by Malaika Allen
So far, we have been to: London, England, Cardiff, Wales and Dublin, Ireland. Each of them is similar and different in their own ways.
When I first came here, I thought things would be completely different from the United States. I found that there are a lot of similarities between the two countries, such as: language and food. Language was obvious, but the accents are a lot thicker than what I was expecting to hear. So, thick that after one word people know that I am from America.
One of the biggest difference I have noticed since I have been here is the food. No, I am not saying the kinds of foods are different, because I might be sick if I eat another burger. I am referring to the freshness of the ingredients, portion size, and a few of the special offers.
During my first week in London, I tried a barbecue burger from McDonald’s. I did notice a few things when I went inside the restaurant. For one, they had the machines where you can automatically order and pay for your food. Before now, I had only seen those devices on social media when people talk about “the future” is here. Secondly, they do not give people bags unnecessarily, but if you do need one they charge a small fee (That goes for the grocery stores too). I can see why people carry around reusable bags and only purchase small amounts of food at a time. The signs for the food also said whether or not it was process, which I found very interesting. That notice made me wonder about the foods that are typically consumed in the United Kingdom and how it could be different from what we have in the United States.
The actual food itself tasted a lot different than what I am used to having. Since I have been here, a majority of the food has actually tasted fresh! Unlike back home, where a burger from McDonald’s is just a cheap-quick bite. It actually tasted as though somewhere down the line someone attempted to think about how to make the food better for you and taste good. These meals have been like night and day, which brings me back to the processed sign over the McDonald’s sandwiches. People here do not consume nearly as much processed food as we do. Everything is fresh and organic and much closer than what we consume in the United States. The government here actually cares about the health of its people. To help to cut down on obesity, they cut down the amount of sugar in things like soft drinks. For example, if a Diet Coke-Cola is regularly €2.70, then the regular is €2.90. The government has implemented a Sugar Tax to encourage customers to stick to the slightly healthier choices. I am not sure how effective this has been, but the first thing to go seems to always be original Coke-Cola.
Looking at the United States, it is sad the amount of things that they are willing to allow safe for consumers. The foods, even in the grocery stores, are not nearly as fresh and EVERYTHING is over-processed and full of unnecessary sugar. They really have me considering making better food choices when I get back home. Some of those choices might be: cutting pop out completely, buying fresher food in smaller amounts, and cooking more than I go out (I don’t think I’ll be able to go out to eat for a while after all this “fast food” I’ve been eating).
As a result of the number of health conscious decisions the government has made, I have no seen many if any obese individuals. It may also have to do with the amount of walking it takes to get around here, but diet is the larger factor in weight loss and maintaining weight. Back home I could not go far without seeing someone who was severely overweight. It is good to see that the country has recognized a major issue affect its people and are working to aid in helping people handle this health problem. I can see where the argument might be that the government is trying to control everything in its peoples lives. I think I like this kind of intervention, because in America the government could either careless or do what is more profitable. So, if that means finding the most processed-sugar filled foods then they will, because the country is ran as a business and not as a place where human beings are trying to live their best lives.
A large majority of the food options available here are the same as back home. Every block has at least five bars that serve beers and burgers and a dessert place. The only real fast food places they have here are Subway and McDonald’s. They do have Burger King as well, but it is an actual sit down and eat restaurant more than a fast food place. It’s amazing to see how much American culture has influenced the food over here. They have meals and sauces named after different states, such as: California, Mississippi, and even New York. Before this experience I never really looked to hard into the foods that we had, because that was what I was used to.
The customer service has also been an interesting experience. Here the waiters and waitresses make minimum wage, so they do not survive on tips. So, when we go to restaurants, they don’t come back to ask if we needed anything else. If we do need something we have to almost jump out of our seats to get someone’s attention, which is something I am not used to dealing with on a regular basis. In some of these restaurants, such as Nando’s we just go up to order and it is brought to our table. It is something that is a little difficult to get used to, but that is mostly because what one would need is in the kitchen (where customers don’t go). I like the customer service in the United States better and appreciate it a little more than I did before this trip.
Overall, the experiences I have had dealing with the food and all things surrounding it have been eye-opening. There are some things I am considering changing when I get home and other I may just cut out all together. The United States and the United Kingdom may be different, but they are actually a lot alike too.