Why are so many Americans travelling abroad, "embarrassed to be American?" In all my travels, I freely confess to have gone through that phase too. And yet as I continue to take what amount to mini-trips abroad (to the Asian, South Asian (Indian) and Middle Eastern/North African markets) to get my freaky-freaky ingredients, I wonder at the wisdom of this approach.
By law, I, and the owner of a given store are most likely Equally American. When I go abroad why can't I be American too? Why can't MY version of "American" be proclaimed as loudly as the one, "I-am-embarrassed-about."
Why can't it be, "Why Yes, I am an American! I'm just embarrassed that the other version is too." After all we are admonished from grouping and prejudging members of other nations, religious groups, races, etc... why do we do this to ourselves?
And further... as embarrassing as some of the activities of other Americans are, doesn't the fact that they are known of and exist, Prove what an open society we have? Even the stuff we don't like about our country is out there for all to see. No society is ever neat and tidy, some are just presented that way. Anytime you look into the glory days of any past "perfection" anywhere or when, the white washed misery always seeps out. That, after all, is why these periods never last. And because it is often misery that forces change... that is why the transition is always so chaotic and painful.
So, next time I put my passport in my bag, no more of this trying to pass over that I am an American (Most non-Americans can tell anyway. To be honest, we DO have a way about us.) Be proud of what you are... including the seething mess left at home. It is our mess after all. And we have the power to change it. The Naive Hopefulness that marks us, has changed the world an awful lot.
We also have the power to enjoy Tamarind Lhassi with Cayenne and Caramelized Shallot Bengeit with a Jalapeno Remoulade. For I know of NO WHERE ELSE where we can crisscross cultures so thoroughly - or tastily.