Elvis is playing on the jukebox. The smell of French fries (or “chips” if you’re posh) is unavoidably mingling with the distinct musk of cigarette smoke. We are ushered into the basement of The Diner on an average Saturday night. I order pancakes, coca-cola and bacon–the lumberjack combo. The track switches to a country song; a man is singing about his boots or his horse or something melancholy about a farm. I’m not really listening because the bacon is really good.
We are in an “American” restaurant in London. It’s themed with gaudy wall decorations and archaic stereotypes from twenty years earlier and I cannot look away. This little establishment is only one of many curious stereotypes that we’ve encountered thus far on our trip.
To my genuine surprise, many of these stereotypes have been positive! It seems as though my fears about being seen as an obnoxious American tourist were unfounded. I’ve had the opportunity to commune with the locals at a neighborhood pub and was pleased to find that they considered Americans to be overly polite, adventurous and charmingly receptive to new cultural experiences. I’m glad to hear they don’t think we’re all going around wearing cowboy boots, eating pancakes and occasionally shouting “Yee-haw!” with all the force our American hearts can muster.
Seriously though. Europeans really think that we love pancakes. As in we eat them for every meal, want them for snacks and go to bed with them under our pillow- love. They sell them pre-made in the bakery at grocery stores. I don’t know how I’m going to go back to the states where I am forced to make a batter and put it on a skillet for two minutes like a caveman. I’ve been spoiled rotten.
For what it’s worth the food at The Diner was amazing. Better than a lot of diner food I’ve had in the States. I honestly don’t know how to feel about this. They beat us at our own game, guys! But it’s hard to stay mad when there is a stack of pancakes in front of your face and an obscene amount of pork to its immediate left. I blame the bacon. The bacon shook my loyalty to its core.