travel sins

I came across this article in my morning reading about dining in American chains while abroad. It's something I definitely try not to do at home and avoid completely when I'm away, lest some observant foreigner would conclude, "See, all Americans do subsist on fast-food."

Many, many years ago, my cousin was visiting me when I was studying in London, and after a few pub-ciders, an English gentleman we were chatting to made one such claim. Immediately my cousin protested, "I've never even been inside a McDonalds." I'm pretty sure I followed up with, "She hasn't. Plenty of Americans don't eat fast food...and we hate the stuff."

I've heard such tropes as, "All Americans are stupid" and "All Americans eat crap" more times than I can remember while traveling and living abroad. To me? What's really stupid and crappy is making sweeping generalizations about any peoples—but that's another post.

I think the author of the article makes a really good point about eating fast-food in other countries to see what's different—as a cultural exploration. My sister visits Japan for work most Decembers and has told me they do indeed eat KFC on Christmas. You can get a beer with your Big Mac in McDonald's in Germany, and my cousin and I were saddened later that evening when we discovered that KFC in England served chips instead of mashed potatoes.

I'll probably be writing later at my local Starbucks; please say, "hi" if you see me.