We’re a tough bunch to impress, but most Brits secretly admire the burger-munching nation across the Atlantic. Here’s what we like best.
1. The portion sizes
From skyscraper sandwiches to piles of fries that could feed a third world village for a month, America is the land of massive grub. We, meanwhile, grew up on flaccid chips, grey peas and Greggs rolls filled with luminous margarine and a single layer of transparent ham. So we can’t help but get excited when we see big food.
2. The service
Every Brit knows that for truly spectacular service without a sneer, you need to head to America. I’ve had restaurant managers comp me lunch just because I asked whether their freshly squeezed orange juice was the real deal and they admitted it wasn’t. No grievance is too petty.
3. Friendly folk
Getting smiled at as you walk down a U.S. street is unnerving until you learn that the Americans doing the grinning mean no harm. Strangers may even be genuinely pleased to see you.
4. Salty-sweet food
From chocolate covered pretzels to bacon and pancakes drenched with maple syrup, Americans’ adore savory and sweet in the same mouthful. Sadly, British cuisine tends not to mix the two, despite the fact that most of us love the combo. I do, however, draw the line at sweet potato fries dusted with salt and icing sugar.
5. No royal family
Brits may not envy U.S.-style politics but some of us appreciate the fact Americans don’t pay to keep a clan of toffs in pearls and palaces. They do, however, lose points for loving our lot.
6. Bigger homes
Unless you live in a pricey, overcrowded city like New York, your stateside home will probably make your old British pad seem like a doll’s house. Walk-in closets, fridges the size of barns and gargantuan gardens are the norm in America.
7. TV and film
On screen, the U.S. still outshines the rest of us. Whether it’s blockbusters, indie flicks, cultish dramas or pithy sitcoms, America does it bigger and better.
8. Toilet seat covers
When I first pulled one of these out of a wall mounted dispenser (Chicago airport, 1996) I considered the possibility that this shiny tracing paper with a gaping big hole in the middle was badly engineered piece of loo roll. Several seconds later, I figured it out and I’ve never looked back.
Wherever you are in the States — from gastronomically challenged backwaters to sophisticated cities — the staple spots for breakfast, lunch and dinner are cute diners serving generic but delicious pancake stacks and Caesar salads.
10. The opening hours
We’re getting better at staying open for longer in Britain but we’ve got nothing on our U.S. friends. In America, it’s unthinkable that you wouldn’t be able to order a pizza or find an open drugstore at four in the morning.
What were you pleasantly surprised about when making your way stateside?