I’m reading a British mystery novel, and the detectives keep eating beans on toast. I had never heard of it before. Apparently it’s a common thing there, like donuts for American cops. Sounds disgusting.
Other literary sources (Terry Pratchett) indicate that vindaloo (hot curry) is a favored meal for cops on the night shift. I don’t think I’ve had curry in decades. I read somewhere that it’s the most popular food in England.
In older British detective stories (most notably by Dorothy Sayers), the restaurants of choice are French, perhaps because Lord Peter is a man of means. When actual British food is described, it sounds heavy and mildly disgusting: steak and kidney pie, sausages and mash, fish and chips, kippers, black pudding, Cornish pasties, spotted dick…
There’s an old joke that says that heaven is where the project is directed by Germans, the labor is supplied by Brits, the Italians provide the entertainment, and the French provide the food. In hell, the Italians direct the project, the French provide the labor, the Brits supply the food, and the Germans are the entertainers.
My dad’s parents were German immigrants. Dad used to buy sauerkraut from time to time. I hated the stuff. I always thought it was made with vinegar, but in a Guideposts article by someone raised in Alsace-Lorraine (the German-speaking part of France), the writer describes vast vats of cabbage fermenting with salt. Later I read about kimchi being buried in the ground to ferment. A friend told me that the Vietnamese make something similar from mustard greens. It turns out that fermenting late crops is a simple way to store them as a winter source of vegetables.
I taught ESL at a language school in Dallas for a year. More than half the students were Korean. Whenever I walked into the classroom, there was always a pungent aroma, something like spicy garlic. At a wonderful restaurant in Koreatown, I discovered its source: we were served a dozen varieties of kimchi, many flavors and degrees of hotness. It made its presence known long after the meal was over.
Seven years later, I briefly dated one of my former students. She didn’t like kimchi herself, but she made me a couple of varieties. I kept them in my fridge and nibbled at them over the course of a couple of months. The kimchi lasted longer than the relationship did. (She was an illegal alien and I wasn’t in a position to deal with that.)
Do you have any idea how hamburgers and hot dogs come across to people from other cultures? When you think of them objectively, hot dogs are quite disgusting (ground up meat by-products stuffed into a sausage skin). Hamburgers are greasy and bland, not tasty like the grass-fed beef of other countries. French fries… bleah. Ketchup… yuck.
Maybe that’s why Subway is my default. My wife, on the other hand, is addicted to spicy wings from the Publix deli.