8 FLAVORS OF AMERICAN CUISINE: Based on a list of common flavors from historical cookbooks mentioned in American books from 1796 to 2000, eight popular and enduring flavors emerged: black pepper, vanilla, curry powder, chili powder, soy sauce, garlic, MSG and Sriracha.
Vanilla is here thanks to a 12-year-old slave who figured out a botanical secret no one else knew.
Chili powder spread across the country because of entrepreneurial Texan-Mexican women who fed soldiers and tourists — and a clever German immigrant who was looking for a culinary shortcut.
Sriracha has seen a meteoric rise in popularity since its debut in 1980. Sales of bottled Sriracha exceeded $60 million in 2014. A Vietnamese refugee combined elements of French and Thai cuisine, using peppers grown on a farm north of Los Angeles to make a hot sauce produced entirely in Southern California.
Japanese Chemist Dr. Kikunae Ikeda is credited with discovering MSG. Peter Van Hyning
AMERICAN TOURISTS: Don’t compliment an American’s girth. Answer their children’s questions. Fill your museum tour with fun facts. Because American tourists tend to want a personal connection to the guide, and expect the tour to be interactive and entertaining, foreign guides need special training.
GUYANA: some rural guides would give overweight Americans a thumbs-up and say things like, “Ah, packing it on — good deal!” as a compliment, equating an ample waistline with abundant wealth. Americans seem to say “thank you” for everything guides do, a custom that make the local people feel indebted to them.
UGANDA: Americans often want to become friends with their guides, and so they will ask questions about the guides’ families, education and homes to get to know them better. In Uganda, trainees sometimes ask, “Why is this person I don’t even know asking me so many personal questions?”
ITALY: The guide might need to approach the American tourist not so much as a valued family member but as a less cultured second cousin. It’s easy for a guide in Italy to reference a painter like Bellini or an architect like Borromini. Not so if the clients are Americans, whose knowledge of the Italian masters might stop at Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. While Italians prefer an “academic” tour, Americans want a tour that is “not only informative but also entertaining, filled with stories and fun facts.”
AMERICAN RELIGION AND OPTIMISM: Americans’ emphasis on individualism and work ethic stands out in surveys of people around the world. 57% of Americans disagreed with: “success in life is pretty much determined by forces outside our control” – far above the global median of 38%.
Wealthier nations tend to be less religious, but USA is a prominent exception. More than half (54%) of Americans said religion was very important in their lives, much higher than Canada (24%), Australia (21%) and Germany (21%), the next three wealthiest economies surveyed. 53% say belief in God is a prerequisite for being moral and having good values, much higher than the 23% in Australia and 15% in France.
U.S. more likely to say “today is a good day” than other rich countries (Pew Research Center)
The first influx of Irish occurred during the potato famine in 1845.
Russians in the first decade of the 20th Century was driven by anti-Semitic violence of the Russian pogroms (riots).
In the Austro-Hungarian Empire, army conscription and the forced assimilation of minority groups drove people to the U.S. in the early 1900s.
Since WWII, Central and South America and Asia have replaced Europe as the largest source of immigrants to the U.S. Immigration shrunk to almost nothing as restrictions tightened during WWII, and then gradually expanded to reach its largest extent ever in the first decade of the 21st Century.
200 Years of Immigration in the USA (Insightful Interaction)
WORKING TOO MUCH? No big city in this country works as hard—or at least as many hours per week on average—as San Francisco, where people log more than 44 hours at the office each week. People in Washington D.C. and Charlotte work the second longest work weeks, tied at 43.5 hours, followed by several cities in Texas.
Meanwhile, New York City, the city that supposedly never sleeps, ranks 12th on the list, at 42.5 hours per week. However, people living in the Big Apple spend more than 6 hours each week heading to and from work, nearly an hour more than that endured by dwellers of any other large city.
Cities Where People Work the Most (New York City Comptroller, WAPO)
BECOMING A LEADERS: Millennials are interested in becoming leaders — for different reasons. This ranged from 8% in Japan to 63% in India. Half of respondents from Central/Eastern Europe chose high future earnings as a reason to pursue leadership, while only 17% of Africans did. African Millennials seemed to care most about gaining opportunities to coach and mentor others (46%).
MANAGERS: in North America, Western Europe, and Africa, at least 40% of respondents said they wanted managers who “empower their employees.” Yet only about 12% of Millennials in Central/Eastern Europe and the Middle East chose that quality, instead technical expertise is the top pick.
WORK-LIFE BALANCE: Millennials strive for work-life balance, but this tends to mean work-me balance, not work-family balance. The dominant definition was “enough leisure time for my private life” (57%). Nearly half of respondents in every region said they would give up a well-paid and prestigious job to gain better work-life balance. Central/Eastern Europe was the exception, as 42% said they would not.
FORTY-HOUR WORK WEEK: Western economies, particularly that of the United States, have been built in a very calculated manner on gratification, addiction, and unnecessary spending. We spend to cheer ourselves up, to reward ourselves, to celebrate, to fix problems, to elevate our status, and to alleviate boredom.
Can you imagine what would happen if all of America stopped buying so much unnecessary fluff that doesn’t add a lot of lasting value to our lives?
WHITE V. BLUE COLLAR: My perhaps naïve hope is that when I tell students I’m not only an academic, but a “survival” jobholder, I’ll make a dent in the artificial, inaccurate division society places between blue-collar work and “intelligent” work. We expect our teachers to teach us, not our servers, although in the current economy, these might be the same people.
WHEAT V. RICE PEOPLE: Americans and Europeans stand out from the rest of the world for our sense of ourselves as individuals. We like to think of ourselves as unique, autonomous, self-motivated, self-made.
Because rice paddies need standing water, a community of rice farmers needs to work together in tightly integrated ways.
Not wheat farmers – wheat needs only rainfall and requires substantially less coordination and cooperation. And historically, Europeans have been wheat farmers and Asians have grown rice.
LEAFING OF NEW YORK: over the last 50 or 75 or 100 years, the more developed parts of the nation’s densest big city have grown greener.
Manhattan, East Side: the Queensboro Bridge from East 59th Street. Older photo, 1912.