Thursday, May 2, 2013

Fast Food? Not So Fast...

Sure, New York is the city that never sleeps, but even during the day, there is always an extra spring in everyone's step as they feverishly scurry from place to place. I'm a faced-pace gal, so I appreciated this sense of urgency, but when it comes to a vacation, a more relaxed pace is definitely ideal. London may be just as hip and happenin' of a city as New York, but the pace of life is much more relaxed and leisurely than in the Big Apple, and this ease is easily visible in the food culture.

Take “fast food” chains. The idea of fast food in America is generally grab-and-go. Whether it be eating and walking or eating and driving, fast food is not thought of as a sit-down, fine dining experience. Londonites; however, may not agree. Now, I know that McDonald's in Europe and McDonald's in America are fundamentally different-- some Europeans see it as a place to bring the kids for a nice night out-- but I had never really experienced the difference in fast food culture. I passed a few different Pizza Huts in London and couldn't help but peek in after seeing the signs labeled “All you can eat salad bar with every purchase.” It turns out, they were sit-down restaurants with menus and waiters, as opposed to the whole walk up to the counter, order, get your order, and sit back down routine that is commonly exercised in American Pizza Huts. Even Subway looked slightly different with many more chairs and tables than you see in most Subway restaurants in New York. It was not uncommon to see people dining in these chains just as they would a higher-end restaurant... in fact, it was extremely uncommon to see people eating on the streets of London... nothing like the way we picture fast food in America.

Even the restaurant experience, itself, was fundamentally different. First of all, the slower pace of of life is vividly clear in restaurant culture. It took forever to get menus any time we went to a sit down restaurant, the drinks came a good fifteen minutes after you ordered them, and they certainly did not rush between courses. The whole “customer is king” model that we try to exercise in America is not present in London. Maybe this is why Londoners scoff at us Americans and our fast-paced lifestyle, because their meals are so much more leisurely and relaxed. Perhaps if we focused more on the meal, and dedicated more time to each one, we would be a less obese nation. It's a proven fact that the faster you eat, the more you eat, so if we slowed things down, maybe we'd trim some fat off as a result.

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