free hand is placed on the thigh under the table. If food is consumed that requires a knife, the steak is cut into bite-sized pieces, the knife is put down and eaten with a fork. The European way of eating with knife and fork is therefore viewed with suspicion by Americans and is the fastest way to come out as a tourist in a restaurant.

Going out to eat with children

American gastronomy is usually much better prepared for guests with children than families from German-speaking countries are used to.The service is quicker, children don't have to be patient for so long, they usually receive unsolicited crayons and a booklet that they can color or edit. There are high chairs for toddlers and there are often special stands for babies in which the baby car seat can be set up safely. Drinks for children come in tip-proof plastic cups with lids and straws. Most restaurants offer special children's menus, some chains (e.g. Bob Evans) even offer their little guests, who are not yet literate, menus in which the menu is illustrated with photos. If the children's menu is not enough, e.g. B. because you have a picky eater, it is usually no problem to have a side order Ordering French fries, mashed potatoes, white rice or spaghetti without sauce: whatever is already available in the kitchen, the waitresses can serve and account for - even if it is not on the menu. It is usually also possible to choose a starter or main course from the adult menu and ask that the portion be made extra small for the child. You then pay less accordingly. An alternative is to share a normal serving between two children or one adult and one child; the waitresses then bring an additional plate or serve on separate plates from the start.

Children especially love the food in the buffet restaurant because they can put together their own menu there (see below). Some chains specialize entirely in families with children. Chuck E. Cheese's z. B. offers play and entertainment areas where children of all ages can enjoy, among other things. have fun playing video games while the parents eat up in peace. Some McDonald’s also have a large play area. The menu of the pancake chain is also clearly geared towards children's tastes IHOP; however, the portions are tailored to full-size adults. A visit to the theme restaurant is a dream of many American children Rainforest Cafe, which is found a good 20 times in the USA, especially in places with a heavy tourist influx.

Small restaurant typology

With the exception of fast food and chain restaurants in the USA, people eat more expensive in the evening than they do at lunchtime, but they usually get a more attractive selection.

Formal dining and casual dining

In some particularly elegant restaurants (fine dining restaurants, formal restaurants, jacket and tie restaurants) Gentlemen are only allowed in if they wear jackets and ties. The regulations are less precise for women, but clothing is also appropriate for them, as in the parlance of the Anglo-Saxon dress code as informal or semi-formal referred to as.

The majority of American restaurants, however, caters casual dining (family-style dining): Here you can more or less wear what you want.

Diner [edit]

Diner (also the English Diner Wikipedia site) began to emerge in the United States in the late 19th century when New England manufacturers came up with the idea of ​​producing horse-drawn restaurant carts that could be used in downtown areas where property would have been prohibitive. In the boom of the 1950s, when many Americans started their own businesses, diners opened across the country. They have since been supplied by the industry as stationary modules with a streamlined Art Deco design made of glass and stainless steel. Inside, these units had an elongated bar, behind which was the kitchenette, and a number of boothswhere the guests could sit at tables. The diners of the 1950s were often open around the clock and served an audience with little money to spend with the fried and deep-fried dishes (hamburgers, french fries, sandwiches, breakfast eggs, waffles, pancakes / pancakes) that have since enjoyed the Form the basis of American fast food cuisine. Hamburgers, french fries, sandwiches and the like are still offered today. Diners are also known for a varied breakfast menu with eggs, waffles, pancakes / pancakes and more. Some offer this breakfast all day and some only until the early afternoon. These are often known as the pancake house. IHOP (also English IHOP Wikipedia page) is a pancake house chain that specializes primarily in breakfast. IHOP is open 24/7. Traditional dinners have more "normal" opening times.[3]

Coffee is ubiquitous in diner. Many diners do not serve alcoholic beverages, although some serve beer and inexpensive wines, while others - particularly in New Jersey and Long Island - have full drinks menus, including mixed drinks. Many diners serve hand-mixed milkshakes. The food is usually quite inexpensive.

In the 1970s, fast food chains spread, which soon supplanted the independently operated diners. However, the “institution” of the diner became legendary when pop culture discovered and celebrated it in the 1980s as a symbol of economic growth and optimism. George Lucas' film marks a high point in this development American graffiti.

Today, fast food chains like Sonic, Checkers and Johnny Rockets Borrowings from the design of the 1950s diners. Occasionally real diners have survived, in whose restored and listed original rooms hamburgers and other fast food are still served. An online directory of active historical dinners can be found at Dinercity.com.

Fast food restaurants [edit]

The branches of American fast food chains differ only slightly from corresponding fast food restaurants in Europe. European tourists only notice that no beer is served, that the prices are lower than in German-speaking countries and that you can often (but not always) pay by credit card. The employees hardly receive more than the legally prescribed minimum wage, they mostly come from simple social backgrounds and are sometimes a little overwhelmed with guests who do not speak English well. It is not uncommon for communication problems to arise with the question "For here or to go?" (= Do you want to eat this or take it away?) By the staff who have to say this sentence hundreds of times a day, but often to one "Freertogo?" is mumbled.

Drive-thru restaurants

In the drive-thru you order on the intercom and then drive to the pick-up window in front.

Drive-thru restaurants are something characteristic of Autoland USA. In German, the term “drive-in” has become established for such restaurants (less common in the USA and, strictly speaking, something different, see below). Drive-thru restaurants are fast food restaurants that run alongside a regular dining room drive-thru window operate where you can drive up to pay for and collect your order. The window is positioned so that you can stay seated in the car. The order is placed a few meters in front of the window on a column that is equipped with an intercom. Sometimes there is also a display showing the order and the final price. Behind the column is an oversized illuminated menu from which you can choose. Since the transmission quality of the intercom usually leaves something to be desired, the order is on drive-thru window often difficult for people with little English language experience. It can become traumatic if one is also not familiar with the chain's product range. It is better to order your food at the counter (where you can use your hands and feet to make yourself understood).

Drive-thru windows can be found almost exclusively at fast food chains, e.g. B. at MC Donalds, Burger King, KFC and Taco Bell. The fast food chain Sonic is also trying to revive a special form of drive-thru dining that was popular in the 1950s, in which the guests were in the car by roller-skating waitresses (carhops) were served. The SonicWaitresses no longer move around on roller skates, but still serve in the car. This type of operation is what Americans understand by "drive in", if they are familiar with the term.

Take-out [edit]

Take-out restaurants sell hot food (mostly fast food) that customers usually take home with them. In some take-out restaurants, there are also a few tables ready for guests who want to eat immediately. Take-out restaurants are mostly independently run small businesses that often offer pizza or Chinese (Cantonese) cuisine adapted to American tastes.

Even in conventional restaurants with table service, the staff is almost always prepared for customers who do not eat there but want to take an order home with them. The best thing to do is to ask for you as soon as you enter the restaurant take-out menu. The waiting time while preparing your order can either be spent in the entrance area of ​​the restaurant or used for a walk. The waitresses know how busy the kitchen is and how long it will take.

Incidentally, nobody in the USA knows the term "take-away", which is well known in Germany, and when you order something "for take-away" you get astonished looks. A typical "false friend".

Street food

A wide variety of street vendors can often be found in the business centers of major American cities (street food vendors) who sell cheap hot dogs and other fast food at their mobile stands.

Food Courts

Shopping malls (shopping centers in which several department stores and many retailers are housed under one roof) usually have one Food court, in which several fast food chains with their sales counters are located around a seating area with tables.

Cafeteria restaurants [edit]

Museums and supermarkets that cannot offer full table service in their fast-food restaurants for staffing reasons often operate them in a cafeteria style. You can usually choose between cold dishes from the buffet and warm dishes that are served on plates at the counter (to order), load everything onto a tray and pay at the cash register. You choose the table yourself and clear it yourself afterwards.

Buffet restaurants [edit]

Buffet restaurants are self-service restaurants where you pay a fixed amount either before or after the meal and then eat and drink as much as you want ("All you can eat"). As a rule, buffets do not serve alcohol, but only offer soft drinks, coffee, tea or tap water, which can be refilled as often as you like.

Buffet restaurants are a good option for people with poor English language skills and an excellent choice for families or groups who need to be considerate of a picky eater. Here you only get exactly what you put on your plate.

Many, but not all, buffet restaurants have the word "buffet" in their names. Many offer classic American cuisine (including the Ketten Golden Corral, Home Town Buffet, Old Country Buffet, Ponderosa Steakhouse). Others are on soups + salads (e.g. Souplant & Sweet Tomatoes) or pizza (CiCi's pizza, Gatti's pizza) specialized. Chinese buffet restaurants serving Americanized Cantonese cuisine are at least as popular. Indian restaurants that have normal table service in the evening also often have a lunch buffet. Buffets with other ethnic cuisines are less common and only in large cities. B. with sushi.

Delicatessen [edit]

Deli sandwiches have more fresh ingredients than hamburgers.

Under a Delicatessen (short mostly: Deli) is a grocery store in the USA that sells fresh produce such as dressed salads, cold meats and cheese. As a fresh produce department, delis have a regular place in good supermarkets, in larger cities they are also popular as independently run specialty stores. In addition to their stores, free delis usually also have a small restaurant where you can order cold and warm sandwiches and baguettes.

Delis have different cultural roots. Much of the American delis are of Jewish origin and made to kosher or kosher style Specialized in food. Here you get z. B. Pastrami sandwiches, some of the most delicious quick to eat in the US. However, there are also Italian and German delis; the latter are usually known as “European Delis”.

Home delivery [edit]

Many restaurants deliver hot meals to your home (or hotel) at no extra charge. Most popular is home delivery pizza, but also many Chinese fast-food restaurants deliver food by messenger. Which providers deliver to the house can be found in the phone book. A credit card payment is usually not possible. The messenger also expects a tip (approx. 15%).

Special and unusual restaurants

Restaurants with unusual service

The most fun thing to do when dining out in groups of 3-6 is to go to a restaurant where the Guests prepare their own food. This option is particularly widespread in restaurants serving East Asian cuisine. In the branches of the catering chain bd's Mongolian Barbecue One roasts on a large, round metal plate (a sword-like pan knife is used to turn the food), while others have table grills, sukiyaki pots and other unconventional cooking utensils. The ingredients are usually available in a buffet, from which you can help yourself after paying a flat rate. In some big cities there are also fondue restaurants, e.g. The Melting Pot.

Sushi Land in Portland, Oregon

One can also find it in cities with a high Japanese population Sushi go rounds. These are sushi restaurants in which instead of a buffet there is an assembly line on which the sushi drives past the guests (e.g. the branches of the Sushi Land chain). You take what you want. The waitress later sees how many and which of the color-coded plates you have piled up, and then calculates how much is to be paid. Sometimes instead of the conveyor belt there is also a gully in which small boats loaded with sushi make the rounds (e.g. Warakubone, 307 Church St San Francisco). To find addresses, google “conveyor belt sushi” or “sushi boat”.

Very rarely found in the USA Vending machine restaurants (automats, e.g. B. that BAMN! in Greenwich Village), which sell fast food in vending machines. This gastronomy concept, introduced in 1902, was popular in many major American cities in the first half of the 20th century and experienced a wave of nostalgia in the 1970s after it had actually already outlived itself.

Restaurants in unusual premises [edit]

Are popular in the USA Themed restaurants with artistic, elaborate interior design, the motifs of which are also taken up from the menu. Underwater motifs dominate the worth seeing decorations in the restaurants of the small chain Aquarium restaurants. In other restaurants, everything revolves around topics such as “jungle”, “wild west” or “space”. Popular tourist traps are the themed restaurants of the catering chains Planet Hollywood and Hard Rock Cafe.

In large American cities, prospective seekers often have the opportunity to see the Top floor restaurant of a skyscraper to eat. There are also a few on high structures rotating restaurants (New York Marriot Marquis in New York City, Reunion Tower in Dallas, Space needle in Seattle, Stratosphere in Las Vegas, Tower of the Americas, in San Antonio, Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles, Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel in Atlanta). Such Rooftop restaurants are usually very elegant and expensive. Those who shy away from the cost of a full dinner here can, however, sit down at the bar and just order a cocktail or coffee.

Restaurants with entertainment [edit]

Are widespread in the US Supper clubsthat form a combination of a restaurant (often with mandatory ties) and a nightclub. In Dinner theater In addition to dinner, guests are offered an entertainment program (“dinner and a movie”, “dinner and a comedy”). In big cities you can occasionally find restaurants that have been trained as waiters Animators and other artists are employed. Legendary is z. B. Max's Opera Café in San Francisco, where the waiters sing opera arias to entertain their guests. Such bars are also particularly widespread in Hollywood and the surrounding area, where there are more actors without engagement than anywhere else in the world.


Fast food

Classic fast food

Hamburgers are not always filled with as many fresh components as in this photo.

The country is covered by a tight network of fast food chains, which, especially in rural regions, tend to displace independent competition through dumping prices. They don't just specialize in cheap hamburgers MC Donalds, Burger King and Wendy's, but also Carl's Jr., Fatburger, Hardee's, Jack in the box, Steak n Shake, Whataburger and White Castle. The marketing concept of Sonic and Checkers; these two hamburger chains are trying to revive the drive-in diner feeling of the 1950s. The hamburger chain operating in the west of the country deserves a special mention In-N-Out Burger. It is one of the few American fast food chains whose employees receive more than the legal minimum wage.

The term “fast food” should not be equated entirely with hamburgers, french fries and milkshakes. Some fast food chains offer products made from fried chicken (e.g. Chick-fil-A, Church's Chicken, KFC, Lee's Famous Recipe Chicken, Popeye's Chicken & Biscuits). The fast food chain popular in the American Southwest Schnitzel Confusingly, sells hot dogs instead of Wienerschnitzel. You can get fish and seafood at the fast food chains Captain D's and Long John Silver's. Many other chains - e.g. B. Arby's, Jimmi John's, Port of Subs, Quiznos Sub, Subway and Togo's - are up submarine sandwiches (subs) specialized: these are sliced ​​baguettes with more or less interesting toppings, whereby this bread, even when baked, is much softer than what customers in Germany expect. Since sandwiches can be topped with all imaginable ingredients and sauces, ordering in most sub-shops requires an extraordinary amount of communication; Foreigners with insecure knowledge of English can quickly feel overwhelmed here. However, freshly filled and gratinated sandwiches taste much better than the comrades that are offered in the supermarket ready-made and wrapped in foil in the refrigerated counter.

Soft drinks [edit]

Fast food restaurants practically never have a license to serve alcoholic beverages in the United States. In addition to orange juice, coffee and milkshakes are mainly available so that (also: soft drinks, soda pop) like cola drinks (Coke or Pepsi, always also as dietVersion) and lemon-lime drinks (Sprite, 7 Up, Sierra crap; Mountain Dew is similar but contains added caffeine). The cola derivative is also often used Dr Pepper, fruit punch (a mostly non-caffeinated sugar water based on artificial flavors), iced tea (cold black tea) or root beer offered. The latter is a sometimes caffeine-containing, sometimes caffeine-free fizzy drink with a distinctive medicinal aroma, which many German-speaking tourists find extremely hard to get used to. In the USA, “lemonade” is not understood to mean a fizzy drink, as in Germany, but a non-carbonated mixed drink made from more or less real lemon juice, sugar and water.

In fast food restaurants, so that mostly a free refill offered, d. H. you can be refilled as often as you like, free of charge. In fast food chains, you usually only get an empty cup at the counter, which you do at the soda fountain refills with the drink of his choice. In many fast food restaurants so that like Coca Cola and Sprite mixed by yourself. Since the tap water used for this is not always the best, one should give preference to the latter if bottles or cans are also sold at the same time.

Alternatives [edit]

Sales booth with "Middle Eastern" fast food in the Food court a shopping mall.

A delightful alternative to classic fast food is ethnic fast food. Chinese fast food restaurants e.g. B. can be found in the USA even in remote provincial towns. They mostly offer Cantonese cuisine that has been nicely modified for American tastes. Although there are almost always a few tables, most of the guests order food to go, d. H. take away. There are now even chains that specialize in Chinese fast food (e.g. Chinese Gourmet Express, Manchu wok, Panda Express). Another attractive alternative to conventional fast food are “Mexican” fast food restaurants, where you can get Tex-Mex dishes such as tacos, burritos, enchiladas and the like. Even this niche market is like with chains Del Taco, Taco Bell, Taco Bueno, Taco John's and Salsarita's Fresh Cantina already industrialized to a certain extent.

Wraps and pitas are also popular in major American cities. Also only in metropolises with a cosmopolitan climate are other types of ethnic fast food offered, many of which are only known to a limited extent in Europe. B. interesting and varied topped Vietnamese sandwiches (Bánh mì), East and Southeast Asian noodle soups and middle eastern food like falafel, gyros and kebobs. A popular "German" fast food is bratwurst, which in the USA is served with sauerkraut and mustard on a hot dog bun.

Chinese fast food is also not necessarily lower in calories and healthier than hamburgers or pizza. If you want to save but do without fast food, you can go to Self-sufficiency dodge. In poor regions this is not easy because it is not profitable for supermarkets there to provide an offer that is attractive by European standards. In rich regions, on the other hand, many large supermarkets have a delicatessen department that sells freshly baked bread, cold cuts and fresh salads. Often even warm dishes such as B. Soups offered. In larger cities it is also worthwhile to look for independently run Delis To keep an eye out.

Pizza [edit]

Pepperoni pizza is one of the most popular American dishes.

Pizza (English: ['pi: tsə] with a long i :) deserves special emphasis in an article on American food because it has long outstripped the “classic” American fast food - the hamburger - in terms of distribution and popularity. There is no lunchtime group meeting, no children's birthday party on which the participants or guests are not fed with pizza. When something is on the table that everyone likes, pizza is the undisputed first choice in the United States.

Since pizza baking requires a special oven, pizza is more likely to be found in specialized restaurants and bakeries than in Italian restaurants. The latter often do not have any pizza in their menu. Of course there are also pizza restaurant chains in the USA (e.g. Domino's pizza, Pizza Hut, Sbarro). Pizza is treated as a fast food. As a result, pizza restaurants usually do not offer table service, but you order at the counter. People who like to drink a good wine with their pizza are usually well advised to buy it in advance and take the pizza with them to the hotel room with them.

While in Europe the staff pizza is common (1 pizza per person), pizza in the USA is baked either in a tray or as a round giant pizza that will fill several people. When ordering, you can choose between different sizes: a 12-inch pizza (1 inch = 2.54 cm; here around 30.5 cm) is enough for 1-2 people, depending on how thick it is 14-inch pizza (~ 35.5 cm) for 2-3 people, for 4 people you definitely need a 16-inch pizza (~ 40.5 cm). If in doubt, ask for a size recommendation when ordering. The sale of individual pieces of pizza (pizza by the slice) spread. Incidentally, pizza is almost always eaten with the fingers.

The typical American pizza is made with tomato sauce, cheese and pepperoni occupied; The latter is not understood to be a chilli pepper, but an Italian-American hard salami. In addition, many other rubbers are offered, which can usually be combined as desired. In addition to classic pizza, there are regional special forms: New York-style pizza z. B. is very thin; in order to be able to eat the pieces better, they can be folded up. Chicago-style pizza is baked in a deep pan like quiche and is just as generously topped. Impatient be warned: the cooking time is twice as long as normal thin pizza. California-style pizza (also: gourmet pizza) is creatively topped with unconventional ingredients.

American kitchens

Italian-American restaurant cuisine

Large restaurant chains such as “Applebees” guarantee their guests a reliable standard nationwide.

Most restaurants with “American” cuisine - often identified by the addition of “grill” to their name - actually offer a mixture of American, Italian and often Mexican restaurant cuisine. On the menus of relevant restaurant chains such as Applebee's, Bob Evans, Chili's, Denny's, Outback steakhouse, Texas Roadhouse and T.G.I. Friday's In addition to appetizers, salads, soups, hamburgers and steaks, there are usually some pasta dishes and Tex-Mex options such as taco chips or fajita. Some chains make special efforts to target specific audiences: Applebee's for example offers a number of in addition to "normal" Weight Watchers- courts; at Bob Evans Seniors can choose from a wide range of age-appropriate menus.

When ordering hamburgers and steaks in better restaurants you will definitely be asked how the cook should roast the meat. Options are amongst other things: rare (only briefly seared, inside very raw), medium rare (outside brown, inside raw), medium (outside brown, inside pink) and well done (well done). Many European tourists despair in American restaurants when it comes to choosing a salad because they are familiar with the usual local Dressing options are not familiar. For a vinegar and oil dressing you order Italian dressing or vinaigrette; In addition, however, many other dressings are offered, among them Ranch dressing, Thousand Island and Honey Mustard the most popular are. It's worth trying. A classic salad in which the dressing is fixed from the start is Caesar salad (Romaine lettuce with egg vinaigrette, croutons and parmesan).

Haute cuisine [edit]

Some of the most important culinary schools in the world are located in the USA, including this Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. In the big metropolises you will find many top restaurants, in which the most creative and interesting things that the gastronomic world has to offer are cooked. Internationally famous “chefs” such as Paul Bertolli, Anthony Bourdain, Bobby Flay, Thomas Keller, Emeril Lagasse, Roland Mesnier, Jeremiah Tower and Charlie Trotter cook in American restaurants.

The finest thing there is in the US is California Cuisine: a sophisticated top cuisine developed in California in the 1980s, which draws inspiration from European national kitchens as well as from East Asian and Pacific cuisines, but relies on the use of fresh local ingredients and appealing presentation. The most well-known representatives of California cuisine are Alice Waters (Berkeley) and Wolfgang Puck (Los Angeles).

There are two organizations in the USA that - similar to the Michelin Guide in Europe - award top restaurants with up to 5 "stars": the Mobile Travel Guide and the American automobile club AAA.

Regional kitchens [edit]

New England clam chowder.

New England

New England regional cuisine is characterized by the extensive use of seafood (lobster, mussels, haddock, cod), dairy products, potatoes, maple syrup and cranberries. The most famous specialty of the region is New England clam chowder, a hearty cream soup made from mussel meat and potatoes. Authentic New England cuisine is served at Bostoner, among other placesUnion Oyster House which is believed to be the oldest restaurant in the United States.

Off the New England coast are the best fishing grounds for lobster, and so it plays a big role in this regional cuisine. The so-called "Lobster Roll", a bread roll that is topped with lobster meat, is widespread. (Whole) cooked lobster is also very popular and is mainly served in the so-called "Lobster Shaks", small restaurants on the coast; who specialize in lobster. A cooked lobster costs around $ 30 in Portland (Maine), for example, but there is nowhere cheaper to buy lobster.

Oysters are also very popular in New England, and offshore are rich oyster stocks. Many restaurants have specials for this (1 oyster for 1 $).

New York City

New York City - a city in which almost all the cuisines in the world are represented - has produced a whole range of local specialties. Most famous are those Manhattan Clam chowder (a clam soup cooked with broth and tomatoes), New York-style pizza, New York-style pastrami, New York-style cheesecake (cheesecake made from cream cheese and eggs) and New York-style bagels. Some dishes invented in New York City have made careers well beyond the city, such as: B. Eggs Benedict, Waldorf salad, Vichyssoise, Reuben sandwich, Pasta primavera and General Tso's chicken.

Pennsylvania Dutch Cuisine

Around 85,000 live across different regions of the American East Pennsylvania Dutch, a group of Amish and other devout Mennonites whose ancestors immigrated from Germany in the 18th century and who have retained their traditional way of life as well as their southern German dialect to the present day. They form the highest proportion of the population in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The cuisine of this religious and cultural minority, whose members mostly live from agriculture and do not know about food refrigeration, is based on techniques and traditions that were widespread in rural Europe in the 18th century, but are forgotten in modern life. Some products of the Pennsylvania Dutch have also found widespread use in non-Mennonite America, especially their bread. Operate occasionally Pennsylvania Dutch also restaurants where you can get to know their extraordinary cuisine.

Middle West

Typical of the Midwestern cuisine, which has received significant inspiration from Central, Northern and Eastern European kitchens, are simple but hearty dishes such as hotdish (Potato or pasta bake), casseroles and meat loaf. Chicago and St. Louis have distinctive local kitchens and have dishes like Chicago-style pizza, Chicken Vesuvio (Chicago), St. Louis-style pizza and toasted ravioli