Portions - American Style


Spade
#1
This is not an anti American rant. I visit the States often. I eat in their restaurants. I like their food - French fries, tacos, grits (but not necessarily at the same time). Now, here's my problem. The portions I am served could feed a Prairie-threshing gang. When I look around, it is the same regardless of the order. It is impossible to eat without the Roman-orgy technique. So, this is what I'd like to know.

1. Why?
2. If you are an American, why is this amount an expectation?
3. If you are a Canadian, how do you cope?
4. Does this emphasis on excess bother you?
 
Spade
#2
Some Background:
Obesity - Chefs/' Opinions of Restaurant Portion Sizes[ast]
 
Tyr
#3
Quote: Originally Posted by Spade View Post

This is not an anti American rant. I visit the States often. I eat in their restaurants. I like their food - French fries, tacos, grits (but not necessarily at the same time). Now, here's my problem. The portions I am served could feed a Prairie-threshing gang. When I look around, it is the same regardless of the order. It is impossible to eat without the Roman-orgy technique. So, this is what I'd like to know.

1. Why?
2. If you are an American, why is this amount an expectation?
3. If you are a Canadian, how do you cope?
4. Does this emphasis on excess bother you?

You're a much braver soul than I Spade. "Grits" are something that is best left for sloppin' pigs

If you have ever been to a chain of restaurants in the Southeastern states called "Big Bob's", you have truely seen monumental portions of artery clogging, gut wrenching slop of unheard of proportions. It caters to the early morning trucking crowd and the typical "breakfast" consists of re-fried chicken (yesterdays reconstituion), grits, collards, a piece of undeterrminate "meat" and biscuits. All smothered in ham gravy and served on a 2' platter.

Canadians (that I have seen) in Georgia, blanch, gulp a few times and tentively take a spoonful of the mush before settling on coffee, eggs and toast and planning how to get out of there.

The vast majority of patrons easily tip the scales at 300lbs+ (no easy feat for those under 5'6")

There is a reason why the US has the worlds worst obesity problem
 
Tyr
#4
 
lone wolf
#5
Contrary to traveller belief, truck stop means easy access to a big parking lot....
 
Spade
#6
The geographical spread of obesity reported by CDC:
State-Specific Prevalence of Obesity Among Adults --- United States, 2007
 
Spade
#7
http://steinhardt.nyu.edu/nutrition....ung-nestle.pdf
 
VanIsle
#8
Quote: Originally Posted by Spade View Post

This is not an anti American rant. I visit the States often. I eat in their restaurants. I like their food - French fries, tacos, grits (but not necessarily at the same time). Now, here's my problem. The portions I am served could feed a Prairie-threshing gang. When I look around, it is the same regardless of the order. It is impossible to eat without the Roman-orgy technique. So, this is what I'd like to know.

1. Why?
2. If you are an American, why is this amount an expectation?
3. If you are a Canadian, how do you cope?
4. Does this emphasis on excess bother you?

Why do you think that happens only in the USA? While my husbandand myself were having lunch out the other day, I was thinking at the time that a person should be given the option of something akin to man size and woman size. I am always given what looks like a ton of food on my plate and it is so easy to continue to pick at what is on your plate long after you are "full". I have come to the conclusion that the best I can do for myself is to mess the plate up in someway like putting my used napkin over it so I won't eat more and setting the plate to the edge of the table so the server will take the excess food out of my view and any temptation to eat more. I think all of us know we eat beyond "full" and that's the killer. In our own Fish & Chip shop, we served a very large portion of halibut & fries with salad or True Cod and the same trimmings. Customers constantly complained about the vast amount of homecut fries we served (we cut all our own - no frozen) and I constantly asked my husband and son to cut back but for whatever reason, neither of them seemed to be able to do that. Both felt that plate had to be stacked a mile high and we threw out a lot of fries because there was just too many on the plate. Most restaurants have male cooks and they fill a man sized plate. I know that females can do that too but I truly believe we are conditioned to fill a plate up for the "man" and all plates get the same amount. So I go back to my original thought- man size and woman size. Maybe as a nation that would help with obesity. Have any of you watched "The Greatest Loser"? I never had until about a week ago. It's very interesting. By the size of the people on there I assume you have to be that size to get there. It is a USA based show and maybe they only take Americans. I assume you would have to be at least 100 pounds overweight to be there. I would like to go because they lose what I need to lose in just the first two weeks. They actually stay there for months.
 
#juan
#9
In 2004 we were on the way back from the air show in Oshkosh Wisconsin when we stopped for breakfast at what looked like a pretty ordinary restaurant in Montana. We were late stopping for breakfast and I was hungry. I ordered steak and eggs. The steak was good but my God, it was hanging over three sides of the plate. There were three eggs, hash browns, and three slices of toast. I ate most of the steak and the eggs but it eventually became obvious that I would be in pain if I had another bite. I wonder if that place is still in business.
 
dj03
#10
We had an auditor come up from our Houston office and at lunch he commented that one of the things he likes about Canada is that you get reasonable portions at restaurants. He said you can't possibly finish the food you get down south.

I'm off to Houston for a few days tomorrow...maybe I should start the low dose aspirin now.
 
#juan
#11
This is the place...

Chico Hot Springs Lodge
Pray, Montana (406) 333-4933

Chico Hot Springs is clearly a study in contradictions. It boasts a resident ghost as well as the most extensive wine list in Montana. It's miles from nowhere (somewhere south of Livingston and north of Yellowstone), yet it always draws a crowd. Tomatoes can't grow here, yet the restaurant raises its own herbs and most of its own vegetables. These and many other anomalies give this elegant yet laid back western spa a diehard local following. Set on 150 hot-spring-laden acres in the foothills of the Absaroka Mountains, the lodge serves superb steaks, including a classic New York strip ($20.95 and $23.95), a mixed-grill platter of free-range game and fish (market price), and beef Wellington for two ($46.95). Their signature dish, says general manager Colin Davis, is a 20-ounce beef porterhouse ($26.95). The menu is meat-and-potatoes says Davis,"because that's the way the locals want it."
 
lone wolf
#12
What are the prices in these grandly-portioned places? Brunet's is a truck-stop halfway between North Bay and Sudbury that serves a great meal. No grease-laden plates of yuck these. For your money, you get a "man-sized" portion mostly from the Mennonite owner's local farm - at better than McDonald prices. Fortunately, they're generous with the doggie bags too....
 
Cannuck
#13
Quote: Originally Posted by Islandpacific View Post

Why do you think that happens only in the USA? ...

He doesn't. Contrary to the initial post, this is just another anti-American thread. There are more all-you-can-eat buffets in most Canadian cities than anyone would care to count. Gluttony is a North American phenomenon.
 
VanIsle
#14
Quote: Originally Posted by Cannuck View Post

He doesn't. Contrary to the initial post, this is just another anti-American thread. There are more all-you-can-eat buffets in most Canadian cities than anyone would care to count. Gluttony is a North American phenomenon.

Sorry - I have to disagree with you. Spade is not anti anybody (except for maybe the PM) and I never read a single response from anyone else that was anti-american. Really it's almost the other way around. How can you be anti-american when you are simply stating that they are over generous with the amount of food they put on your plate? When you go to any "all you can eat place" anywhere, it's you who puts the food on the plate - not the restaurant. The best we should hope for is that restaurant owners everywhere cut back on their servings and the easiest way of doing that is to have a large or small serving so we can all gauge ourselves. Less food in the trash, less waste/waist, and better profits in the end for the restaurant as long as they watch the difference in what they charge to make it worthwhile to buy the size you want. If for example, they charge only a $1.00 difference, most people will just buy the regular size but even $2.00 is a good start.
 
Spade
#15
Quote: Originally Posted by Cannuck View Post

He doesn't. Contrary to the initial post, this is just another anti-American thread. There are more all-you-can-eat buffets in most Canadian cities than anyone would care to count. Gluttony is a North American phenomenon.

I am not referring to all-you-can-eat buffets. I am referring to restaurant portions. I will not comment on why you are not aware of the difference.
PS
Thanks Islandpacific
Last edited by Spade; Feb 7th, 2009 at 10:25 PM..
 
SirJosephPorter
#16
Food is cheap in USA. That can be a blessing in disguise. Because things like potato are very cheap, it doesn’t cost much to heap the plate high with French fries (you won’t see any restaurant heaping the plate high with salad vegetables).

Same with meat, it is relatively cheap in USA (compared to other countries), so people tend to overeat. I remember seeing on food channel a few months ago they were talking about a diner. The steak size there is huge, may be 40 oz or more, I don’t remember. But if you can eat the whole steak, it is free. The proprietor said that in his memory only two or three people have been able to win the free steak.

In Europe, portions tend to be much smaller since food is expensive there. But the flip side is that prevalence of obesity is a lot less in Europe compared to USA.

Similarly with gas. Gas is very cheap in USA, so people tend to drive big gas guzzlers and pollute the atmosphere mightily. In Europe, gas is much more expensive than USA (mainly because European governments take much more in gas taxes). But the flip side is that cars tend to be smaller, people tend to car pool more and as a result pollute a lot less.

So I don’t think it is anything in American psyche that causes them to eat huge portions, I think food is just cheaper over there.
 
Cannuck
#17
Quote: Originally Posted by Spade View Post

I will not comment on why you are not aware of the difference.

I'm aware of the difference. The difference is not important. The issue is gluttony and a glutton is a glutton whether he chooses a buffet or orders something off the menu that is of ridiculous portion. The All-you can-eat buffet is a symptom of this problem. I will not comment on why you are not aware of this.
 
Spade
#18
Quote: Originally Posted by Cannuck View Post

I'm aware of the difference.

Thank you for admitting you were wrong.
 
Cannuck
#19
Quote: Originally Posted by SirJosephPorter View Post

(you won’t see any restaurant heaping the plate high with salad vegetables).

You obviously haven't seen some of Wendy's salads. Also many restaurant buffet or not have salad bars some one could go and fill up on veggies if they so chose.
 
Spade
#20
More on portion size, this time from USA Today.

Survey: Restaurants dishing out extra-large portions - USATODAY.com
 
YukonJack
#21
Hi, Spade!

I know that by and large and your disclaimer that your post was not meant to be an anti-American rant was real, honest and heartfelt.

However, almost the very next post, (#3), turned it into exactly that.

'"Grits" are something that is best left for sloppin' pigs', implying that since Americans like GRITS they are 'slopping pigs". Canadians like oat-meal cereal. Now, oats are the favourite food of horses. Are, Canadians, therefore, slopping horses?

I am not going to bother to quote the rest of post #3. Its poster clerly has a complex of either inferiority or superiority. You take your pick.

As for the rest of your post:

"1. Why?
2. If you are an American, why is this amount an expectation?
3. If you are a Canadian, how do you cope?
4. Does this emphasis on excess bother you? "

1. I don't know.
2. Again, I don't know, since I am not American.
3. Anytime my wife and I travel in the States, we follow the example of our good friends from Indianapolis: Tell the server that we would like to share. No problem, he/she will bring our order with two sets of plates/dishes. I have not dared to try this Canada yet.
4. No, it does not bother me at all. It is only "excess" if any of the meal goes to waste (or waist).

"Big Bob's" portions may be generous. The flip side of that is what we found in a hy class restaurant in Winnipeg, located at Portage & Main. For a price that would have made Bill Gates think twice, we received filet mignons, size of a twoney, accompanied by watery and overcooked melange of peas and carrots.
In other words a meal that would have left an anorexic to starve.

We did not dare to ask for second cup of coffee. Some places in Canada still charge for that.

Poster of #3 ridicules Americans - with typical Canadian hutzpah - for being obese. He/she would be well-advised to remember that historically, just about everything that happens in the States, will, eventually happen in Canada.

So, under 5'6", 300 lbs. Canadians are not too far off in the future. Of course, when it happens, it will be all the fault of those horrible American restaurant chains, like Wendy's, McDonalds, Perkins, Olive Gardens, etc. that fed us too much but we were too greedy not to eat.

Another thing to consider, (in addition to food prices - properly pointed out by SirJosephPorter) is how cheap and how generous restaurants are in our two countries.
 
tracy
#22
People get huge portions in cheaper restaurants in my experience. When you go to a chain place or a diner they seem to feel obligated to give you a lot of food for your money. If you go to a nicer restaurant (read: more expensive) you get a normal portion of food. My favorite restaurant is a place called Ketchup in West Hollywood. They are a tad pricey, but give normal portions.
 
EagleSmack
#23
Yup... big portions... that's how we do it here. The thing is to discipline yourself not to eat it all. The 99, The Outback... chains like that overload you. For me... each meal is actually two meals.

Yes indeed... we have our share of overweights.

One thing is for sure... we have the heaviest poor people in the world. I remember watching NFL players hand out turkeys to poor families around Thanksgiving. The folks they were handing the turkeys to easily tipped the scales at 250-300 lbs.
 
Curiosity
#24
I rarely order a meal from the dinner/lunch menu.

I order a la carte - with individual servings of what I'll eat rather than throwing away the food I don't want or need. Even if they insist on payment for the full order - I hate to see food thrown away.

I don't even accept the normal salad or soup offering unless we are going to eat it not waste it. Bread - forget it - unless some will eat it and take the rest home in a bag.

I am always amazed at what the people pack in here for regular 'eating out'... even more
amazed they can walk out to their car afterward.....burp!!
 
karrie
#25
Serving sizes are a function of North American capitalism, plain and simple. At some point in time, us people with all this STUFF decided that the more we pay, the more we should get. And not in quality of food, just plain old quantity. So, the restaurants started competing not through service, not through selection, not through quality, but through sheer quantity. And North Americans in general, living in a land of plenty as we do, would rather pay more for a huge plate of mediocre food than we would to pay the same for a salad plate's worth of truly good, nourishing, food.

I'm willing to wager that as time goes on, especially as we go further and further into this recession, and further and further into addressing health issues like obesity and heart disease, people may start paying for quality again. It all depends on the market I suppose. I hope we see it sooner rather than later.
 

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