"American" Food

Authored by:
Asha R.

In every German supermarket I've been in so far, there hasn't been a single time that I haven't seen food with an American flag on the packaging or the word "American" printed across it. It's quite entertaining to my friends from the US to see what ideas Germany has about the food we eat. Although almost every aspect about American culture has made its way to Germany, somehow what we eat has been lost in translation.  

For example, Brownie Cookies. I'm not sure about you, but I have never heard of this product in my life. The concept is quite simple, brownies and cookies mixed together, but I don't believe for a second that it is "The Famous American Style Recipe". To be honest, it looks like the type of thing that you'd find on Pinterest and decide on a whim to try out. 

I saw this in a Hobby Lobby type store. I can't tell you if they taste "American", but I do find it interesting how it doesn't tell you what the flavor is. Lemon, vanilla, pumpkin? Who knows.

 When I saw this at my local grocery store, I did a little double take. "Cool American" flavored Doritos? What in the world could these possibly taste like? The answer is Cool Ranch. Who would have guessed!

 This loaf of bread doesn't directly say "American" on it, but it's obvious from the red, white, and blue color scheme and the accompanying stars where this food "comes from". Yes, Germany does do bread differently than the US. In America, we basically have two well-known types of bread: white and whole grain/whole wheat. Germany has a million and one different types of bread. Most of this bread is ate at breakfast. Americans on the other hand, according to my host dad, are known for their sandwich lunches made with fluffy white bread and everything leftover in the fridge thrown all together, kind of like the sandwich on the bag. 

You've heard of the Berliner, now get ready for the Amerikaner! From what I've gathered, an Amerikaner is simply a flat donut type pastry with glazed frosting on top. Not something American, but bears the name nonetheless. 

I've also discovered that lots of grocery stores here carry a brand called "American Style". Their products include many stereotypical "American" foods: hamburgers, peanut butter, and cookies to name a few. I've actually had some of these before. Chocolate chip cookies aren't very popular here in Germany, which I find sad, but these ones are pretty much your run of the mill Chips Ahoy knockoffs. 

In the last few years, seeing "special" food like Nutella from Europe to the US and peanut butter to Europe from the US has become a lot more common. While Americans commonly eat peanut butter in PB&J sandwiches, my host family eats their peanut butter on bread rolls for breakfast. 

I've never had "New York Style" Pastrami, so I can't speak to the authenticity of this one, but if it tastes anything like it looks, I think I'll pass. 

These next two products make me cringe just thinking about them. You know how there's just some food that you shouldn't buy already prepared? Well these two definitely fit into that category. Both of these were in the refrigerator section, with the buns and cheese already put together. There's just some things that are best homemade. I'll leave it at that.  

While out shopping with my host sisters in Cologne, I saw an English Shop and wanted to peek in quick. It was almost like being back in the States again. When I was on my school exchange in June, we couldn't find Mountain Dew anywhere. I've been seeing it more recently now in vending machines, normal German grocery stores, and then this British grocery store. Also, root beer. Root beer isn't very common here. 

Then I discovered the "US Foods" section. 

Cereals and oatmeal mixes, pretty standard. I have no idea why, but Germany never developed a breakfast culture of eatng cereal. My host family has only a Corn Flakes type of cereal in their cupboard, which they eat seldom. We don't normally eat cereal for breakfast, almost always bread. 

More cereal (Reese's Puffs, my favorite!), pancake and cake mixes, frosting, different syrups, chocolate chips, and Mac & Cheese. My mom sent me some Mac & Cheese recently and my host family had no idea what it was!

Many (some might say too many) flavors of pop-tarts, Twinkies with various fillings, marshmallows and marshmallow fluff, Oreos, jelly, peanut butter, a mixture of the two, popcorn (not just the normal butter kind), Kool-Aid in various flavors, Crisco, pumpkin pie filling, pickles, and lots of condiments. 

It was super cool for me to find out what Germans think American food is like and how they come upon those perceptions. Like I've said before, I never realized how much attention other countries pay to what the US does before I came to Germany. 

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