In our Sunday paper yesterday was a shopping insert for Lidl stores, which is a chain of European supermarkets. The insert was definitely Irish (they referred to their www.lidl.ie website) but the chain is German-based. Maybe that explains the confusing section labeled “USA Week!” inside, with the McEnnedy American Way brand of products. Here’s a bit of their description of American food:

“Enjoy the full flavour of American Dining! Kick back and savour the authentic taste and flavours of . . . genuine hotdogs flavoured with tomato relish, western style pizza, and much more. Why not host a movie night and invite some friends round to feast on the delights of our American special offers! As the movie draws to a close serve up some warm blueberry muffins and irresistible marshmallow figures!”

Ah, that brings back the memories of watching movies while eating blueberry muffins and eating marshmallow figures. Well, really, I was a bit confused until I looked a few pages on and saw that “marshmallow figures” appear to be marshmallows in a “variety of figures and shapes” such as a cow or a snow cone on a stick.

A few other products include the potato crisps in “zesty Texan, beef chilli [sic] or crinkle cut barbecue flavours,” all billed as “quintessential American potato crisps.” Also sold under the McEnnedy American Way brand were cheese and onion baguettes, barbecue ketchup and hot dog ketchup (imagine I never knew there were two kinds!), hot dog sausages in a jar (the only way you can buy them here, and with the explanatory note, “Combine with toasted hot dog bun & extra toppings for a great snack”), that aforementioned Western Style Pizza (which seems to have corn on it), and barbecue marshmallows (which I’m sorry to say don’t appear to be barbecue flavoured at all but seem to be made for toasting).

Again, I don’t know if the misperception of American food is Irish or German in nature, but we have seen some oddities on American-themed restaurant menus here in Ireland. Many places seem to think if you put an American icon’s name on a product (“try the Marilyn Monroe sandwich”) it’s American, no matter if the food is anything ever eaten by an American since the creation of the Republic. Some restaurants get it almost right, and then have small mistakes like serving a burger with both French Fries and onion rings, rather than offering a choice between the two, or offering “tomato relish” rather than ketchup.

Another interesting choice available from one of the shops in the English Market is Vermont curry. I know you Americans are all thinking, “Well, it won’t be authentic Vermont curry.”

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