Nashville, Tenessee, does many things extremely well, but one of their utmost specialties is the traditional American breakfast. You’d be hard-pressed to find any eaterie, independent and franchised alike, which doesn’t offer a quality breakfast menu.

However, the very best pancakes money can buy are (probably) handmade at Crackerbarrel. I went there a couple of days ago and learnt some handy ways to properly enjoy breakfast as a nervous tourist.

1. Become a Yes-Man 

If the British are at a party or restaurant, they will do everything in their power to refuse every hospitality. Here is a scene from your average English gathering.

Host: Hello, panting traveller. Could I get you anything to drink?

Panting Traveller: (Internal monologue) My palate is drier than the typical John Lennon interview response. My vision is blurring like a kaleidoscope , my scalp is prickling-

Panting Traveller: No thank you, I wouldn’t want to be any trouble.

(Slumps to floor. Mozart’s Requiem Mass in D Minor bursts through the soundtrack. Slow fade to black.)

This is the deeply entrenched conservative programming we will need to overcome.  If a waiter offers you an extra egg or a free refill of that delectable glass tankard of lemonade, accept it gladly. One of my friends finished a meal flanked by four tall glasses. We can only aspire to a similar standard.

2. Appreciate your Waiter

Why does the UK insist on only borrowing the most putrid elements of American culture- Hello, KFC- than the best bits? Unlike their droning cousins across the pond, the waiters here ask for your order in a warm, energetic patter, and what’s more they gseem to be sincere about it. Serving you and catering to your every individual need- dairy free toppings are available at most pizzerias-is a privilege, never a chore.

You may believe that’s because of their singularly Happy-Go-Lucky culture, and while that is undeniably a contributing factor, it is not the entire story. Most American waiters have no offical wage and survive thanks to the nation’s abundant tipping culture, where it is quite normal to leave a $10 note.  They are literally living off the kindness of strangers and will do everything in their power to win your financial favour.

If you’re satisfied with your service, and in all likelihood you will be absolutely overwhelmed by the waiter’s generosity, do leave a token of your appreciation.

3. Straddle the Language Barrier

Coming to the States, you naturally assume that communication won’t be a problem. Not so. Although we speak the same words, we don’t exactly speak them in the same way, meaning that there may occasionally be a mortifying misunderstanding.  Hence, I give you the perennial instalment of Loose’s Midwest Phrasebook! I’m yet to find a respectable publisher, but I’m sure you’ll agree it’s only a matter of time. Today’s subject is water, perhaps the most important pronunciation to master in this unrelenting muggy climate.

water (Wor-ter)

noun

  • the clear liquid that has no color, taste, or smell, that falls from clouds as rain, that forms streams, lakes, and seas, and that is used for drinking, washing, etc.

However, asking for wor-ter in an American restaurant will gain you nothing but a politely baffled waiter and concerned sideways glances. Here they only serve watt-ah, which I’ve helpfully defined below.

American Water (Watt-ah)

noun with additional consonants

  • almost identical to regular hydrogen oxide, but notably twangier in flavour and constitution.

I told you this series would be interesting.

4. Embrace the Strange like a Worn Teddy Bear

The maiden visit to Crackerbarrel is understandably bizarre. Firstly, no restaurant in the British Isles would allow you to lounge on the porch, cradled in a rocking chair, as they clear your table.

Secondly, this particular chain of restaurants are innovatively old fashioned in that they offer no wi-if signal, forcing us to endure the gross indignity of sustained eye contact and engaging conversation.

Thirdly, the food isn’t always what you expect; biscuits are actually scones and gravy equates to the boiled down sludge of porcine back-fat.

Every moment here is a blessing. Don’t get frustrated with the differences. Instead, savour  everything, no matter how unfamiliar, like one of those limited edition MacDonald’s breaded mozzeralla sticks.

5. Capitalise on your Exotic Charm

Ever wonder how the British Empire ruled America for 167 years? I may have the answer. Our totty accents mesmerise waiters like suggestible cobras. Speak to them, and watch how their ears prick up in fascination, how they will comprehensively answer your question, partially because it’s either their job or in their nature to assist you, moreover because of the pleasure they find in your richly exotic responses.

So use this to your advantage. Ask them to list all of the multifarious ways of cooking eggs,  their personal meal recommendation, or indeed their favourite local place to visit. They are so content to oblige you will think you have known them since birth.

 

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