I HAVE never been to America. But I know everything I need to know about America because I have read DC and Marvel comics and watched a lot of television.
Certainly I have learned a lot about American food because I am a regular viewer of the Food Network, which shows hours and hours of American food programmes when it is not showing the same four episodes of Jamie Oliver’s 15 Minute Meals.
And the most American of these programmes is Diners, Drive-ins & Dives.
Diners, Drive-ins & Dives – or Triple D, as the programme is known, because they went overboard with the title and didn’t consider how often American TV presenters would have to mention the name of the programme – is presented by Guy Fieri.
Fieri is what a hairdresser would look like in a Nintendo Mario game. He has bleached blond hair, a red convertible, and a permanent outdoors voice. By rights, I should hate him. But I do not. Perhaps it is because he is engaging and appears genuinely enthusiastic about food, or perhaps it is Stockholm syndrome.
If you have never seen Triple D, I will walk you through a sample episode…
Fieri fetches up in a dusty American city. There are no pedestrians in sight. He says something along the lines of, “Right now, Triple D is in Bogbrush, Indiana. And you know what that means…” I don’t know what that means. Only people in Bogbrush, Indiana could possibly know what that means.
He goes on, “We’re in the home of the Bogbrush double dip piranha sandwich, and there’s nowhere that does it better than Carlito’s Piranha House. They’ve been doing the double dip for an amazing 23 years.” In America 23 years is roughly equivalent to 387 British years.
They then go into Carlito’s Piranha House to meet some of the regular customers. “I have a double dip piranha every day,” lies an attractive, clear-complexioned woman. If she really had a double dip piranha every day she would be on the news because they had to use a crane to get her out of her bedroom to take her to hospital. “They’re so fresh and tender.”
Tenderness is very important to Americans. They hate chewing things. This is why their teeth are so good – they never have to use them.
Fieri then goes into the kitchen to meet the chef and watch him put together a double dip piranha sandwich. This will involve a ton of sugar and salt, which will go into the “rub” so the piranha has a great “bark”, and a whole “stick” of butter. Americans have butter in sticks because they use it as a weapon.
Fieri will then shove the entire sandwich into his mouth before explaining that it is by far the best Bogbrush double dip piranha sandwich he has ever had, which is probably true, and that the flavours are “off the chart”, which is probably not.
And then off he rushes to another diner or drive-in. He has been to more of these than he has had hot dinners. I don’t know how that can be, but there we are. (He never seems to go to any dives. Or if he does, he does not refer to them as such, for diplomatic reasons.)
He is always in a hurry. It’s a wonder he does not have constant indigestion. This time he is at “the best chilli dog joint in Milwaukee”.
I should explain. Americans, like Guy Fieri, are always in a hurry, so much so that they often have one meal on top of another meal in order to save time. They put bacon on top of pancakes with maple syrup, scones and custard next to their fried chicken, and they have the chilli dog.
For those who do not know, a chilli dog is a hot dog, but instead of topping it with mustard, or perhaps onions, the Americans opt for chilli con carne, a thing that other nationalities eat on its own as a satisfying meal.
This is like going to the chip shop and ordering fish and chips, and when they ask you if you want salt and vinegar you say, “No, actually, could you chuck a couple of scoops of shepherds pie on it?”
After he goes into rhapsodies about a sausage with some mince on top of it, Guy Fieri leaps into his red convertible, cuts off proceedings abruptly, and promises he will be back next time.
And this is why I can never live in America. It’s hard to pull off that sort of exit when you travel everywhere by bus.