French, Chinese, Vietnamese, Italian, etc. Every country has its own national dishes, food traditions, and food favorites.
When I think about American cuisine, I think about fast food. Burgers, pizza, fries, milkshakes, eggs, bacon, sausages and pancakes. McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Burger King and Wendy’s. This is what you see in all the American movies and commercials.
After moving to the U.S., I was surprised about how many Mexican restaurants there are and that there actually are a lot of healthy places to eat. You can find acai bowls everywhere, and there is a lot of insta-worthy places with quinoa bowls and colorful salads.
Although, you have to keep in mind that it is almost twice as expensive to eat healthy in America than it is to eat unhealthy.
The biggest culture shock for me, in addition to food in America, compared to Denmark, is that candy, cookies, and cakes are cheaper than fruit and vegetables.
The first day I went groceries shopping in San Diego, I paid $5 for three peaches and I got a package with 30 cookies for $2. When you are from Denmark or Scandinavia in general, that seems insane.
In Denmark, we have a “sugar tax” on everything that contains sugar. Cookies, cakes, chocolate, ice cream, gummy bears, and lollipops. This means that everything that contains sugar is more expensive and the reason why the government made this law was to make the people eat healthier.
In contrast, fruit and vegetables are very cheap in Denmark and you can get a kilo of peaches for less than $2.
Another thing I was surprised about after moving to the U.S., is that people eat out all the time. Many Americans get take away for breakfast and lunch at the office and it is normal to go out for dinner two or three times a week.
In Denmark, people normally bring a bag lunch for work and, of course, it often contains rye bread. Going out for dinner is not something a normal Danish family does very often, and if they do, it is often just during the weekends. It is a typically Danish thing that a family eats a homemade dinner together at home every night.
This is actually also a part of the “hygge-feeling” that I told you about in my first column. Danes spend a lot of time around the kitchen table talking about what they did that day, about current affairs, and having fun.
Mathilde Rousseau Bjerregaard is an editorial intern with San Diego Community Newspaper Group, who is from Aarhus, Denmark. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.