Today is Thanksgiving and this week I discovered the special "Thanksgiving" tab on Ocado shopping. I've never been so horrified in my entire life. I was expecting turkey and fresh green beans and pumpkin puree for pies, and they did have those things. But otherwise this special section doesn't reflect very well on us Americans.
Instead of potatoes, hams and yams, Ocado has Marshmallow Fluff (I don't even know...), Stove Top brand instant stuffing, Jollytime microwave popcorn, Pop-Tarts, Froot Loops - all the traditional E numbers enjoyed by the Pilgrims and Native Americans.
Still, whenever I get high and mighty about anti-American snobbery, I'm reminded of my strolls through American supermarkets which yield a cornucopia of intriguing "food" stuffs: aisles and aisles of convenience-ised, "fun"-ed up, hydrogenated products that seem just this side of edible. Yet I have a bit of a soft spot for all this weird food. I grew up on it, or grew up desperate for my parents to buy it instead of whole wheat bread and okra. It represents the triumph of industry over common sense.
You can't get these kind of items over here (I imagine they violate Health & Safety rules) so I won't be partaking of them. But today, I give thanks for these very American foods:
* Sno-Balls - Hot pink round balls - made of cake perhaps? - and rolled in coconut. As my friend Nancy from Park Slope Parents remarked, sadly they don't taste as good as they look.
* Twinkies - A classic that's so ingrained in the American psyche that a writer wrote a book about the ingredients, even going 1,600 feet underground to see where one ingredient is mined (you read that right), which in turn inspired a photographer's Twinkie ingredient project.
* Betty Crocker spray icing - It really does what it says on the tin.
* Jimmy Dean Blueberry Pancake and Sausage on a Stick - This is not a satiric breakfast meal...but it could be! A sausage nestled in the warm embrace of a pancake sprinkled with blueberries, then the whole thing is jammed onto a stick, so you can easily eat it in the car on the way to your arteriogram.
* Eggo Real Fruit Strawberry Granola Pizza - The last time I wandered round the HEB grocery store in Austin, I was agog at the sheer number and variety of frozen waffles alone. Now I discover that Eggo, the king of frozen waffles, has expanded into sweet pizzas? It's almost too much to take in. A pizza base, topped with strawberries and, er, granola.
* Cheez Whiz, Velveeta, American cheese - Like the French, Americans love cheese...if by "cheese" you mean a kind of oil product dyed orange. Let's be honest, though, I have served dishes made with this type of cheese at innumerable dinner parties and they have even the most snooty eaters rubbing their bellies and rolling their eyes in pleasure. The trick is not to reveal the ingredients (which, with these cheese, nobody knows anyway).
* Easy Cheese - Again with the aerosol food. Easy Cheese, the convenient cheese-product-in-a-spray-can, is the ne plus ultra of American cheese inventions.It's shorthand for American junk food the way deep-fried Mars bars are shorthand for bad Scottish food. In case you're not too disturbed by the image of squirting "Cheddar" onto your cracker, there's also a Cheddar 'n Bacon flavour.
Got any interesting American foods of your own you want to share?