Journey to America, trip report number 1: American food and drink

Okay, first things first: Let’s talk about the food in America. If, as the saying goes, absence makes the heart grow fonder, then let me say that after spending just one year in the US since 2002, I have a renewed passion for American foodstuffs.

Here are a few notes and cell phone pics ((I snapped these images with my trusty Nokia E71, which I’ve blogged about before.)) of various items we consumed during our three-week visit to the US.

In retrospect, I must say that our culinary conquests seem rather…calorically dense. Beer, burgers, chocolate, cheese grits, pecan pie — and large portions of it all.

Let the games begin…

  1. High-quality beer:

    In Thailand, our beer options are restricted to a few unremarkable Thai brews and some standard imports. I’d forgotten how much high-quality beer is available in the US. Here’s but one segment of one aisle of the beer section at a Wegmans supermarket in central Pennsylvania. Amazing. ((For an in-depth look at the vibrant microbrew industry in America, check out this New Yorker story from November 2008 by Burkhard Bilger. My takeaway, among others: I’m justified in liking Budweiser! Just ask the Belgian brewmaster…))

  2. Classic burgers:

    Two snaps from one of two trips we took to Five Guys, purveyors of some of my favorite burgers in the world. Enough said. ((Related post: The best burger in Bangkok.))

  3. Hershey’s Chocolate World:

    Yes, we visited this monument to American confectionary innovation. It was…fantastic. Don’t miss the Kit Kat Cafe. Here’s a snap of the factory’s daily production of Hershey’s bars, Kisses, KitKats, and York Peppermint Patties:

  4. Side note: Portion sizes:

    I am a large man with a healthy appetite, but if American restaurants offered children’s portions to adults, I’m quite certain they’d be enough for me to subsist on — and have some left over to take home. I’m not sure that I finished a single restaurant entree portion that I ordered during the entire three weeks.

    Check out the size of this soup-and-salad lunch combo from the otherwise reasonable Panera Bread:

    Or this cobb salad, which I ordered at a restaurant in PA:

    Wow.

  5. Indian food:

    I was treated to some top-notch Indian food, thanks to the incredible Mrs. S. Here’s a memorable home-cooked breakfast of samosas, an aloo gobi-like dish, and dahl puri:

    And here’s Mrs. S at work in the kitchen:

  6. Southern food:

    We ate some incredible food in my latter-day hometown of Beaufort, South Carolina. Namely, my Aunt Cece’s ((Hugs and kisses to you, Aunt Cece! I’ll do my best to replicate your recipe…)) pecan pie, which I’ve mentioned before:

    We also did some Southern cooking of our own at home. Here’s an unabashedly artery-clogging breakfast we whipped up one day: sausages with gravy, cheese grits, fried eggs, and toast. Believe it!

    Up next: a Newley.com exclusive video of a visit to Duke’s BBQ in Beaufort, SC, an establishment my brother C has raved about before. Stay tuned…

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Hi. I'm Newley Purnell. I cover technology and business for The Wall Street Journal. I use this site to share my stories and often blog about the books I'm reading, tech trends, sports, travel, and our dog Ginger. For updates, get my weekly email newsletter.

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  1. Newls:

    I’m clearly late to the game–and this discussion–but nonetheless I may I present to you the Angus THIRD POUNDER, from McDonalds, of course.

    http://www1.mcdonalds.com/angus/

    Yesterday’s breakfast was limited to a couple harried cups of coffee, and lunch simply never showed; so come 4 o’clock, I was famished. Thankfully there was a whopping 0ne-third pound of ground Angus beef (and cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo, mustard, extra soft bun, and pickle chips) with my name on. It was massive, especially next to the 6 oz paper cup I was given for tap water. America’s ooc portion size is never more apparent then beneath the golden arches. PS: It hit the spot and was VERY tasty.

    Bummed to have missed you on this last trip home, but pleased to see you had fun and were well fed. All the best to you & A. Talk soon. Cheers, MAW

  2. Aaaaaaaaargh, Newley! Thing is… I not only miss Penang food in Hong Kong but also American delectables like… microbrews (North Coast Old Rasputin Imperial Stout and Flying Fish XPA top my list), hoagies (Italian, especially), cheesesteaks, nachos with just cheese whiz on them (yes, really!) and salty butter popcorn. :S