On Monday, the British English speaking teacher at my school asked if I could write or find a menu for a restaurant serving “typical American food.” I said sure, no problem… but then realized two seconds later that there is no typical American food. In the following class, I had a hard time answering the students’ questions about what Americans normally eat.
I told them there is no real American food. We eat everyone else’s food… Mexican, Greek, Thai, Chinese, Italian, etc. I’ve been trying to think of a restaurant that serves a little bit of everything, but I don’t know if a place like that really exists. So I finally settled on a Coney Island.
For those of you who are not familiar with Coney Island restaurants (which most likely means you are not from Michigan), think of the greasiest, fattiest food imaginable. Almost everything is fried. And the prices are so cheap, you can afford to eat 2,000 calories in one sitting alone. These restaurants are generally open 24 hours a day and you can order breakfast at any time of the day. In short, these places live up to the American stereotypes of unhealthy diets and problems with obesity.
Not only that, but they are incredibly patriotic, as the Gillie’s Coney Island site will show. I intend on using their menu in my classes. Sadly, I am now craving a greasy cheeseburger with chili cheese fries.
I can count more than a dozen Coney Islands around the Flint area, and I know there are even more in Detroit. I have so many memories of ordering a grilled cheese with a chocolate malt and chatting for hours with my co-workers at 1 in the morning. When I lived in Flint, there was a Coney Island a block from my house. There was a statue of a cow on the roof, which later was taken down and (I hope) to this day, remains in the parking lot.
Cheddar cheese. Places that are open 24 hours. Driving my car. I’m a little nostalgic today.