The Foreigner Fifteen

My friend Phillip’s cousin is in town from France and I accompanied them both for an excursion to Venice Beach CA and around Los Feliz for the day. While in Venice we coined a new term that aptly identifies a phenomenon, but more on that later.

Her English isn’t great, and typically I associate a knowledge and understanding of culture with competency in  a langauge. I am expressing that she is very French: she approaches american culture with a sense of awe, amusement, and sometimes reproach.  I find it amusing to see Europeans’ reactions to American culture in real-time. At the Albertson’s in Los Feliz she stares at the pre-cut fruit section, the bags and trays and containers of neatly cut fruit and brightly colored smoothies. She remarks, “”so much plastic no?”” I simply laugh, feeling that our culture of excess is something that we cannot escape.

It reminds me of when I was “”fresh of the boat”” from living in Italy for 8 years and suddenly found myself confronted with Panda Express. I remember how quickly I went from a state of utter disgust to eating it daily at the UCLA food court.

This all brings me to the revelation that occurred on our trip to Venice that afternoon and the subsequent term that was coined. When European tourists visit the US for extended periods of time they often let their culinary guard down. They are not accustomed to what many americans, especially californians, practice; self-imposed moderation. Visitors from abroad succumb to our most aggressive ads, or largest portions and our most hydrogenated fats. Gaining, as it was identified that day, the “”foreigner fifteen””

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