As I’m now flying back home it’s time to recap my culinary experiences since my last post. Again the following aren’t in order of anything:
- Dunkin’ Donuts: Meal: Dinner (yeah I know keep that to yourself), Food: Chocolate Glazed, Maple Iced, Boston Creme, Mint Cookie and “GO TEXANS” special; My blood sugar was bottoming out and I needed sugar and since it was nearby I thought what the heck. Anyhow I actually found most of them to be quite dry. I liked the Maple, Boston Creme and Mint Cookie ones, but the others were quite forgettable.
- Aunty Mays: Meal: Snack, Food: Pretzel Dog; Grabbed this on a lark on the way to the gate to try it. Honestly thought it was pretty good though the “pretzel” was a bit doughy but then I suppose that’s intentional and/or inevitable.
- Popeyes: Meal: Lunch; Drink: Diet Coke, Food: Chicken Sandwich with Chips; Firstly I was really impressed by the chips, nice batter, crispy and yummy. The Burger was originally offered a few months ago and was considered by some food critics (yeah, actual food critics) to be better than Chick-Fil-A but as it was a “Limited Time” offer at that point, Popeyes withdrew it from sale, only to return it to their menu co-incidentally a week before I came to the USA. Hence I was advised to get one this time around, noting that someone had been stabbed in line waiting for one only a few days prior. Hmm, well the one I had was very nice for sure though nothing I’d stab anyone for and I still think the Chick-Fil-A Chicken Sandwich was nicer overall. That said, it’s probably a second ahead of KFC.
- Denny’s: Meal: Breakfast, Drink: Coffee, Food: The Grand Slamwich; Coffee was also surprisingly good given what it was, like IHOP before it just don’t add anything to the coffee and drink it black. The Slamwich was actually really nice but I had no idea what to make of the shredded style Hash Brown. The potato seemed undercooked and I suppose falling apart is supposed to be a feature but it wasn’t one I wanted.
- Cinnabon: Meal: Lunch, Food: Cinnamon Sticks and Classic Scroll; I found the sticks to be a bit average without the dipping cream/whip but the scroll was off the charts! I knew that Cinnabon were intending to open their first Australian stores in the next few months however they were next to me in the food court at the time so I had it anyway.
- Waffle House: Meal: Breakfast, Food: Original Waffle with a side of bacon; I was stunned how good the bacon was, but to be honest the Waffle was a bit tasteless, no matter how much whipped butter or syrup I added.
- Starbucks: Truth be told I drank the same drink multiple times during the week: Venti Latte with an extra shot. Despite what I’d heard, Starbucks in the USA wasn’t that different from Australia. And whilst I normally have my Venti’s with an extra shot I had to repeat that request almost every time to each barista - apparently that’s an odd request over here.
- McDonalds: Drink: Coffee; Having compared Starbucks coffee to Australia it wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t also compare McDonalds coffee as well. Unfortunately the USA version of McDonalds coffee was pretty bad compared to home. About 9 months ago at home McDonalds introduced their “New Blend” which was less over-roasted than their usual blend to that point and I’ve come to not mind it in a pinch whereas previously I’d only drink it if I was truly desperate. This tasted much like the over-roasted kind they used to sell back home, but it wasn’t that pleasant. The other item of note though: I asked for a large and OMG was it comically huge! It was at least 30% bigger than the same “large” in Australia. I wasn’t prepared for that and therefore couldn’t finish it - there was just too much.
- Mozarts Coffee (Austin): Meal: Dinner, Drink: Regular Latte, Food: Snickerdoodle Cookie; Okay I made the side trek to Austin to go to the IndieWeb meetup and meet Manton Reece of whom I’ve been a fan for years. Whilst there I had what was actually the only really nice quality coffee I had in the USA. That said, I never tracked down any specialty roasters in Houston and just tripped into Starbucks almost every time, which was easy since they were EVERYWHERE! Anyhow the cookie was a bit dry and crumbly but was quite tasty.
To reiterate the following notes once again:
- I am not a food critic
- Repeat: Not a food critic
- Your taste bud mileage will definitely vary and all tastes are very different
- There are many other options on menus but I can’t try them all in a week
In summary I’m really glad I tried this fast food. I almost sensed a bit of bewilderment from some of my friends. I got the feeling they thought I should be eating “better” options rather than the most popular Fast Food chains. Some suggested restaurants with award winning dishes and their personal niche chains for example.
I considered their suggestions seriously and decided the way to think about it was this…
The Fast Food chains I tried are a mixture of good marketing, good pricing, good food and overall popularity amongst a significant number of Americans. If I truly want to have the most representative American food experience then I should start with those restaurants and fast food outlets that the majority of Americans prefer. If they didn’t prefer them, they wouldn’t have succeeded in their business. Hence most of my choices.
Both of our countries have brought different culinary options to the table and the world is a better place for it. I’m grateful for the advice from my friends and family on what to try, and I regret nothing that I tried this trip. It was fun but I’m ready to get back eating healthier meals again now. My body is quite frankly done with junk food for a few weeks. (At least)
I look forward to returning to the USA again next year to sample some more.
Thank you America :)
(…until next time…)