Eating and cooking habits of the US

(VOVworld) – In 1948, McDonald’s opened its first restaurant in California and has been spreading the trend of eating fast food in the US ever since. Its success inspired many other fast food chains to be open such as KFC, Burger King, Subway, Taco Bell and many others. A research by suggests that at least 1 in 4 people in the US eat some type of fast food every day and cooking at home is dying. Is it true? Do American really prefer packed than fresh food? Today VOV’s reporter Dieu Ha will talk to Charles Jensen, an English teacher from the US, to learn more about this. 

Q: Hello Charles, it’s great to have you again on our show. The US is so famous for being the birthplace of huge, global-scale fast food chains such as the KFC, Burger King, McDonald’s – some of which have opened restaurants in Vietnam. Is that true that American people is obsessed with fast food?

A: Yeah, but I think not everyone eats fast food all the time and I even think that the KFC here in Vietnam tastes better than the KFC in the US. Here, KFC is a nice restaurant but in the US, eating in KFC is like eating street food in Vietnam. You just stop real quickly and eat. There is a misconception that every people in the US eat fast food but that’s not true. A lot of people cook for themselves and their own family. There is also a push for high-quality fast food, which is getting more and more popular. People are willing to pay a little bit more for better-quality and safer fast food. KFC and McDonald’s are not good for you.

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The US is home of the KFC, Dunkin’ Donuts , Carl’s Jr., and many other world-famous fastfood chains. (Photo: Shuttercock)

Q: But fast food restaurants are every where?

A: Oh yes, every corner. Every corner has fast food restaurants. Some of them add new dishes to their menu. That shows you the power of consumers. If the consumers don’t like something, fast-food chains will replace it. For example, McDonald’s add salad into their menu to try to compete with other places that are healthier.

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Signs of fastfood restaurants are seen along a busy street in Los Angeles, US. (Photo: Reuters)
Q: What do you think is the most popular food US people order in fast-food restaurants?

A: Beef, I would say. A lot of people order beef. Pork and chicken are less popular. It’s different in Vietnam where people can eat any type of meat. But I think it’s cool since you guys make use of everything. You guys do a really good job and eat the whole animal. That’s better for the environment.

Q: Does that mean home-cooking is dying?

A: I would say some people cook and some are even really into cooking, especially now that you have so many cooking shows. Cooking is getting popular again. And it’s cheaper to cook for yourself than to go out, even if it’s fast food, I argue. We usually buy food and ingredients from supermarkets but there are also like traditional farmers’ markets in the US, which are getting more popular. My family used to go those. Once a week, all the farmers would go to the market and sell their home-grown stuffs, which are healthier than the industrial, large-scale farming.

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MasterChef is among many cooking TV show which, accroding to Charles, have encouraged Americans to cook at home. (Photo:

Q: What is the difference in the way Vietnamese people cook compared with that of US people?

A: Everybody in the US – well, not very body but I would say 90% US people – has oven. It’s a central part of the kitchen. It was so hard for me when I started living in Vietnam because I did not have the oven. You guys prepare everything on stove – it was a shock for me. If I prepare dinner, I would leave it in the oven for 20-30 minutes. When I come back, I can have dinner straight away. So not having an oven was huge for me.  As soon as I had enough money and got married, that was one of the first things we bought. Now we cook everything with it. It’s only a portable oven which you can unplug and move around. It’s not as good as the big one we had in the US.

Q: Is baking also popular?

A: Yes. To some people, those who bake seem really talented. Not in my case though, because all baking instructions are on the back of the box. In the US, a lot of ingredients are packed inside a box and the box will tell you all the instruction of what you need and how long to do everything so you cannot mess up. For more difficult dishes like bread, you can search for recipe on the Internet. Some people also have traditional recipe, like my parents have their own recipe for the ham they have during Christmas.

Q: In your opinion, what makes the US cuisine special?

A: This is one thing that I really about the US. You know, other countries such as European countries have famous rich culture food. We only have hotdogs and hamburgers. But the US is the country of immigrants so everybody brings their food with them. When growing up, I can eat every other countries’s food. I grew up with Vietnamese Pho, I grew up with German food, with English food, or a lot of Mexican food. There are a lot of Latino and Mexican people in California so there are also a lot of Mexican and South American food in my place.

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Mexican food like Taco is popular among many US foodies. (Photo:
Q: You have been working as an English teacher in Vietnam for a while. What kind of US food you miss the most?

A: The think I miss the most is traditional Mexican food. There are a lot of nice Mexican restaurants opening up in Hanoi but they are not the same.

Q: Why?

I don’t know. A lot of Vietnamese people followed me to the US and have Phở, like my wife, but they all say that it was not the same, even the Phở made by Vietnamese people. I think if you go to the traditional places, the food’s always better.

Thank you Charles for sharing your views on the habits of eating and cooking in the US!


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