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This is also why all cheese in the US tastes to Europeans like plastic. It's extremely surprising that people actually buy cheese in the US, and they seem to have it with everything as well :/

To anyone who has tasted real cheese, it's just bizarre.

The other oddity is chocolate. In the US it seems to come universally without any milk or sugar added. Hersheys is bitter. Even the "Cadburys" (made under license) is quite hard to eat, and not anything like real chocolate.

And agreed. HFCS tastes pretty gross compared to the same drink with real sugar.

Where do you guys shop in the US? If you explore stores beyond 7/11, you'll see that there is plenty of "normal food" in the US.

Some people choose to eat artificially-produced cheese substitute, but despite the ads you see on TV, not everyone does.

The same goes for coffee and beer, mentioned in comments below. I always buy coffee within a day or two of roasting, and even if I buy it at the grocery store, it's still within two weeks. Sure, you can buy old coffee and save money, but you don't have to. (As for pre-ground coffee, many people value the convenience of not having to buy a $200 coffee grinder and grind their own coffee over having the best coffee possible. In America, you get to decide!)

Finally, we have a lot of good beer over here. In Chicago we have Two Brothers and Goose Island (who sometimes produce a good beer; Green Line Pale Ale -- tasty), and New Belgium and Dogfish Head are good American beers that are widely distributed throughout the country.

I think you Europeans need to watch a little less TV before you judge.

As an American who has spent significant time in Europe, I'll agree with you that it's quite possible to get good food in the US. However, the average quality of what the average person eats is indubitably lower and includes more processed crap.

I do think that things are changing for the better, however. On my most recent trip back home, I went to a supermarket that had large areas dedicated to speciality/high quality/non-cheezit-whiz stuff, something that you wouldn't have seen 20 years ago.

Some people choose to eat artificially-produced cheese substitute, but despite the ads you see on TV, not everyone does.

I never said that all American whatever was industrial artificial crap. However, there is a lot of it here, with less of the good stuff (and cultural awareness of it) as a counteracting force. Good beer is a revival, as are lots of other foodie things in the US.

And the coffee grinder I started with only cost $11.

I think you hit it on the head. In the US, the standards are lower and you are much more surrounded by poor options. My experience is that people in the US simply care more about price and convenience than about quality in many areas. That said, if you know your way around, you can find plenty of good food.

>> "Some people choose to eat artificially-produced cheese substitute,"

It's the same in restaurants, burger joints, etc etc.

I've only been over to the bay area, but I know what I taste :) OTOH, Things that are better there include Pizza, Burgers, Shakes, Smoothies, etc

It does seem absolutely impossible to find good chocolate, bacon, etc.

Yes, soda, cheese, chocolate... I noticed all these things too, but I figured it was just "different" around here, just a matter of taste. I have the same problems with some other foods and drinks as well... what they call "chocolate milk" here (in the US) is a joke, same for mayonnaise and even coffee. (I realize that neither the US nor European countries are native producers of coffee, but somehow something seems to go wrong during the importing and processing.)

Coffee. You're not supposed to use roast that's more than 2 weeks old. The beans in the bags on the grocery store shelves is way older than that. And ground coffee? You're not supposed to let ground coffee sit around for more than an hour. No wonder office coffee in the US all tastes bitter, sour, and stale. The grounds in those little foil packets have usually been sitting around for several months!

The entire time I've spent in Italy -- not one espresso with any trace of bitterness. Every cup of coffee was excellent to my taste.

  The entire time I've spent in Italy -- not one espresso with any 
  trace of bitterness. Every cup of coffee was excellent to my taste."
Italian espresso is good because of consistent dosing. If you go in a coffee bar in Italy, chances are they don't have a grinder in house. They're using vacuum-sealed pre-ground coffee, and dosing very exactly before making espresso.

The industrial grinders they use to pre grind all of that espresso you were drinking give extremely consistent grinds, and the packaging lets it sit on shelves for months at a time. It's not even particularly high-quality coffee.

Don't take my word for it though:

  In Italy, espresso is a mass consumption item, mostly made from 
  coffees of the same low quality as is found in supermarkets 
  everywhere. Since the aromas of such coffees are not all that 
  great, staling is of little consequence, while keeping doses 
  precise and yields high is of great consequence, since one 
  needs to extract every iota of caramel to make the shots 
  palatable. So the ground coffee sits in dosers going stale, 
  but is precisely dosed, 6.5 grams into single baskets, 13 
  into doubles.

This makes a lot of sense. My home coffee has gotten better as I've gotten more consistent with my procedure. (Fill the same kettle to the exact same point. Take it off when the whistle is just audible, move it to a cold burner, set the timer for 2 minutes...etc...)

What this also means is that I should be able to buy the same packets and have access to Italian espresso.

This also makes bad American office coffee even more exasperating. Why is it that US office coffee is so often sour and trashy tasting? Why is it that Italians can do it, but Americans fail? I suspect it's because the former population doesn't care so much.

So true. That's at least one of the reasons we load up coffee with sugar & cream in North America. In Italy I never felt like adding anything to the espresso.

But Americanos from Starbucks in Canada taste like a cup of mud, without a flavour shot or something else to mask the real taste.

> To anyone who has tasted real cheese, it's just bizarre.

And even in Europe, "real" cheese isn't real anymore. Back in the day, cheese usually had those big holes in it, - they were caused by pro biotic bacteria, while the cheese was aging. However, due to these holes, the transportation of cheese became less efficient, the sizes became unpredictable and therefore the cheeses became harder to stack. So, nowadays, most big producers of cheese perform a heating process to kill all bacteria, getting rid of one of the few things that were actually healthy of cheese.


In the UK, perhaps. When I go to the cheese counter here (in Finland), nearly all cheeses have the holes in them.

"Back in the day"?

Most of the local cheeses you can get here (Austria) have holes in them.

> Back in the day, cheese usually had those big holes in it

Uh that depends on the cheese, a camembert or a maroilles with "big holes" in it is not normal.

Surely not here: http://www.cheesesupply.com/images/jarlsberg.jpg

(a top selling cheese in norway)

Most American cheese is pretty nasty. Wisconsin has some good stuff, though you've gotta try a handful of bad ones to find them :) I've worked with a few travelers / Europeans, and while WI may not have a taste for the softer, riper cheeses, what's there is apparently pretty competitive.

My sister moved to Illinois, and has been (extremely successfully) converting her neighbors away from whatever those orange blocks are they sell there. She brings back 20+ lbs of cheese whenever she visits. She's also managed to educate a couple in cheese curds: squeaky, not fried.

Beer as well. Even the stuff imported from Europe, they say that it doesn't ship well and that's why it doesn't taste as good, but I think that's bullshit.

In today's world, the process to ship mass amount of goods across the Atlantic only takes a few days--a week max. That is not nearly enough time for the taste of the beer to degrade. I think that the European beermakers purposely make exported beer taste more watered-down to play to American tastes--which happen to be the likes of Bud Light. I don't understand America's obsession with light beer.

Not only light beer, but icy cold beer! Some bars here even take it as a point of pride that their brew is chilled down into the low 30's Fahrenheit range and furthermore served in a mug that's been kept in a freezer! You can't even taste a beverage under those conditions. Many claim that beer tastes better that way. The truth is that many cheap American brews start to get skunky once they warm up enough. Yet lots of my fellow countrymen want it that way and disdain anything different.

Oh please. This attitude is at least 20 years out of date. The US has a number of excellent, world class cheeses which are becoming more and more accessible every day. I can now walk into my local safeway and be confronted with an entire display case full of artisinal, high quality cheese.

True, certain things like raw milk cheese are unavailable but it's certainly not true that US cheeses universally taste like plastic.

I can only say that of the cheese I've eaten in restaurants, Frys, Safeway, etc it's been universally horrible.

Yes, perhaps if you go to a niche speciality cheese corner shop, you can find good cheese in the US. But that's not much use.

Try the cheese counter at Whole Foods. YMMV. Some of the people there care about cheese, some are just there for a paycheck. I recommend the Humbolt Fog.

Sure you can get good cheese, but it's not predominant. Same as getting a good bread in UK. I guess that was the point.

Challenge: try to find a bakery in Ireland.

I thought that brown bread I got at just about every Irish B&B was great! Then again, I'm from the US.

At first, I thought you were talking about our obsession with dark chocolates. Then, I realized you were talking about candy bars. They used to taste much better, sadly, and I think the slow changes in the recipes have people remembering the brand and how it used to taste rather than how it currently tastes.

I think it was my first trip to Europe (Paris) that revolutionized my attitude toward food. It wasn't so much going there that was the issue as much as it was coming back and re-tasting the standard American diet. I was already starting to buy higher-end products, but it was a revelation to taste it after being away for two weeks.

Maybe you're just buying crap?

There's lots of good cheese easily available. Say what you will about my neighboring state of Wisconsin, but you can find plenty of the non-industrial variety there.

And chocolate? Hershey's is your standard??? No wonder. Hershey's is crap!!! I thought everyone knew that but just ate it cause it's cheap.

Basically, if you limit your eating to mass produced, industrialized foods, crap's what you get, with few exceptions. It's like judging all American beer by pointing to Miller Lite!

>> "And chocolate? Hershey's is your standard??? No wonder"

All the times I have visited the US, I have not been able to find any chocolate sold in convenience stores, supermarkets etc that doesn't taste like crap. The best I've found is a muskateer bar which is vaguely bearable. It's similar to the cheapest chocolate you can buy in the UK.

Perhaps if you go to a specific boutique chocolatier you can find some nice chocolate. But in the UK, you can just pop into any newsagent corner shop and get some good chocolate.

> This is also why all cheese in the US tastes to Europeans like plastic.

Come to Wisconsin, we have real cheese (if buy the local stuff). :)

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