How American Food Is Perceived Abroad, According To David Lebovitz

David Lebovitz, the man who could possibly be credited as starting the entire food blog genre, has a motley food history exhibiting the great diversity of his many talents. Starting in film school and quickly moving into the restaurant scene after discovering that he found film boring, Lebovitz landed a job at the famed and hallowed Chez Panisse. After working as a pastry chef at Panisse for 13 years, he left in the late 90s to pursue further study in patisserie, particularly chocolate (via Eater).

In 1999 Lebovitz started what is now commonly known as a food blog to share his passion for chocolate and other pastries and as an outlet for his new cookbook, Room for Dessert. The term 'blog' hadn't even been invented yet. The blog still exists, and in 2019 was awarded Blog of the Decade by Saveur magazine (per David Lebovitz). In 2004, Lebovitz moved to Paris and has since published eight more cookbooks on food, drink, and dessert while keeping his blog going strong and fans clamoring at their inboxes. As an American chef abroad, Lebovitz has a good perspective on what the outside world thinks (or doesn't think) of his homeland cuisine.

Fast food is a foreigners introduction to America

What does the acclaimed, world-traveled, and humble pastry chef have to say about the rest of the world's perception of American food? In an interview with Eater, Lebovitz says, "Most people in the world, their only exposure to American food is through fast food restaurants. They don't see farm-to-table, they don't know Blue Hill, they don't see Chez Panisse. So they just see hamburgers, and that's what American cooking is to them."

Even if fast food is synonymous with America, countries have adapted it to their own culture and lifestyle. McDonald's, for example, may keep staples like Big Macs and chicken nuggets on the menu, but they also incorporate significant and local ingredients like the McSpicy Paneer in India (via Spoon University). Lebovitz discusses McDonald's in France, noting that the French menu has a burger with camembert cheese. France is the world's 2nd largest market for McDonald's, according to The Local. But, with camembert burgers, their fast food seems different than fast food state-side. And while America has much more to offer the world than fast food, its influence is undeniable.