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Posts Tagged ‘Norwich’

Captain America's In Norwich

For me, this American Diner seems to represent a unity of individuals. By this i mean, even in the United Kingdom, a restaurant depicting these values manages to work. Anyone can eat there, regardless of their race, religion, wealth etc. It is also really interesting that the restaurant is called Captain America, of whom we all know is seen as the American hero promoting American collectiveness and unity.
Therefore, to me this image represented America because as well as depicting fast food for which America are most famous for, it also presents a collectiveness and therefore a unity of culture. This is something that I believe us britons associate so well with americans.

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022024

These two representations of America in Norwich particularly stuck out to me; they both tell of a similar kind of America, while having several differing undertones. The first, ‘Captain America’s Hamburger Heaven’ seems to represent a consumerist America, although not in the same way as places like McDonalds or Starbucks which are already established companies throughout the UK. ‘Hamburger Heaven’ is of a unique brand, which many British people may find as a positive change of pace in the face of the aforementioned sorts of brands we are accustomed to. The exterior is also striking in its use of neon lights and of course, Uncle Sam in the window; even if you don’t know what he specifically represents, you will immediately associate him with America. The neon lights in particular bring to mind American diners, the sort you would expect to find on the roadside, for example in certain portions of Route 66.

The second example, the superhero shirts (as well as the countless other pieces of merchandise sold at the Television and Movie Store) can also be seen to represent a consumerist America, but in addition, its love of superheroes. The logos of the superheroes, particularly ones such as Batman and Superman, make them instantly identifiable across generations. The last ten years or so have seen a revival of the superhero craze and this has most definitely been felt over the pond in the UK. The recent ‘Avengers: Assemble’ film has arguably marked the peak of said revival and this is well represented in the various merchandise. The fact that the t-shirts are displayed in the window goes to show how recognizable the superhero genre has become again over the last decade. It is also true that many of us grow up with these famous characters and icons firmly implanted into our heads, without really considering which country they originate from. It is easy to underestimate how much of our media is influenced by American creations and ideals. Of course, in the UK, we interpret the concept of heroes and what they stand for quite differently. Many of us don’t always consider how much they are portrayed as the living, breathing embodiment of the American way and the faces of justice.

Sam Coleman

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UEA American Studies student Cat Clark went looking for American Food in Norwich, actually her instructor offer to pay her to do it.  So she stopped first at Route 66.  (This site was the subject of an earlier post here.)  Turns out, Route 66 has closed down. (Any theories as to why?) No worries, Cat found an alternative, ‘Captain America’s Hamburger Heaven.’  (By the way, check out the web-site  for the place — check out the icons and the information on the food, including “the ‘Diet Special’ for those watching their waistline.”

 

Here Cat’s smart, funny, and interesting commentary.

When asked to write about an American restaurant in Norwich, to compare and contrast how or if culture can be seen through food, I at first thought as only a student can, great FREE FOOD!!! The more I have thought about it the more excited and interested in the experience of eating I have become. Let’s face it, everyone has to eat, it is one of the few things we all have in common. However, it is the very commonality of the act of eating, preparing and sharing of food that also offers us the clearest vantage point to observe our contrasting cultural or religious beliefs. Food has gone beyond just a means of sustenance it has moved into layers of meaning and significance. It is through food along with the act of eating that as children we learn about customs and family life. This linking of food and memory continues throughout our lives, with significant occasions, people and often places associated with the very act of consuming a meal. In fact many, if not all of us will have these food memories, that not only recall memories to mind but evoke emotions and thoughts. The memory of a first date or a last date, your grandfather’s 80th birthday, a wedding or a funeral. These  ‘food memories’ not only evoke past memories or experiences but can also signify to our mind and body the mood in which a present meal is to be experienced. A perfect example of this would be a romantic meal for two!

So how does this relate to my burger you ask? Well I have been thinking about the representation of food, more specifically how a countries culture such as America is perceived and subsequently represented in the UK through food. The response I have come up with is this that the burger is somewhat of a cultural parody. As I sat in the restaurant surrounded by kitsch Americana, and ate a burger that, although ordered rare, would only achieve this classification had I got it yesterday, I began to wonder when this parody of American food became, to the UK at least, an acceptable representation of authenticity. Is it too consumer driven so that the idea that travels and lasts is the one with the all singing Disney America? That is I think what this burger represents, to me at least, Disney on a plate it looks real from the outside but has no depth or meaning. I was left with questions like do English people know what rare is? Do fish and chips translate in the same way to Americans? Is it possible to get a decent slice of cheesecake anywhere other than New York? I was also left remembering the last great, I mean truly keep you there for day’s kind of great burger I’d had. Technically I was in Canada for this burger, a tiny little town with 463 residents called Teslin, 2hrs from Whitehorse. If you’ll forgive the fact that the story is Canadian I think it is still relevant. Anyway, here we were lunchtime had arrived and my friend said “I know this great place for lunch.” We pulled up to the one and only hotel/food store/gas station come diner in town. I’m not expecting much at this point but what I got was a true marvel. A buffalo burger with poutine, I am salivating as I write this, and it struck me that this food memory was the real deal truly authentic. I thought to myself why doesn’t that kind of authenticity travel? Why are we left with this unrealistic less than representative version of American food? The answer came to me – it is the whole world’s obsession with two words: ‘fast’ and ‘consumerism’! I for one think it is a shame we miss out on the massively diverse food culture that America has because the mythical representation is what sells!

Cat Clark, American Studies, UEA

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The course American Icons began where all good ideas begin . . . in a coffee shop, the terrific Frank’s Bar in Norwich, England.  I was meeting with Sarah Garland, an American Studies professor at the University of East Anglia, and we were talking about putting together a class that we could teach at Temple and UEA at the same time.  Icons, we decided, would work.  But what Icons?  After we finished our coffee, we started to walk around Norwich and around each corner, we saw a representation of the US — Elvis, a Starbucks, a McDonald’s (and a Burger King and Pizza Hut), a cowboy, a Budweiser sign, and a restaurant called, Route 66.

Here is a picture of the place:

Have any of the UEA students been there?  What is it like?  What version of the US is it selling?  What are consumers consuming?

The web-site for Route 66 says that it is an “American roadhouse” (what is that? what does this idea of a roadhouse invoke?) and that it makes “authentic burgers.”  Check out the menu (and check out the reading for later in the semester on hamburgers).  Look at how places (states really)  in the US are used in the naming of the food?  Again what is being sold here?  What is the appeal of the US in this context?  Where is Route 66 — the actual route and its myths — located here?

 

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