Of course the title is a generalization – but I think it’s an accurate one.
Most all “United Statesens” I know whom have visited Spain tell me the same things; “Spanish food is so fattening,” “Spanish food is so greasy,” “Spanish food is disgusting looking,” “I can’t eat anything that can look back at me from the plate,” etcetera.
So then why are Spaniards so thin and among the “longest livers” in Europe?
I love telling Spanish-food-loving people my favorite stories of American friends whom have visited Spain. Most Americans say things like those listed above. But how can an overweight American who never exercises also be so fanatical about the healthy aspect of the food he’s eating? More than one American has been served a Spanish dish, oftentimes it’s the emblematic Paella, and the American couldn’t touch it because of the tiny crab sitting atop the pile of rice and looking directly at its maker.
This really happened. A former coworker visited Spain and was served a plate of paella with a small crab sitting on top. After the waiter set down the plate he slowly spun the plate so that the crab was facing the eater. The eater, not used to eating anything which looks exactly how it looks in its natural state, couldn’t eat the paella sitting below it.
Same goes with fish and roasted suckling pig. Americans can not eat anything with the eyes, ears, or tails still on it when it arrives from the kitchen. They just can’t. They’re disgusted. Spain is famous for its fish and pork and when an American receives his fish (s)he often sees something which still has its skin and scales, still has its tail, and – worst of all – still has its head and eyeballs. “Cochinillo” (roasted, suckling pig) is the same when it arrives, complete with its curly and crispy tail, crispy ears, crispy snout, and impossible-to-eat tiny hooves and toenails.
Most all Spaniards I know whom have visited the United States tell me the same things; “American food is so boring,” “American food is so bland,” “There’s no variety in American food,” “American food is so unhealthy and fattening,” and “No wonder why so many Americans are obese, the food is terrible.”
Yesterday I was in the company of 3 Spaniards having lunch at a Mexican restaurant near the Almudena Cathedral (yesterday was the holiday commemorating the Virgin Almudena, Madrid’s female Patron Saint). The restaurant was my choice because I LOVE Mexican food and don’t get it here in Spain as much as we Americans commonly eat it in the USA. I was in Mexican food heaven while the 3 Spaniards were unimpressed, unhappy, and didn’t even finish. They complained that it was too spicy and, probably, not too easily digested. Frankly, they said, they didn’t see what all the fuss was about, that Spanish food was SO much better. I can’t really agree with this totally but I do love Spanish food.
The lunch sparked a conversation from those Spaniards who’d been to the USA about how poor the food is there, how it’s boring, and that (exaggerating) “Everyone in the USA is so fat they have to get around in wheelchairs. This is because the food is so unhealthy.” I set them straight-ish but bragged that the USA is now only ranked the SECOND-most overweight country in the world (the 1st Place winning medal of dishonor we carried for many years). And plus, not everyone eats just hamburgers, hotdogs, and pizza – except maybe college kids where “The Freshman 10 (pounds)” when I went to university has now become “The Freshman 25”, the amount of weight first-year college kids gain after leaving the relatively healthy food prepared and eaten at home.
I can’t defend much the quality or taste of food in the USA. Generally speaking, I like it. But I like Spanish food so much more. I guess there is a reason why America’s first choice when dining out in the USA is at Mexican restaurants. I imagine it’s similar to the popularity of Indian food in England where, they say, the food is so bland-and-boring.
It’s a shame United Statesens don’t LOVE Spanish food as much I have grown to love it but I can’t fault them. My first visit to Spain in 1995 was exactly like their experience. I saw Spanish food as fattening, unhealthy, and disgusting-looking. Now, I often say that Spain is a food-lover’s and alcoholic’s perfect dream. The difference is Spaniards know how to self-moderate with these things but Americans generally don’t – which is evidence with the should-be-illegal popularity of the countless All-You-Can-Eat restaurants in the U.S.A. Here in Spain there are few and not at all popular because overeating – as well as drinking too much – is frowned upon.
Visiting Americans, Eat & Drink Well – but in moderation. And come with an open mind. Maybe have a big glass of wine before chewing on your first of many toenail-looking “percebes” or fat-filled slices of “salchichón“.Share THIS on Facebook!