True American experience for international visitors? How about White Castle…
This blurb on Brandfreak about endearing images of Twinkies in popular media reminded me of past attempts to showcase our culture to international visitors. For David from Paris, we spent the week trying to find the perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie. We tried Potbelly’s (sidenote–best day ever was being at Potbelly’s at closing–they give away any leftover baked goods!), a co-worker swore hers were best, and finally bought the ingredients so that he could learn to bake them and bring the treat back home.
For Fabio, above, who was on an exchange via Partners of the Americas to learn about the Chicago Latino International Film Festival, we spontaneously popped into White Castle for a ‘slider,’ in between the ‘important meetings’ to learn about US Culture. “Imagine it’s 3 am, and your eating 20 of these, not just one,” I guided, reminiscing high school and college days.
It reminds me of a very endearing exchange between Jon Stewart and then-President Musharraf of Pakistan, where Steward welcomed him to the show by serving tea and Twinkies. I loved, too, Stewart’s modeling of language, to convey his intent (regarding the tea) just in case he accidentally offended.
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Pervez Musharraf Pt. 1|
What do/would you show your international/cross cultural visitors? Can you name three things that are typically “American?”
What a great question! Personally, I’d share Thanksgiving and the tradition of giving thanks, I’d share trips to various communities to show the smallness within the largeness of the country. I’d want them to attend a general assembly of our government state or federal and learn of it and I’d want to take them to meet our military in the airports who are traveling to their appointed destinations carrying memories of home and not rifles as they go to support their commander in chief’s directives.
Kim, I am smiling, out of respect for the depth at which your suggestions would show ‘American character,’ compared to my, um, do you want to try our fat or chemical laden food first? Thanks so much for sharing this.
I’m all about the burgers (as long as beef is okay, culturally) – except I’d go with In-N-Out in California before anything else. One thing I do try to show intercultural visitors is the cultural/ethnic diversity of our country, which is pretty easy to do if you can stroll around an urban setting. I also try to show off America’s natural beauty (Yosemite in California, Shenandoah here in DC), since I think the way Americans have room to stretch out into the wilderness is a pretty key cause of whatever “national culture” we may share.
So, junk food, all types of people, and wilderness.
(Actually, I really hate the idea that American food = junk food. American food is developed from the food of other cultures, but it’s its own cuisine. Again, to go back to California, fusion cuisine is huge out there – and it’s unlike anything you’ll get elsewhere in the world. And, of course, there’s BBQ… But, yeah, I’d still show a visitor some tasty burgers, ’cause they’re great eating too.)