Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Another Cultural Revelation: Krystal Pups

The American South has quite a number of franchise eating establishments that are famous in their own right: Chik-Fil-A, Waffle House, Checkers, and Krystal, come to mind immediately. I love Chik-Fil-A's chicken sandwich, peppermint shakes at Christmas, and (did you know?) their chicken soup. Waffle House is unbeatable for pecan-laced waffles, hash browns (scattered, smothered, and covered), and the only grits I love to eat! Checkers has the best chili dogs and everything take-out. Krystal was the only one I had yet to try.

I had heard that Krystal had mini hot-dogs, something like sliders, but in hot dog format. Now, I love hot dogs, so I was eager to try these out. Yes, Checkers has the best chili dog, but . . . I could not resist the idea of three little hot dogs. So, today, I had the opportunity to finally visit Krystal and try the mini hot dogs, which are called "pups." They come in three's, nestled together in a little rectangular paper tray, cute as can be! You can get them plain, with cheese, chili, or both. And they were as delicious as they were cute! Three or four bites, and one was gone! What a brilliant idea, Krystal! I told the counter boy/teen that this was our first time to have them. He asked where we were from. "Illinois," I answered! He had no reply for that. Illinois is missing out on something. With a little research, I found that Krystal originated in Chattanooga, TN in the Depression and is a "Southern thing." A good one.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Eavesdropping in America

Eavesdropping is something most people don't think about, even though they do it all the time. But, if you live in a foreign country and you don't speak or understand the language very well, you unlearn it. I lived for over twenty years in Germany and Italy and only had a little grasp of the two languages, even after taking courses and living there for so long. Never mind the reasons why, it just happens when you work and socialize with other Americans most of the time and your German and Italian friends happen to all speak perfect English! That's why they are your friends!

Anyway, you quickly stop even trying to eavesdrop, because it's all just blah, blah, blah or perhaps blacht, blacht, blacht or blimini, blimini, blimini! And I'm not kidding! Other people's conversations just become white noise when in restaurants, shops, or any public place where you hear these things.

Okay, so upon returning to the USA, where I actually speak and understand the language, I am a bit surprised to suddenly be able to hear and understand what used to be white noise. Throw in people talking in public on their cell phones, and it's a real circus! I think the ones I dislike the most are the ones with bluetooth devices who walk around talking to themselves.

Mostly, I'm surprised at the shallowness of the conversations, although I'm sure these things are really important to them. In my athletic club, there is a lot of social climbing and catty remarks by the younger women. They don't seem to have a lot of good things to say and even fewer important things. It's really small small-talk.

While I'm working out, there are always trainers working with people. Those are the funniest conversations. The older women, I swear, just have a trainer for someone to talk to. They do very little actually lifting or exercising and a lot of personal conversation with the trainer, usually a younger female. The men talk about girl/women troubles with their male trainers. The serious ones don't talk much at all. If there does happen to be an interesting conversation, I have to fight the urge to jump in . . . because I understand what they are saying about, say, Italy or education.

Just remember, we all can understand what you are saying! I kind of miss the days of blissful ignorance in Europe.