10 American Foods Brits Will Learn to Love

Just add crispy strips of bacon for a salty/sweet/spongey delight. (AP Photo/Wichita Falls Times Record News, Torin Halsey)

If you’re planning on a food-induced early death then you’ve relocated to the right country. With so many irresistible edibles on offer, you may need to request two plane seats on your next flight home.

Grits
Just the name is enough to put most foreigners off, but this southern maize porridge — usually served at breakfast — is superb when cooked properly. Depending on who you ask, this might mean adding a heart attack’s worth of butter, and possibly cheese.

Buttery popcorn
Have you noticed the giant liquid soap dispensers that spew toxic looking yellow fluid onto cinema patrons’ salty popcorn? That would be butter, which the foamy snack soaks up like a sponge. Looks vile but tastes brilliant.

Chicken and waffles
Here’s another dish from the Deep South, which sounds uninspired but is, in fact, dreamy. What shocked me on first sampling were the waffles. This being a fried chicken dish, I expected the accompanying carbohydrate to be savory — possibly a delicious spin on the classic Birdseye potato waffle. But they were sweet! And they were served with maple syrup, and whipped cream! Americans see no problem with combining sugar and salt, and they’re definitely onto something.

Pumpkin flavored drinks
Gourd-infused beverages — coffee and ale mostly — start appearing on bar and café menus this time of year, then disappear after Christmas. They sound appalling, but I promise you they’re not. Done right, there’s just a hint of earthy caramelized pumpkin. No one’s going to ask you to dunk a squash wedge in your morning java, I promise. Not convinced? Try this great pumpkin spice latte recipe.

Salads that are basically candy
My friends from the Midwest assure me that it’s the birthplace of both the Snickerdoodle salad (chopped up Snickers bars served with apple, whipped cream and various pudding mixes) and the jello salad (jelly set with fruit, topped with whipped cream). Preferably, these should be enjoyed alongside your main meal. They’re the sort of decadent dishes eight-year-olds would invent if they controlled the kitchen. Just fantastic

Pancakes and bacon with maple syrup
Another example of Americans mixing up salt and sugar to great effect. But be warned; it’s a slippery — syrupy — slope. Next you’ll be wanting to sample swine infused ice cream and cocktails made with maple smoked bacon whiskey.

Buffalo wings
If possible, you should eat these with (and by that I mean “in the company of”) small children. Simply because it’s fun trying to convince them that buffalo have wings. Of course, this dish is actually just spicy fried chicken parts, served with celery sticks and a blue cheese dip. Very possibly you’ll have eaten a so-so version in the UK, but check Yelp for your best neighborhood wing joint and I guarantee they’ll be in a different league.

Corn dogs
Take a hotdog, drench in cornmeal batter and deep fry until golden. Serve on a stick. It’s like a warm, meaty lollypop — the ultimate American street food.

BBQ
Comparing American barbeque to our sad British version (sloppy ribs out of a packet from Morrisons) is like weighing Italian food against a jar of supermarket Ragu sauce. In the U.S., grilling is the way serious meat eaters cook their fare. But depending on where you are, the rules change. Cooks in some states like to rub their brisket and ribs with a dry spicy mix, while others baste their slabs of pig and cow for hours, giving them a thick, sweet and sticky crust. You’ll fall in carnivorous love with all of it. And you’ll know you’ve integrated when you spend hours fighting about which corner of which state does it best.

Mexican food
OK, I know this is a cheat, but remember those loathsome theme restaurants in big British cities where sombreros hang from the ceiling and crude cactus stencils prettify the walls? If you’re lucky enough to have relocated to a part of the U.S., like California or Texas, where many Mexicans live and cook their own cuisine, you’ll love getting to know the real deal — from fat, oozy burritos to lime-splashed tacos.

What have been your other fabulous food finds in America?

Ruth Margolis

Ruth Margolis

Ruth is a British freelance journalist who recently swapped east London for Brooklyn. She writes about TV for Radio Times and is working on her first novel.

See more posts by Ruth Margolis