Americans usually eat three meals a day, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Certain foods are typical for each meal. Breakfast usually consists of toast or cereal (hot or cold) with milk, orange juice (O.J.), and coffee (or hot tea). Eggs (scrambled, fried, or poached) and bacon or sausage are also eaten in the morning.
At lunch, Americans eat a lot of sandwiches. A sandwich is a filling between two slices of bread. The bread is typically white, rye, or whole wheat. Filling can be ham, roast beef, turkey, chicken, tuna or egg salad, cheese (often provolone, Swiss, or American) or peanut butter and jelly. Another popular food is a "sub" which is a large roll with filling. Soup and crackers is also common.
Dinner is the main meal. People usually sit down to eat dinner between 5:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Dinner consists of a main entree of meat, chicken, or fish with side dishes of rice, potato, or pasta and a vegetable or salad. Water, juice, soda, wine, or beer are the beverages people drink. After dinner, a special dessert and coffee are served.
Many Americans also eat between meals. These are called "snacks" and generally are not very nutritious. They include items such as candy, cookies, chocolate, crackers, and potato chips.
Eating Out in Restaurants
Fast food restaurants are the same everywhere in the United States. Local restaurants offer variety, but there are some general types to look for. Some places call themselves family restaurants. this usually means the food is not very expensive, and probably the food is typically middle-class American. These restaurants may not serve alcohol, and so if you like a glass of wine or beer with your meal, ask before you sit down.
Some places are called cafeterias. This means you walk through a line, choose your food, put it on a tray, pay at the end of the line, and carry your food to an empty table.
Other informal places to eat are called cafes, coffee shops, sandwich shops, delis (a kind of sandwich shop), diners, and truck stops. While driving along America's highways, you may find it interesting to stop at a truck stop and listen to the conversation of the long-distance truck drivers.
Here are a few interesting things you should know about American restaurants:
It is common in the United States to find signs saying "Wait to be seated" when you enter a restaurant. This means you must wait near the sign until someone comes to show you to your seat. This wait is not usually very long. If the restaurant is crowded, you may be told there is a wait and be asked for your name. Then you will be called by name when there is a place for you. If this happens, be sure you ask how long the wait is before giving your name. You don't have to stay if you don't have the time. If the restaurant is not crowded, you may see a sign that says, "Please seat yourself."
In restaurants, you should be prepared to answer some questions. Here is a list:
In restaurants, the usual tip for waiters is 15%. In most fast food restaurants you do not tip. In hotels and motels you leave a top for the maid only if you stay several days. You should tip 10%-15% for hotel room service people and $1.00 per bag for bell-hops. Barbers and hairdressers are usually tipped about 10%-15%, and taxi drivers also expect 10%-15%.