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Here in Australia I would say most people would equate American food with such things as burgers (most specifically the Big Mac)and French fries (kinda funny really when they’re supposedly French by origin), fried chicken (particularly KFC), hot dogs with mustard, milkshakes, coffee and donuts.

I must say I enjoy all these things from time to time – though I’m not a big coffee drinker – the only way I like coffee is in cafe late or cappuccino form and not too strong. I only drink coffee when we’re out at a cafe or coffee lounge – and I really resent being served bitter brew. Personally I believe that, considering what big business coffee-making has become even in Australia in the past decade or two, those who are making a lot of money from it should jolly well take it seriously and ensure they’re serving coffee that even the fussiest coffee connoisseur would be satisfied with. After all, the average cup of coffee costs roughly $4 (or more) these days.

We love chicken here in Australia. I can remember when I was a kid, chicken was something you only had as a Sunday roast maybe a couple of times a year if you were lucky – and it was even regarded as exclusive Christmas fare. These days it’s common for people to eat chicken in one form or another several times a week – and it’s just so convenient to pick up a barbecue chicken from the supermarket. But I have to say that nothing really compares with Kentucky Fried chicken – that delicious crunchy coating with the unique combination of spices – which is even yummier when you have the leftovers next day. It’s great value too – much better value than a McDonalds meal, which can work out awfully expensive for a family these days. When you get a family meal at KFC you get a great feast of chicken and all the extras to go with it. Their mashed potato and gravy is yummo too – while their coleslaw is about as good as you can get commercially. KFC was actually the first of the American fast food chains that I remember coming to a nearby town in Tasmania, where I grew up. We would only have it occasionally and my mother just loved it. We still have it in memory of her on occasions like her birthday or the anniversary of her death.

I also have to say that there are no donuts as good as the ones I remember from the agricultural shows (equivalent of American county fairs) when I was growing up. They used to advertise them as “hot American donuts” and call people to come and watch them being made. They were the type that actually have a hole in the middle (not all donuts do), were coated in cinnamon sugar and were SO soft and squishy and decadent – they would just melt in your mouth. Mmmmm! I have had them at shows in recent years – but this year I was so disappointed when my husband bought some donuts as we left the show hurriedly in a downpour – and they were disgusting – tough and tasteless – not at all like they should have been.

In recent years the Krispy Kremes donut chain has come to Australia and whenever people from our city flew to Sydney they would bring back a box or two of these culinary delights. Now we have our own outlet here in Canberra though and last year when my daughter spent 10 weeks in hospital we went through a few boxes because the newly-opened business was nearby. I have to say that the plain glazed donuts are absolutely sumptuous – I actually far prefer them to the fancy iced ones.

Americans may be surprised to know that some of their traditional fare isn’t common here in Australia and indeed we would not have even tasted some things you would take for granted that everybody would be familiar with. I would just love to try Fried Green tomatoes – and pumpkin pie is a treat many Aussies would never have tasted. Pumpkin is something we mainly eat as a vegetable – roasted, steamed or boiled – and in soup. I have tasted pumpkin pie made by an expatriate American and it really was delightful.

Bagels aren’t such common fare here as they are in America either. I wouldn’t remember when I last had a bagel (though the genuine thing is certainly very nice – I say genuine because sometimes so-called bagels are just glorified bread rolls). When we do have them they are just plain and filled with maybe sliced meat and salad or other fillings. We don’t have them in all kinds of flavours as Americans seem to – and they are certainly not common breakfast fare here as they apparently are in America.

We do love beef steak here in Australia – but we don’t often have enormous steaks like Americans do – except at some cafes or restaurants that are known for serving up massive offerings which take up a whole dinner plate. Few of us would have ever tasted buffalo steaks either.

I have an American e-pal who describes in detail all the elements of special meals on festive occasions – and sends photos of the great feasts. I must say I always wish I could be there. If there’s one thing Americans know how to do it’s eat comfort food. Australians are very experienced at it too. There’s nothing wrong with that so long as we don’t get too carried away too often. Right now it’s nearly evening here in Australia and I haven’t had much to eat since breakfast (which being Saturday was actually “brunch”) – so I’d be very happy to have anything from the menu outlined above!

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