Friday, March 14, 2008

Supersize me

One thing that keeps on striking me here in America is how fat some people are. It’s not just the typical overweight you see everywhere in the world. No, here you see people who are really, truly, ugly huge. Like this 20-something black woman having lunch at a diner. She was sitting alone at a table and in front of her were three burgers piled up, two portions of fries, at least 1 liter of Cola and a bucket (literally) of chicken wings…

Call me naive or call me spoiled by the Lebanese refined ways of eating, but so many Americans don’t eat, they simply gobble, devour and chomp their food down as much and as fast as they can. To be honest, the diners and other fast food restaurant do an excellent job in providing the right dining experience: portions are much larger than anywhere else in the world. Even a Big Mac, which is supposed to be equal across the globe, is significantly larger in the USA.

Also, while fast food is not necessarily cheap (you spend easily up to 10 USD per meal), the super size options usually are. For a dollar or less you can almost double your portion of fries, get a double-layered hamburger or get that extra large portion of chicken wings. Like other shopping, the Americans are experts in making you buy more. It’s just so damn tempting.

When it comes to brand name clothes, it’s obviously a good thing to purchase your Ralph Lauren polo shirt for 19.99 instead of 69.99. Things are different though when you’re “convinced” into buying all those extra calories and cholesterol at discount prices.

Does it have to be like this? Well, one thing is sure, it’s easier to change your own eating habits than it is to convince all the McDonald’s, Burger Kings and KFC’s of this world to scale down their portions. Luckily, for the food-conscious tourist, there are ways to get out of America weighing the same as when you came in.

The best thing I found was is to stick to kids menus. You might get the occasional strange look, but trust you me, those children portions are large enough for an adult.

Another option is to try out the salads. They are usually excellent. Keep in mind not to finish your plate when ordering a salad. The portions might be healthy but they’re still huge nonetheless.

Don’t be too freakish about your health, though. That won’t work in the USA. Every now and then you simply have to let go and indulge in an 18 oz (that’s over 500 gram!) burger with melted Swiss cheese on top and comes with fries. This would be after you’ve finished your bucket of Chicken wings with blue cheese. As for desert, be sure not to miss some huge piece of cake. Simply scan the menu for something chocolaty and you can’t go wrong in the land of plenty.