It's no secret that food varies from country to country. There are some meals that people in the USA eat regularly, yet those who live everywhere else haven't even heard about them. Even weirder than that are the drinks, snacks, and meals consumed both in America and other countries that look different when prepared by Americans. So get ready for a bit of culture shock because it turns out some of our favorite foods look pretty unique and even odd when put next to their foreign counterparts.
"Birthday Cake" Flavor Isn't a Taste Sold in Other Countries
Sometimes it almost seems like Americans have gotten bored with food. Maybe they have too many options at their disposal, and now they are busy trying to come up with flavors that don't really make too much sense. One such flavor is the birthday cake flavor. In most other places in the world, there is no such thing as a flavor called "birthday cake." Birthday cakes can come in any flavor, so it wouldn't make sense to have a flavor that is named after it.
However, in the US, you can find countless things labeled as "birthday cake" flavors. They are usually vanilla flavored and incorporate sprinkles and frosting.
Bread Around the World
America is not famous for its ultra-nutritious or healthy food. In fact, if you ask people around the world, it's probably quite the contrary. As a result, you'll usually see that white bread is by far the most popular type of bread eaten in the US. It is known to be the least nutritious and sometimes even seems like you are eating air, but it is still the most common. However, that is not the case in the rest of the world.
Many other countries prefer different types of bread, which are more unique and healthy. Sourdoughs, pumpernickel, ryes, and many others are among the most popular.
The French Don't Quite Know What to Do With Canned Cheese
Cheese in a can is a pretty strange and unique concept if you think of it from a non-American perspective. Cheese is supposed to be quality food made from quality dairy products, not something that is squirted out of a can. The French, in particular, seem to have a hard time understanding the concept, as they pride themselves on the quality of their cheese and want nothing to do with cheese from a can.
Although it may be convenient and inexpensive, you really cannot compare it to regular cheese that is made the old-fashioned way. Although it is called cheese in a can, is it really actually cheese at all?
Ice in Soft Drinks Is an American Thing
Ordering beverages in the US can be quite a different experience than in other places, specifically Europe. It can already be shocking enough that you can get free refills in the US (in most places, you have to pay for anything additional). But even more so than that, you get ice in almost all of your cold beverages in the US. In the rest of the world, you usually have to request ice; otherwise, the default is iceless.
Not only do restaurants in England rarely offer beverages with ice, but the water is almost always room temperature as well. It is not even cold. Maybe most of the people there prefer it that way.
A Croissant Is Not Always Meant to Be a Sandwich
In the US, you can usually find either a croissant or a croissant sandwich, but it does seem to be easier to find the sandwich than the actual pastry sometimes. If you're an American who has not traveled much outside of the US, you might be surprised to find out that this pastry is actually meant to be eaten alone and is not really supposed to be used as bread.
There is no denying that the croissant sandwich is quite delicious and has been showing its face in many countries worldwide. But in Europe, you'll still see that it is mostly consumed as a pastry.
Smarties Are a Bit Different Depending on the Country
If you are an American, when you hear the word, Smarties said in the context of food, your mind goes automatically to the little pebble-like sugar sweets that are colorful and come in a long, old-fashioned package. In most other places in the world, they think of something quite different. Although they are also colorful candy, in Europe, Smarties are actually candy-coated chocolates that come in a little box.
You can't even really compare these two candies as they are not the same in taste at all. Their main similarity is that they have the same name.
Waffles in the US Versus Hong Kong
Americans love their waffles. There is hardly a breakfast place around that does not offer various types of waffles. In the US, the waffle is usually a sweet dish topped with syrup, fruit, or whipped cream. Sometimes, you'll also see that combined with meat. However, in Hong Kong, things are a little different. There you will find waffles that look more like filled-up pitas than waffles.
In Hong Kong, unlike the US, they create an opening inside the waffle and stuff it with different foods, like a pita. It can be sweet, savory, or a combination.
Hungarian Goulash Became Pasta Bolognese
It's no secret that the US is a massive melting pot of different cultures. As a result of the history of the US and its people, you can find all sorts of dishes that actually have their roots in traditional European meals. For example, traditional Hungarian goulash looks a lot like pasta bolognese, even though goulash is a meat-based stew and bolognese includes pasta in the mix.
It's debatable whether or not pasta bolognese even originated from Hungarian goulash, despite the similarities in their looks. Maybe an Italian met a Hungarian, and this was the best way to combine traditions, and the rest is history.
A Different Take on the American Hot Dog
If you ever can't seem to think of a single American food (it can be hard to come up with something particularly American at times), you can always go back to the hot dog. The hot dog is perhaps the most American food in existence, so whichever way the Americans make it is how it's supposed to be. Okay, just kidding. Other ways of preparing hot dogs can be equally as good. For example, many other countries offer hot dogs without the bun or toppings.
These other countries usually won't call their version of this a hot dog. It is known as a frankfurter with toppings and cheese or even just deep-fried meat.
Mac and Cheese Is Not an All American Creation
You may be under the impression, as many people are, that Mac and Cheese is a particularly American dish with roots in the land of the free. However, this dish can be found in a very similar form throughout the world. One of the most similar versions of the good old American mac and cheese is the Swiss version that incorporates bacon and caramelized onions, along with the cheese and pasta.
The Swiss version of this dish is known as älplermagronen, which means "alpine mac and cheese." Which country do you think makes it better?
Breakfast Time: America Versus Japan
Breakfast is arguably the most important meal of the day. It is the first thing that you eat after the fast of night and it is the food that will sustain you throughout the day until your next meal. American breakfasts usually consist of eggs and toast, bacon, or maybe even cereal or pancakes. They don't have the reputation of being particularly healthy. However, take a look at a typical breakfast in Japan, and you'll be shocked at the difference.
The Japanese breakfast seems to be very balanced (although maybe a bit heavy with the fish). They have miso soup and rice along with vegetables.
Doritos' Ranch Flavor Is Known as "cool American" Flavor in Other Countries
Ahh, there is nothing quite like Ranch dressing. It is the most controversial and popular flavoring in the US. It seems like everyone loves it, but at the same time, the taste can come across as strong and offensive. Either way, the flavor has made it to the rest of the world. But what is known as Cool Ranch flavor in the US is called Cool American flavoring in other countries - at least when it comes to Doritos.
In some places, you can use the word American and Ranch interchangeably. We had no idea that Americans were known for their love for ranch!
British Pancakes Changed When They Reached America
Although America was founded by the English and therefore has a lot of cultural similarities, there are some things that the Americans did not retain from their British days. Most importantly, the pancake. Pancakes in the UK are thin and crepe-like, while pancakes in the US are quite the opposite. They are thick, fluffy, and served with butter and syrup, not fruit or lemon, as in the UK.
It seems that the British were influenced by their European neighbors, while the Americans decided to create an entirely different dish (one that is arguably tastier).
America: The Land of Super-Processed Cheeses
As you have already seen with the canned cheese example, it is clear that the US has a thing for extra-processed cheeses. It's no secret that the US has its fair share of processed foods in general, but cheese seems to be a strong one. Those brightly colored cheeses wrapped in individual plastic pieces and labeled "American" are among the most processed, and you'll be hard-pressed to buy them anywhere other than the USA.
The American cheese on the left is a concerning shade of orange. Unless it is a great cheddar, cheese shouldn't be that color.
American Chinese Food Is Hardly Chinese
You might be surprised to hear that the Chinese cuisine you can find throughout the US is not very authentic to genuine Chinese cuisine. Of course, it has roots in Chinese culture, but it has been diluted throughout the years, making it almost unrecognizable. P.F. Chang's or Panda Express create dishes that will cater to the American palate, even if they are not true to their authentic Chinese claims.
Even one of the most common "Chinese" dishes, sweet and sour chicken, was actually an American creation and did not really originate in China.
British Grilled Cheese Is Not What Americans Expect
=There is nothing quite like a good grilled cheese sandwich. It is simple and delicious and always hits the spot. That is if it is made in the US. If made in the UK, things might be a little different, judging just by the looks of things. Take a look at the British version of an American grilled cheese sandwich, and you will probably be questioning if you even want one at all.
The crispy bread and perfectly melted cheese make or break a grilled cheese. The British version of this seems to miss that memo. Where is the melted cheese coming out of the edges?!
The Language Barrier Between British and American People Is Because of the Word "jelly"
It's funny to think that two countries that speak the same language can have so many cultural differences come up when they try to say the same word. Whether it is a bin or a trash can, an elevator or a lift, a flat or an apartment, or jelly. In Britain, jelly is a type of dessert made of gelatin that is served with sprinkles and ice cream or whipped cream.
In the US, jelly is a sweet fruit spread like jam that can be put on bread or sandwiches. Although they are both sweet, they are not similar in any other way.
Cream Cheese in Sushi? Not in Japan
Sushi has been all the rage in the past few years, dominating the trendy food industry. Japan deserves all the credit for this dish that has been a main part of their cuisine since the early 1800s. Since sushi is originally from Japan (specifically the Tokyo area), they rely primarily on traditional Japanese food such as rice and raw fish. However, the US (and the rest of the world) have adapted sushi to be much more diverse.
You can find vegetarian, vegan, avocado, and cheese-stuffed sushi. You can even find sushi that is flavored to taste like Indian or Mexican food. The US has taken the concept of sushi and turned it into something else entirely.
Americans Made Some Changes to This Vietnamese Dish
There are immigrants from just about every country living in the US. As a result, there are also countless different dishes influenced by all the different cuisines that have impacted the American food scene. The Vietnamese dish called banh-mi is actually quite popular in the US, although it has been changed from its original Vietnamese version. This delicious meat sandwich has been Americanized by adding pork and reducing the amount of cilantro to fit the American pallet better.
Both of the sandwiches look delicious, but the Vietnamese version seems much fresher. Sometimes you don't need that much meat in everything you eat and could do with little extra herbs!
British Pigs in a Blanket Are Wrapped in Bacon
If you are not a vegetarian, there is a high chance that you have eaten pigs in a blanket at least once at a party or a gathering. They are always quite the hit and include a mini hot dog or sausage that is then wrapped in bacon. In the US, you'll also find the majority of them to be wrapped in the dough as well, making for a very filling snack.
However, the original British version of this snack is a little bit different, mainly because they do not include dough in their dish at all, and the "blanket" portion of the dish is just the bacon.
Bacon in Britain Versus the US
You would think that the vast majority of the world would have pretty much the same idea of what bacon looks and tastes like. However, that is not really the case. In Britain, bacon is different than the American version you know and love. It is much thicker and meatier and much less crispy than the traditional breakfast pairing you find in the US. It almost doesn't even look like bacon at all!
British bacon is not even fried, which makes you wonder if it can even be considered bacon or if the two meat dishes just happen to have the same name.
Where French Fries Are Called Chips
There seem to be quite a few similar yet different dishes here that are listed between the US and the UK. It makes sense considering the cultural similarities. However, there are also many that are focused just on the wording. Just like the jelly, here you have another language discrepancy. In the UK, french fries are called chips, and who knows what they call American chips. Maybe chips in a bag?
You have to admit that the American name of this dish doesn't really make much sense. After all, they are not even a French dish. Calling them chips does make a bit more sense.
They Eat the Wasabi Straight in Japan
Speaking of sushi, there is another way that sushi is quite different in the US compared to Japan. In the US, you will usually see that the wasabi and ginger pieces are placed on the side of the dish. You can add them if you would like, but they are considered supplementary. In Japan, that is not the case. The wasabi is placed right on the sushi itself, adding that spice to every piece.
If you ever go to visit Japan, be prepared for some spicy wasabi in every bite of your sushi. While the ginger can be kept until the end of the meal, the wasabi is not considered a side dish.
Cinnamon Rolls Actually Come From Sweden
Did you know that the beloved cinnamon rolls of the US are actually based on a Swedish dish known as kanelbullar? Although they appear very similar in most ways and incorporate the dough along with the frosting and cinnamon, there are slight discrepancies that have emerged over the years, making the dishes slightly different but still very similar. The shape of the rolls is the most obvious at first glance.
In Sweden, the rolls are more of a knot, and they also include much less sugar on top at the end. They do not have piles of frosting dripping all over the sides as in the US version.
American Tacos Are Not the Same as in Mexico
There is no doubt that American Mexican food is not the same as what you would get if you were to visit Mexico. Tex-Mex has a name for a reason. Mexican food has adapted to American culture, using many of the original ideas and concepts that you will find in traditional Mexican food, but changes it slightly to fit the American pallet. You can see this quite clearly when it comes to the taco.
Real Mexican tacos usually include fresh meats and cheeses, not mass-produced and overly processed meats and cheeses like in the American version. Although you wouldn't think this makes too much of a difference, it really does!
What Is a Sandwich Around the World?
If you were to do a study on all the different sandwiches that exist around the world, it would certainly be quite interesting. In the US, you will likely find sandwiches that are made with thinly sliced pieces of meat and cheese. They also have mustard or mayonnaise. You can even make your own in many places! However, sandwiches can be quite different in other parts of the world, specifically in the Middle East.
In the Middle East, you are much more likely to find a sandwich that is actually pita bread stuffed with meat or chickpea balls. They are very different than the Subway-style sandwiches you'll find in the US.
Clam Chowder Doesn't Always Look the Same
Clam Chowder is so famous that the entire New England region of the US is renowned for it. New England Clam Chowder. It is a thick and creamy soup that is made with some vegetables and, of course, clams. It is a comfort food of the highest level, with enough cream in it to give you a heart attack. But it may just be worth the risk for how delicious it tastes.
However, not all clam chowder looks like the famous New England clam chowder. Others are much thinner and more broth-based, sometimes not even including heavy cream.
Biscuits in Britain and in the US
Biscuits are a delicious part of American cuisine. You can order them for breakfast, and you can enjoy a yummy egg on top of a biscuit with gravy. They are light and fluffy, and tasty. Biscuits in the UK are also delicious but in an entirely different way. Biscuits in the UK are another word for a cookie. So if you order a biscuit for breakfast, you may be a little hungry by the time you leave.
It's funny to think that the same word in the same language can mean two entirely different things just because it is a different location in the world.
Real Canadian Poutine Does Not Have Mozzarella
Although the US and Canada are similar in many ways, they also have a lot of differences. Their cultures overlap, but they also have many slight variations. One of the differences is in their food. Most American food you can find in Canada and vice versa, with the major exception of the famous Canadian dish Poutine. Poutine is a french fries dish that includes gravy and cheese on top.
In the US, if you are ever able to find this dish, it will usually be served with melted mozzarella on top. However, the original version of this dish actually has fresh cheese curds on top.
Chai Tea Has Changed Its Identity Entirely in the US
For those who don't drink coffee, chai tea or a chai latte is often their go-to alternative. However, they probably don't know that the chai that they are used to is not exactly what it is in the chai's country of origin - India. In India, chai is not as sweet but is still made with milk, black tea, and spices. The spices are usually more authentic, though with stronger flavors.
Americans aren't usually accustomed to the strong flavors that Indians use in their chai. So you probably think chai is just cinnamon and sugar with tea. However, there are so many other spices that can be added to make it unique.
Breadsticks Are Actual Sticks of Bread Outside of the US
If you order breadsticks in the US, you will most likely get thin and long rolls of bread. They will be fluffy and soft and usually have yummy flavorings like garlic and oil. However, the US may be one of the only places with breadsticks that fit this description. If you order breadsticks in other countries, they will most likely be thin, long, and crunchy, as can be seen in the picture.
The non-American breadsticks are more like a cracker, and the American breadsticks are more like actual bread. They both are technically bread-sticks, but just in different forms.
Eating a Marshmallow Is Different Around the World
It's funny to think that there can be the same food worldwide, but it is consumed slightly differently depending on where you live. In the US, the marshmallow is most commonly eaten over a bonfire with chocolate, and a graham cracker warmed to perfection and known as the s'more. In Germany, things are a bit different. They have schokokuss, which are chocolate covered marshmallows that have a little bit of cake at the bottom - almost like a s'more.
Although they are not quite the same, they do have all the same ingredients. What do you think would happen if you tried to heat the German treat over a campfire?
Vietnamese Pho Has Entered the US Market
Vietnamese food has become increasingly popular in the US in recent years. All of the common dishes have made their way into local restaurants, and people love them. Traditional Pho has also been all the rage. If you are American, you will probably know Pho to be a meet based soup that is sweet, sour, and salty. Although it is very similar to the original Vietnamese version, there are some differences.
In Vietnam, Pho is very commonly seafood based. This is not something that you will find in the US very often. Americans tend to prefer their Pho with beef, chicken, or just vegetables.
Pizza Topping Around the World
Although pizza is originally from Italy, its deliciousness of it has created quite a buzz in the rest of the world since its invention. There is hardly a country in the world that doesn't have some form of this delicious dish. The second most famous place for their pizza is the US. Although it is different than Italian pizza, they do offer some good options with great toppings and crunchy crust.
There are some countries in the world that put even stranger toppings on their pizza than the US (almost hard to believe). You can commonly find french fries on top of the pizza in countries like Romania and Greece.
Is It Boba Tea or Is It a Smoothie?
Boba tea has truly become all the rage in the past few years. Originating in Taiwan, this bubble tea has taken America and the world by storm. It is aesthetically pleasing, tasty, and trendy. However, as with most things, the American version is not quite authentic. It is inspired by Taiwanese boba tea, but they have taken their own twist on the beverage, making it more of a smoothie than a tea.
Of course, the American version still has tapioca balls, but it is more creamy and sweet than some of the original Taiwanese versions. You can't deny that it is delicious, even if it is not authentic!
There's a Reason Instant Ramen Is so Popular
People love quick and easy dishes. Most people don't want to spend hours each day cooking and preparing food. That is where dishes like instant ramen come in handy. All you need is some boiling water and the bag of ramen, and you're good to go. The only issue is that in the US, you are limited to packaged ramen, and you don't have too many authentic and fresh ramen options.
If you go to Japan, you will be able to find countless authentic ramen places that will serve you fresh ramen with meats and vegetables and homemade broth. It'll be difficult to go back to the bag of ramen after that!
Here's How Japan Serves Their "hamburger Steak"
There's no shortage of burgers available in the US of A. There are few things Americans love more than putting a burger on the grill or picking one up from their favorite fast food chain. And while the burger craze isn't limited to the USA, it sure looks different in other places. Take, for example, Japan's twist on the "Hamburger steak." As seen in the photo, it's not actually a burger.
It's a steak that's usually served with gravy, some cooked vegetables, and sometimes a fried egg - but no bun to be found.
Who Has the Best Chocolate?
Europeans tend to look down harshly on American-made chocolates, thinking them subpar and overly sweetened. Hershey's is considered untouchable to the chocolate snobs of Europe. However, everything is a matter of opinion and taste. Although some European countries like Switzerland and France are famous for their chocolate industry, others are no better than the US and don't have a real reason to look down on American chocolates.
However, you cannot argue that European countries do have an overall higher standard for chocolate than the average American company. But that doesn't mean there aren't boutique chocolatiers that aren't quality in the US.
Italian Carbonara May Not Be What You Think if You're American
Carbonara sauce on pasta is extremely common in the US. You can go to any Italian-style restaurant and order it easily. However, if you were to order the same thing in Italy, you might be surprised by the result. True Italian carbonara has guanciale in it, which is a kind of cured pork. It also includes pecorino romano chess and eggs. Although both are tasty, they are not quite the same thing.
As you can see, the American version of this dish is just a more simple version. If you want the real deal, you'll have to go to Italy.
Is PB & J a Real Sandwich?
Only in America will you find that a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is considered a true sandwich and an entire meal. Outside of the US, people will most likely dispute the fact that that is a proper meal and would suggest a more balanced sandwich that includes greens and vegetables, not just some peanut butter and fruit jam combined together. No one can deny that it is tasty, though!
This should probably be considered more of a snack, unlike the avocado and tomato sandwich that is offered in other countries.