6.17.2010

American Food

Okay, so a month and a half ago I promised to regale you with tales of my trip to Florida. Well...I'm sorry, but you should have known how late I might be with this post. First off, it's very picture-heavy, which means a lot of uploading time (aka time I could be using to sleep or watch The Cleveland Show). Second, I really wanted to make it funny! I find a lot of the time I write an "America is like this/Canada is like this" article, it ends up being kind of lazy with the same punchlines you've heard many times before ("Hurrrrrrrrr Mericans are fat"). Anyways, the part of Florida I was staying in wasn't very trashy, which means that I wasn't able to take any good pictures for us to laugh at. The Sads. But I was able to spend plenty of time in the grocery store and took lots and lots of pictures of fatty 'Merican foods, sugary sweets, cheesy sodium-laden treats, and all-round Enemies of the American Heart Association and those fighting the good fight against diabeetus. Alright, are we ready??? I like to call this post:

Americans are Fat for a Reason
or
Vacationing Canadians are Self-righteous and Smug

I can easily predict that even as I am lying on my deathbed, with one foot in death's door, I will still be completely blown away by the flavours of American yogurt, with the Yoplait brands in particular. For instance, not only is the Key Lime Pie flavour (which has a flavour profile that includes lime, creamy-ness, and buttery crust) available in Yoplait's original recipe but the Whips! recipe as well. That means that the average American consumer needs (nay, demands!) their yogurts vary in texture but also maintain the same flavours they have come to love. Also they want their yogurt to taste vaguely of buttery citrus pie (BARF).

Last year the flavours that really blew me away were Boston Cream Pie and Cinnamon Roll. This year it was Raspberry Cheesecake and Red Velvet Cake. I wish to address each separately:
Raspberry Cheesecake: Here is something I do not understand. I don't get why people want their yogurt to taste like cheesecakes. It seems really weird and gross, especially knowing that there is no actually cream cheese component to the yogurt. Now, the raspberry is a whole other sack of hammers; there isn't any actual raspberry preserve in the yogurt. It's flavouring. The whole thing is yogurt and flavouring oils. Are you fucking hearing me?!!? This foodstuff is meant to smell and taste like something from The Cheesecake Factory, and the only correlation between the two is that the flavour of this yogurt was actually created in a factory (like Frankenstein's monster, natch). It's just so Futurama to me, like food pellets or that gum from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory that tastes like a roast beef dinner.
Red Velvet Cake: Besides being the new bacon, red velvet cake is something I would never, ever associate with a yogurt-based food. The cake gets its flavour from cocoa and vegetable oil (look it up, the oil is what makes it different) and the icing is cream cheese frosting. Let's add up the flavour profile of this one:
Cocoa + Vegetable Oil + Red Dye #2 + cream cheese + flour/baking soda/eggs = yogurt
In what weird, fucked up world do you want to eat yogurt that very vaguely tastes like cake? Please, I want to know! Find me a fatty who lives for this stuff beyond its foodstuff novelty; I need to know what went wrong in the womb.

Okay, so back to my thoughts on yogurt texture. In Canada, our yogurt usually comes in 2 textures: regular and light (the obvious difference is that regular is creamy and light is typically runnier and thinner). Now, I say usually because sometimes you can find mousse-like yogurts (which aren't that popular because they taste like crap) and very thick yogurts like Liberté Méditerranée but they're both kind of a niche thing. Anyways, in America they have tons of textures: regular, light, thick and creamy, whipped, fluffy, smooth and light, chalky, gritty, syrupy, etc etc. And they are really really popular; I guess Americans, not content with the broad catalogue of flavours, also needed an expansive stable of mouth textures for their yogurts (for a second I forgot I was just talking about yogurts. People! Americans have a million varieties of EACH. KIND. OF. FOOD. I just don't get it).

This is terrific for two reasons:
1. America is able to make even shitty vanilla creme sandwich cookies look tasty by adding adorable, contemporary animal graphic design to their packaging.
2. Hello?!? Does no one at Publix know that Vanilla Gorilla is the nickname for both a white guy with a big dong and/or the guy who cheated on America's Sweetheart Sandra Bullock?
Note-of-shame: Yes, that package is empty :(

This is the Hidden Valley Ranch wall at Wal-Mart. EWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!! Number one, ranch dressing is so fucking gross; it tastes like stale, shitty milk mixed with a package of dip mix from the Dollar store. Number two, it makes salad taste like a daycare. Number three, ranch dressing reminds me of crappy parties where someone puts out a tray of dried up carrot sticks and bruised celery and a huge bowl of ranch for dipping. BARF. Look, I don't want to claim to be some kind of high-falootin' big shot: I love shitty chicken caesar salads and mozzarella sticks and the like, but ranch dressing is the lowest of the low. Fun fact: next time you watch A&E's Intervention, count how many times you see a bottle of HVR. I bet it's more than 3!

On to a much sadder, less fun to make fun of subject: Pop Tarts. At least yogurt and salad dressing are purchased by grown adults who are able to make their own food-based decisions with at least an ounce of Food Pyramid consciousness, but Pop Tarts are marketed, made, and sold exclusively to children. Note: I am a grown-ass adult and the odd time I will purchase Pop Tarts to eat as a snack, but for the sake of argument, can we just agree that Pop Tarts are a child's foodstuff? Okay, good. So yeah, Pop Tarts are sold under the guise of fast, on-the-go breakfast food, despite the completely obvious fact that there is no pediatrician or nutritionist that would ever recommend any child eat Pop Tarts for breakfast. So let's just play Devil's Advocate for a second and pretend that you're a lazy mom (notice how I didn't say lazy broke mom? Exactly - that's because serving-to-serving, cereal and milk is much cheaper than Pop Tarts. Truth; Pop Tarts aren't even for moms on the F-Stamps). Okay, so you're a lazy mom who can't take two seconds to make her kid a decent breakfast and you throw a Pop Tart into the toaster. Would you not feel like CPS would come and collect your children if you fed them Blueberry Muffin Pop Tarts? Yeah, those are practically part of the raw food diet compared to these:

Amazing. Vanilla Milkshake and Hot Fudge Sundae. Breakfast that tastes like Dairy Queen. Also I love this:

25% less sugar? Thank Christ, I'd hate for Deremy and Jerrick to get Type 2 Diabetes.

This one is the best: Frosted Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. So it's sweet pastry filled with cookie dough-filling and frosted with chocolate icing. So it's dough and dough and icing. This sounds like cheesecake...WAIT A SECOND! It all makes sense! Americans need everything to taste like cheesecake. Which brings me to my next thought: why hasn't Pop Tarts created a cheesecake-filled varietal? What's that? Pillsbury Toaster Strudels beat them to it? Of course. Those sneaky bastards.

Well, if this isn't the most obvious sign of the apocalypse, then I don't know what is. In the event your vision is bad, this is a whole wall of Oreo cookies. This particular wall happens to the be second of two Oreo cookie walls in Wal-Mart. That's right! In Wal-Mart, there are two Oreo cookie aisles. Two. TWO FUCKING AISLES. These are the same people that still don't want gays to get married or legislate Universal Healthcare because it will 'ruin the country'. Fuck that, the fatties ruined America a long ass time ago. Hey America, know how many Oreo aisles we have in Canadian grocery stores? 0 AISLES. That's because we have a small section for cookies to ensure that people don't gorge themselves half to death. Meanwhile, back at For Fucks Sakes...

Oreo Blizzard cookies.

Even gum in America is dessert. We usually get these wacky gum flavours too, but they never do too well. I guess people up here get grossed out if gum isn't mint or cinnamon. You know what? Our loss, because this gum was fantastic! It didn't taste so much like pina colada as it did sweet pineapple, which was refreshing. Pineapple gum! Great! So good I chewed every piece in 3 days and wanted more. Although I think it was just the novelty, because it isn't very practical. Imagine eating a shawarma and then eating a piece of pina colada gum? Yeah, I also just barfed a little in my mouth.

Grits! Is there anything more 'Merican than grits? Canada has Cream of Wheat, but we eat it differently (sugar, sometimes cream). Americans like their grits savoury and cheesy (or plain with salt and pepper). I think that grits are an amazing staple of the diner breakfast and really wish they would replace potatoes in the Canadian breakfast 4-square (eggs/meat/toast/potatoes). They're warm, not terrible for you, have a decent amount of fibre, can be made cheaply and quickly, fill you up. However (oh, you knew there was going to be a however here). Just like what Quaker Instant Oatmeal is to actual oatmeal, Quaker Instant Grits are not really grits. They're very high in sodium, fat, calories, and are chock full o' artificial flavours, such as:
RED EYE GRAVY & COUNTRY HAM (ew, what?)
CHEDDAR CHEESE (okay, that's not terrible)
AMERICAN CHEESE (isn't American cheese just fake processed cheese? Why would you want your grits to taste like that?)
BUTTER (oh hayul naw. Is real butter not readily available any more?)
COUNTRY BACON (why is everything "country"? Like, I get that pigs can't be farmed in downtown Detroit. But it's the same as using the label "farm fresh eggs". Obviously - to put "sewer cultivated eggs" would be totally stupid).
Grits are one of those things that you should be able to add stuff to on your own, like pasta. Imagine seeing Pesto 4-Cheese Roasted Garlic Spice pasta? Right? You get where I'm going with this.

Alright, enough negativity. America does do some foods way better than Canada. Case in point, Fage greek yogurt. Why why why WHY don't we have this in Canada?!?! I would sell my sister for Fage. I would commit murder for Fage. This stuff is so good, I need to move on because I'm about to cry thinking of all the terrible things I would do to ensure Fage was brought to Canadian supermarkets.

Country Gravy aka Sawmill Gravy aka Baby Jesus Tears is one of those things you can't describe until you've tasted it. 4 of your 5 senses are working against you to ensure you don't ever ingest it:
SIGHT: It looks like semen
SMELL: It smells like sausages cooked in semen
TOUCH: Its gooey, like...a wet baby diaper (I bet you thought I was going to say semen)
SOUND: It sounds like semen. What? Exactly.
and then...
TASTE: It tastes like a cold winter's eve by the fire. It tastes like the first rain of Spring. It tastes like a baby's smile. It tastes like sausage and butter and saltiness and cream and heart and love and soul and God.

Hells to the no, Bobby B!!! Crush comes in two flavours in Canada: Aluminum Can Orange and 2L Plastic Welfare Bottle Grape. Both aren't very good. But in the US of A you can get Strawberry Crush? Orange Crush in the bottle?? Also, if you'll note in the picture, people don't get pissy when you move the bottles around. Would you like 2 of each flavour? Well, go right ahead, good sir. In Canada, someone would give you cut eye for doing that.

Ah, Coffee Mate. Those who like it, like it a lot. In Canada, we have 5 flavours: Original, French Vanilla, Hazelnut, Irish Cream, and Double Double Mate (which is just sweet cream). In the US, they have close to 30 FLAVOURS. Now, most of these are seasonal: for instance, you can only get Peppermint Mocha in the Winter, Pumpkin Spice and Vanilla Chai Latte in the Fall. But in general, walk into any grocery store and you'll find many flavours of Coffee Mate, like this little guy here - Belgian Chocolate Toffee. I know I was bitching and moaning several pictures up about how America gets a 4-hour boner for yogurt flavours, but this makes sense. You can get different, fun coffee options at Starbucks, so why not at home? Plus, Coffee Mate doesn't pretend it's something it's not; it knows its nothing more than flavoured, powdered non-dairy creamer aka straight-up chemicals. Plus, it lasts a long time. This particular container of Coffee Mate was gifted to the recipient on May 10th and was completely used by June 21st. That's value.

As a fervent baker, I am always on the lookout for cool baking ingredients, syrups, spices, etc. These blew me away - they're very tiny caramel balls. Seriously, can you comprehend for a second that I used to MAKE THESE?!? I would take a shitload of caramel squares, unwrap them all (that's the worst), cut them with scissors into 4 pieces, roll each piece in my hands to form a ball, curse at God. My only regret is that I only bought one bag and not 40. I think I will make cookies with these.

Finally, I have made fun of Americans in the past for Cheesecake flavoured Jell-O pudding (a slander I fully stand behind) but sometimes they get it right: case in point, Jell-O coconut cream flavour and white chocolate flavour. I have yet to sample the coconut cream pudding, but I have a very good feeling it will be amazing. The white chocolate flavour, however, is quite bittersweet. In Canada, we used to have this flavour but it wasn't a big seller, so it was discontinued. Can I tell you how delicious it was? The white chocolate flavour was so mild and nuanced, it was almost like what Vanilla should be. Very very good. Anyways, they pulled it and I have spent the past 2 years combing Dollar Stores and food banks (just kidding...or am I?) looking for the white chocolate flavour with no luck. When I'm in the US, I always buy a box because it's so nice. I like to make it for dessert when I have company. Note: it tastes very special when you put fresh raspberries in it before it sets.

Anyways, that's it! That's all the gross-tastic (and delicious) foods I found in America. I can't wait to go back to see what new things I can find (Spoiler alert! I bet they'll be very fatty).

2 comments:

Abby said...

Holy hell, we have all that stuff here?? I need to get to the grocery store STAT!

dylan said...

wait...there's a part of florida that isn't trashy??