I’ve gained weight! Is this a sign that I live well in America?

Unlike what my folks think, I’m not mal-nourished because I lack hometown food. In fact, in a local supermarket, I can find almost all the Chinese ingredients I need, plus food and beverages that I’ve never seen before. Big round cookies, seedless watermelons, Dr. Pepper, mint chocolate chip ice cream, S’mores (saltine crackers with melted marshmallows and chocolate) and chicken noodle soup; you name it.

The food supply in America is astonishing—big portions, big packages, large quantities and zillions of choices. I think it’s hard for a single person to live in America because the products in supermarkets are big enough for a whole family. It usually takes me a month to finish a box of 15-ounce cereal. An entrée is good enough for two meals. I’m told Italians serve larger portions of food than the French. I say, American dinners are even bigger than the Italian ones.

Can you imagine a small coffee in an American McDonald’s is equivalent to a medium coffee in a Chinese McDonald’s? A large bucket of popcorn at the theatre is at least twice as big as a Chinese one. From soft drinks to ice cream, I’m gratified to order just the minimum size in America. I have no idea how Americans consume the large amounts of food and drink at one sitting.

I learn from the recent news that obesity in American adults has increased by 60% within the past twenty years, and obesity in children has tripled in the past thirty years. Every time I go to Wal-Mart, I’m stunned to see those roly-polies pushing a full cart of groceries. No wonder Americans like driving big SUVs. Otherwise, where else can people put the stuff they buy?

When I first moved into my single apartment, I was surprised to see a big fridge in the kitchen– twice as big as the one in my home in China. Do I really need this big fridge?

Yes, I do. After two weeks shopping for groceries in Pittsburgh, I learn that Americans live heavily on refrigerated food. I cannot shop for fresh produce every day like I did in Guangzhou. Instead, I have to stock up my fridge for at least a week’s supply.

Americans are not only big-sized, but they dream big—big houses, big yards, big boats, big dogs, big offices, big promotions and much more. That’s what makes America the Land of Dreams.


Filed under: Prose, Songyi Zhang's America