American Eating Culture

A productive exchange with a fellow blogger always makes me happy. Here is what blogger Steve responded to my recent post about the differences between English and Russian writing styles:

And as Clarissa gave examples of Russian writers who wrote in a clear and direct style. And the same could be found in Afrikaans in the writing of people like Beyers Naude (a dissident Afrikaner theologian), who could turn Afrikaans from the clumsy and ponderous tool of bureaucratic oppression into something light, clear, and beautiful to read.

But while oppressive bureaucracy may account for some of the differences in style, I don’t think it accounts for all. Perhaps English has also been affected (or infected) by the urban fast-food culture, with people eating on the trot.

I think that the fast-food culture definitely is one of the factors that contributed to the creation of the eating on the run and enjoying a meal with friends while standing and walking around at a party.

However, I believe there are also other reasons why this eating culture arose. One of these reasons is the belief that resting is somehow too indulgent or even sinful and one needs to be constantly on the move. Parties turn into opportunities to network instead of offering an occasion to relax. I have a terror of networking as a practice not only because of my autism but also because I always feel embarrassed when I observe these naked attempts to exploit festive occasions to meet the right people.

The very concept of “fast food” that is eaten out of a brown bag or a plastic box is very strange to me. I work a lot and always have but I don’t understand how it is possible routinely not to have time to sit down for a nice and leisurely meal served on beautiful crockery and arranged and decorated prettily. If you don’t have time for things like these, then what do you have time for?

12 thoughts on “American Eating Culture

  1. Amanda wrote well about the topic in the posts I linked to this week, I read all the comments at Pandagon and heard among other things of the frequent situation of working long hours far away from home, so 5 days a week people have to dine (wiki: “Dinner is usually the name of the main meal of the day”) at work. The choices are OR a plastic box from home (possibly at one’s desk, which people reported leads to work requests during their break too) OR going outside with this plastic box OR buying food, when in many cases the only close &/or not too costy option is fast-food. People also complained of: working long hours and being tired to cook after work, wanting to use scarce free time for other things, picky husband/children who’ll eat fast food silently and whine at home meal, disliking cooking, etc.


  2. The beautiful crockery is not necessary for me, but as my food blog bears testament, I cooked regularly even during my post-grad in the US, while juggling classes, homework, a TAship, an RAship for a semester, being an ESL tutor, being in the student’s association for a year, and commuting to the uni from three towns away.

    I suppose it stems from a sense of priorities when allotting time for various things. One of my house-mates almost never cooked, and when she did she boiled pasta and poured ready-made sauce on it mostly, but she went out running and to the gym with clockwork regularity. I’ve never ever been to the gym regularly in my life save for five months of my first New England winter, when working out felt wonderful. But I cooked almost every other day.


          1. Yes, I agree and then people like to compete in a weird way as to demonstrate how little free time they have. It’s a way for people to feel superior towards others by dismissing them.

            Ever read about sleep deprivation and all of the health issues and difficulties that arise from that? And what’s the root problem? Very few people’s sleep problems arise from an actual physical ailment. No. The problem of lack of sleep comes from “life is too short” to sleep. Does this stem from a healthy work ethic? No, I don’t think so.

            If you have any free time people judge that and you as a lay about.


            1. ” Very few people’s sleep problems arise from an actual physical ailment. No. The problem of lack of sleep comes from “life is too short” to sleep. ”

              -Exactly. Also, the difficulties of falling asleep are cause by the fear of starting a new day that will not bring much enjoyment and will only give you more grinding work.


  3. Time to sit down and eat the meal? I could make.

    An end-of-the-day nervous system that allows me to stand and walk at will in order to make said meal? Decidedly less reliable. 😛


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