I’ve been asked this everywhere I’ve ever traveled, and my kids finally brought it up today.

It started because I was using a PPT I made to show them our new vocabulary words. Three of our new words are breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For each, I’d chosen a picture of an “American-style” meal. The breakfast meal was a full on continental breakfast like at a hotel – eggs, pancakes, muffins, fruit, cereal, juices, etc. I told them that it was an abnormally large meal, but that these were the types of foods we like for breakfast. Often sweet. The kids in every class went a little wild and many hooted and hollered and 맛있 겠다-ed (“It looks delicious!!”) their little hearts out.

Next was a picture of a school lunch. It had milk, a hamburger, frieds, a salad, and a rice krispie bar (NOT tofu, I had to keep explaining). The kids were dumbstruck. You get to eat a hamburger AT THE SCHOOL? Do moms make that food for the school? COOKS come to school and make that food? The SCHOOL COOKS MADE THAT? and what of those FRIES? and that tofu dessert bar? WHAT OTHER THINGS DO CHILDREN IN AMERICA GET TO EAT? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? THEY GET CHICKEN FOR LUNCH? THEY EAT PIZZA? EVERY DAY? WHERE IS THE RICE? WHERE IS THE SOUP? THE KIMCHI? NO KIMCHI, BUT FRENCH FRIES??

One class had me answering questions for almost ten minutes before my co- and I halted them and moved on.

Next was a picture for dinner – a family sitting with plates of salad, dinner rolls, and pasta. Teacher, what food usually eat for dinner?  If eat chicken for lunch, Mom make chicken for dinner? Teacher, Mom knows how make chicken, pasta, pizza…? Mom knows so much! And dad helps? REALLY?

But none of those were the question that I have gotten asked everywhere. The special question came after a student asked me if I missed eating in America (answer: FOR THE LOVE OF ALL GOOD THINGS, YES.) It was this: Teacher, Americans have so much delicious food, but you are not fat? How are you not fat?

Good question, kid. I call it portion control. Some people call it exercise. And, well, some people ARE fat. I told them that American food is often unhealthy, especially school lunches, but that when we are young we exercise a lot and sometimes parents don’t let their kids eat those meals every day. But good job in noticing that all that food can’t possibly be thoughtlessly, consistently consumed without some terrible effects.