I'm amazed at how many of the people who read this blog are from overseas. I love reading their own blogs and hearing each culture come through their words. (Mr London Street just wrote a charming story about an American friend who began to adopt a distinctly British attitude about expectations.You should check it out-- after you finish reading this, of course.)
The differences between Americans and everyone else (as Americans tend to categorize the world) are numerous. We tend to look at these differences on a psychological level but they go much deeper-- cellular even. If you ask a European about his heritage, he'll likely give you a single answer. If you ask an American, you'll usually hear a long list of places of ancestry. (Another sweeping stereotype for you-- Americans suck at math unless dealing with the many fractions of various nationalities that make up their heritage.)
For example, I am half German, a quarter Polish, and a quarter Italian. I may also be Scottish too depending on how deep you want to look into the questionable background of my great-grandfather. I am a typical American; a living mosaic of the those who emigrated to the states over the last few hundred years in search of a better life.
Except for one thing: Americans like simple as much as they like variety. For all of my cultural diversity, I am usually written off as 100% Italian. Granted, I have dark features and my last name ends in a vowel but I think the categorization goes further than that. Just as in eye and hair color, I believe that there are such things as dominant cultures in our genes. The resulting cultural tendencies are so forceful that they can overwhelm everything else, and try as you may, it is impossible to escape them.
I came to this great revelation during my family vacation in the middle of a day at the beach when my aunt offered me a snack from her beach bag.
"Are you hungry Harper? I made gazpacho."
Gazpacho. My aunt brought soup to the beach. And since you can't have soup alone, she also brought french bread, a variety of cheeses, and olives. To the beach.
One great thing about being Italian-- you'll never go hungry.