Fast food is a type of mass-produced food that is prepared and served very quickly. The food is typically less nutritionally valuable compared to other foods and dishes. While any meal with low preparation time can be considered fast food, typically the term refers to food sold in a restaurant or store with preheated or precooked ingredients, and served to the customer in a packaged form for take-out/take-away.
Fast food restaurants are traditionally distinguished by their ability to serve food via a drive-through. Outlets may be stands or kiosks, which may provide no shelter or seating, or fast food restaurants (also known as quick service restaurants). Franchise operations that are part of restaurant chains have standardized foodstuffs shipped to each restaurant from central locations.
Fast food began with the first fish and chip shops in Britain in the 1860s. Drive-through restaurants were first popularized in the 1950s in the United States. The term "fast food" was recognized in a dictionary by Merriam–Webster in 1951.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), fast foods are quick alternatives to home-cooked meals. They are also high in saturated fat, sugar, salt and calories. Eating too much fast food has been linked to, among other things, colorectal cancer, obesity and high cholesterol.
The traditional family dinner is increasingly being replaced by the consumption of takeaway, or eating "on the run". As a result, the time invested on food preparation is getting lower and lower, with an average couple in the United States spending 47 minutes and 19 seconds per day on food preparation in 2013.
The concept of ready-cooked food for sale is closely connected with urban development. Homes in emerging cities often lacked adequate space or proper food preparation accouterments. Additionally, procuring cooking fuel could cost as much as purchased produce. Frying foods in vats of searing oil proved as dangerous as it was expensive, and homeowners feared that a rogue cooking fire "might easily conflagrate an entire neighborhood". Thus, urbanites were encouraged to purchase pre-prepared meats or starches, such as bread or noodles, whenever possible. In Ancient Rome, cities had street stands - a large counter with a receptacle in the middle from which food or drink would have been served. It was during post-WWII American economic boom that Americans began to spend more and buy more as the economy boomed and a culture of consumerism bloomed. As a result of this new desire to have it all, coupled with the strides made by women while the men were away, both members of the household began to work outside the home. Eating out, which had previously been considered a luxury, became a common occurrence, and then a necessity. Workers, and working families, needed quick service and inexpensive food for both lunch and dinner. This need is what drove the phenomenal success of the early fast food giants, which catered to the family on the go (Franklin A. Jacobs). Fast food became an easy option for a busy family, as is the case for many families today.
Fast food in the Netherlands
|Patat speciaal and Frikandel speciaal|
The Dutch have their own types of fast food. A Dutch fast food meal often consists of a portion of french fries (called friet or patat) with a sauce and a meat product. The most common sauce to accompany french fries is fritessaus. It is a sweet, vinegary and low fat mayonnaise substitute, that the Dutch nevertheless still call "mayonnaise". When ordering it is very often abbreviated to met (literally "with"). Other popular sauces are ketchup or spiced ketchup ("curry"), Indonesian style peanut sauce ("satésaus" or "pindasaus") or piccalilli. Sometimes the fries are served with combinations of sauces, most famously speciaal (special): mayonnaise, with (spiced) ketchup and chopped onions; and oorlog (literally "war"): mayonnaise and peanut sauce (sometimes also with ketchup and chopped onions). The meat product is usually a deep fried snack; this includes the frikandel (a deep fried skinless minced meat sausage), and the kroket (deep fried meat ragout covered in breadcrumbs).