When you’re hungry, you probably grab a familiar snack that you know you’ll love. On the other hand, the snacks that Americans know and love aren’t quite the same in other parts of the world. In other words, if Americans asked for these foods elsewhere, they’d likely be pretty surprised with what they received!
Hamburgers in Japan
A lot of the dishes we’ve looked at so far are either different named dishes or Americanized versions of dishes. This is because American cuisine often blends dishes from different cultures.
Yet, there are still American dishes that make their way into other countries to be modified. For instance, Japan often offers Western-style dishes with their own unique flair. One such example is hamburgers. These are often slathered in a sauce instead of what Americans are used to, closer to a Salisbury steak than a hamburger.
Particularly, White Chowder
While chowder isn’t a dish that all Americans enjoy, it’s popular in the northeastern states, especially. However, it isn’t all chowder that Americans may not recognize in other countries.
Specifically, the most popular chowder in America is white chowder or clam chowder. In most of the other countries around the globe, chowder refers to the red variety. Americans aren’t quite as likely to see the white chowder they may be used to somewhere else in the world.
A Thanksgiving Staple
When it comes to Thanksgiving, there are some staples that many Americans stick to. This includes everything from the iconic turkey to sides that have become family favorites.
The most unfamiliar one to people outside of the United States is sweet potato casserole. More specifically, the practice of topping the sweet potato casserole with a layer of marshmallows. The closest example from another country would likely be goguma mattang. This Korean dish is candied potatoes – it still skips the marshmallows, though.
Same Name, Different Item
Especially between the United States and the U.K., we’ve noticed some interesting differences in food names, despite a largely shared language.
Another example of these differences is what a request for jelly is in each place. To Americans, jelly is a seedless jam that could go on a sandwich, toast, a bagel, or more. In Britain, on the other hand, an American would be surprised to ask for jelly and receive a gelatin dessert they’d likely call Jell-O.
S’mores Are Pretty Unique
When it comes to camping, you can’t go wrong if you have s’mores on the schedule as a dessert. That’s why it might be surprising to learn that this dessert is actually uniquely American.
That is, the concept of toasting a marshmallow and putting it on a graham cracker with chocolate is unique. There are similar concepts around the world. For instance, the German snack pictured here uses chocolate, marshmallows, and sweet bread. It’s more of a snack cake, though.
Depending on your opinions and where you’re from, liquid cheese can mean a lot of different things. There’s something specifically American about spray cheese, though.
In particular, the cheese that comes in a can, like Cheez Whiz, is a confusing concept to non-Americans. Similarly, the “fake” cheese that goes on nachos and tacos in America isn’t very common elsewhere. You’re more likely to find melted cheese or freshly grated cheese in other countries in the place that canned cheese has in the United States.
“French” Dressing in America
When you ask for French dressing in the United States, you usually receive an orange dressing. This American French dressing is actually quite different from authentic French dressing.
For one, the ingredients are different. Genuine French dressing uses components like olive oil, Dijon mustard, vinegar, garlic, shallots, and a little bit of salt. American French dressing is often much sweeter and even incorporates ingredients that aren’t used in a more traditional recipe. An American would be surprised by French dressing in other countries!
Hot Dogs and Spaghetti
This is a difference that Americans may not see often but might love if they had the chance to try it. After all, it combines two pretty familiar dishes in it!
That is spaghetti and hot dogs, which is a dish that often graces tables in the Philippines. This is likely related to the popularity of products like SPAM in the Philippines. Plus, it’s a combination that works well. It provides the pasta with a protein which spaghetti doesn’t seem quite the same without!
What Is Seafood Pho?
Pho is a pretty versatile Vietnamese dish. It features rice noodles in broth with the addition of broth, herbs, and a protein – usually chicken or beef – at its basics.
There are plenty of great places in the United States that an American can enjoy a delicious bowl of pho. Yet, there are some key differences in some of the options you have in America that you usually wouldn’t. This includes options like seafood pho or shrimp pho – boiled eggs are an interesting choice as well.
Introduction to Wasabi and Ginger
This one isn’t as much of a complaint about the food Americans eat. Instead, the difference focuses more on how Americans tend to use the ingredients included with a dish.
When you order sushi, it usually comes with two familiar additions: wasabi and pickled ginger. Many Americans put the pickled ginger on pieces of sushi and mix their wasabi into the soy sauce. Neither is made for this! The wasabi is separate from the soy sauce and the pickled ginger is supposed to be a palate cleanser.
Chips or Chips?
When you want a snack in the United States, reaching for a bag of chips is an everyday solution. After all, they’re made specifically to satisfy a salty craving.
This time, though, asking for chips around the world will get you a different dish just because of local sayings. In Britain, asking for chips will leave an American with what they recognize as French fries. That is, a thicker cut French fry. However, the word “crisps” will work instead!
Grabbing a Sub
If you want a quick bite for lunch, it’s popular for Americans to choose to grab a sub at a deli or sub shop. However, these sandwiches aren’t the same around the world.
For one, wraps are more popular around the world than what Americans know as a sub. Not only that, but the use of deli meat is far more common in the United States than elsewhere. In other countries, you’re more likely to see options like shawarma as the primary option.
American Chocolate Is Different
Americans love chocolate. There are even some notable chocolate giants – like Hershey’s – within the United States. That doesn’t mean they set the standard, though.
Around the world, chocolate is a popular snack but American chocolate is unique. Unfortunately, it isn’t unique in a way that makes it favored. Compared to chocolate around the world, American chocolate manages to be much sweeter than chocolate around the world but, at the same time, has a much less rich flavor.
Again, pizza isn’t originally an American dish. Rather, it comes from Italy originally which, once again, isn’t a surprising fact. Yet, pizza from other countries might surprise Americans.
Actually, the surprise comes in what other countries listed as “American pizza.” This pizza is often made with a thick crust with off-the-wall toppings most Americans wouldn’t think of. This includes options like pizza with hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, or even French fries on it. To be fair, these aren’t all completely unheard of.
Biscuits and Gravy?
This one is another case of two countries using different names for the same food. It’s the main reason that people from Australia or the U.K. might recoil from an offer of biscuits and gravy.
American biscuits and gravy are usually fluffy breakfast biscuits served with sausage gravy over them. This description doesn’t sound too bad and it’s a popular choice for Americans, especially in the south. The unfortunate miscommunication comes into play in that biscuits can also be another name for cookies.
A Traditional Breakfast
Before running off to school or work or even on a lazy weekend morning, you can’t miss breakfast. The dishes that make up a breakfast vary around the world.
To Americans, a big traditional breakfast usually includes protein like eggs, bacon, or ham. On top of that, there’s usually a biscuit or toast and maybe even a sweet factor like pancakes. This isn’t the standard everywhere. For example, in Japan, breakfast can include gohan, miso shiru, natto, and other traditional options.
Fajitas Without Beef?
In America, you can stop at plenty of places to pick up an order of fajitas. That is, you can pick up what people like to call fajitas.
However, fajita commonly refers to the type of cut of beef used in the dish. These come from small strips of the beef skirt. Yet, it’s still fairly common when it comes to replacements such as chicken in its place. It’s when shrimp fajitas and the like appear that it becomes more uniquely American.
What to Do With Waffles
Waffles are a favorite dish around the world. With the prevalence of Belgian waffles, it’s no surprise that the idea came out of Belgium, France originally.
The thing that Americans and everyone else have disagreements on at times is exactly how to serve those waffles. It’s pretty common to serve waffles with something sweet like syrup, whipped cream, or even fruit. However, the American classic of chicken and waffles is a sweet and savory combination fairly unique to the United States.
Poutine and Disco Fries
While poutine isn’t available everywhere in the United States, there are still plenty of Americans that enjoy it. Conversely, there are Canadians who want to set the record straight.
There is a difference between poutine and what they call Disco Fries. These are closer to the American version of poutine. At the basics, they encourage Americans to try using thick-cut fries, not fast food fries. On top of that, poutine calls for great gravy, cheese curds, and squeaky cheese. Anything else and its Disco Fries.
The pancakes that Americans are used to are another fluffy and warm food item. These are just better suited to being the main dish rather than a side.
Once again comparing American and British versions of food, British pancakes are thinner. They still serve a similar purpose in a meal as American pancakes but they aren’t quite as rich. If you find yourself in Britain and you want these fluffy options, try ordering American pancakes instead!
Goulash, Not Pasta
Originally, goulash came out of Hungary and is a pretty hearty staple. It’s actually even one of Hungary’s national dishes. The American version is pretty different, though.
Whereas Americans know goulash as a pasta dish, this isn’t actually what authentic Hungarian goulash usually is. The use of pasta actually veers away from the origins of the dish as a stew. It often features meat, vegetables, and stock but not usually pasta when it’s made outside of the United States.
Types of Bacon
If you eat meat, you usually can’t go wrong with adding bacon to a dish. What different countries know bacon as, conversely, can change quite a bit.
American bacon is usually thin and crispy – it’s even sometimes referred to as streaky bacon. A trip to Britain has a different take on bacon. They often use back bacon which is much thicker and often less crispy than American bacon. It’s pretty fitting for a variety of meals.
In the Details
Grilled cheese is a delicious and easy sandwich. Plus, it’s the perfect thing to turn to when you want something warm or a sandwich that goes well with a bowl of soup.
When it comes to grilled cheese around the world, there is a subtle but key difference between the American and British versions. American grilled cheese is actually rarely grilled and it’s far more often pan-fried. In Britain, if you order a grilled cheese, it’s often actually grilled like a panini.
Tacos aren’t an American food by nature. In fact, most people already know that tacos have their origins in Mexico but, like many dishes, were adapted by Americans.
The main difference between an American taco and its authentic counterpart is the components that make it up. For instance, the use of diced tomatoes over salsa and cheese sauce used over the concept of real cheese. One of the biggest questions people have is about “taco-flavored” ground beef as the primary protein.
Instant Ramen vs. Authentic Ramen
When you ask most Americans about ramen, they probably think of the Instant Ramen that sits on store shelves. After all, it’s a staple food to have around when you’re looking to eat for less.
This is only an instant version of a widely varying dish, though. Originating in Japan, ramen is broadly described as a noodle soup. The actual dish ramen vs. its instant counterpart varies in its ingredients. Rather than just noodles and flavored broth, instant ramen often excludes additions like meat, nori, scallions, and more.
Boxed Mac N’ Cheese
In the United States, mac n’ cheese is a classic staple! Still, many American consumers are used to buying a quick and easy boxed mac n’ cheese option.
These boxes of mac n’ cheese have their benefits when it comes to a day when you need something quick and easy. Still, it doesn’t match what other countries consider close to mac n’ cheese like the älplermagronen available in Switzerland. Namely, not too many of these options come boxed and ready to make.
Birthday Cake Flavoring
There are countless types of cake out there. As such, technically speaking, a birthday cake could be any type of cake that you want it to be.
Yet, American birthday cakes are often what’s considered “birthday cake” flavored. Moving even further, the trend even makes its way into a lot of dessert-flavored snacks on the market. In other countries, Americans might find themselves with fewer “birthday cake” flavored options when they’re craving something sweet.
American breadsticks are a fantastic rendition of a classic. They’re often fluffy with additional seasonings like garlic and even additions like cheese. In fact, more than just the U.S. loves this.
On the other hand, if an American were to visit the U.K. and ask for breadsticks, they might be surprised. The British version of breadsticks is a much crunchier snack. These are still intended as an appetizer of sorts but they aren’t the warm, fluffy appetizers Americans are used to.
Hot dogs, as we’ve said, are a staple in American cuisine. Whether you opt for the average backyard barbeque or a gourmet option, there are plenty of differences.
This extends outside of the United States as well. For instance, in New Zealand and Australia, hot dogs are often deep-fried. On top of that, the concept of what a hot dog changes too. In some countries, sausages are more prevalent than the frankfurters that Americans know as hot dogs.
Croissants in a Sandwich?
Croissants are a flaky bread product that almost everyone loves. Traditionally, they’re usually eaten for breakfast or paired with a warm drink when you stop by a coffee shop or cafe.
While Americans didn’t invent the croissant, they did adapt it to fit popular preferences. One concept that takes many Europeans aback is the use of croissants sliced in half as sandwich bread. If an American is planning on visiting Europe, they probably won’t find as many variants on what a croissant can do.
Carbonara is a pasta dish that, like many, originally comes from Italy. More specifically, Rome. Later on, it made its way to the United States where it became popular as well.
There is one major difference between American carbonara and traditional carbonara, though. Traditional carbonara doesn’t use a creamy sauce like is often added to American carbonara. Instead, it uses egg and hard cheese as well as a protein like cured pork to adorn the pasta.
The Smartest Candy
To an American, Smarties are a hard candy that are a little sour. They’re also a little controversial among candy lovers for their slightly chalky texture.
In the U.K., Smarties look a little different. While still a candy, it isn’t anything like American Smarties. Instead, these sweet treats are a chocolate center with a candy coating. Unlike an option like an M&M, these candy shells are actually flavored depending on the color, albeit not strongly.
A Sweet Sandwich?
The thing about sweet and savory items is that switching them up can surprise people. If something is usually savory but it’s fashioned into something sweet, it can be shocking.
That’s how a lot of the world feels about American peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. While they’re delicious, they do defy expectations. Most people expect to eat a sandwich that’s savory but this is just the opposite. Yet, it’s one initially upsetting combination that many people absolutely love.
Cinnamon Rolls Slathered in Icing
Cinnamon rolls are a sweet treat to have with breakfast. They’re also closely related to other recipes like Swedish kanelbullar.
There are some differences between the two that set them apart. Namely, American cinnamon rolls are often topped off with a slathering of icing. While there are some iced kanelbullar, it isn’t as common. More often, the cinnamon rolls are topped off with either an egg wash or pearl sugar. This makes them less sticky-sweet than the American version of cinnamon rolls.
American Sliced Bread
Walking the bread aisle in America often means looking at a multitude of pre-sliced and bagged bread options. While familiar, Americans would see something starkly different elsewhere.
For one, many other countries are more likely to sell bread in a fresher loaf like an American bakery section would. In addition to that, this sliced bread apparently even has a different taste! Specifically, there have been complaints of the bread being sweeter than the average loaf. Alternatively, it’s a pretty quick and easy solution when you need some bread!
Not Really Chinese Food
Almost any American who has stopped by a restaurant for Chinese food has probably wondered how authentic it actually is. It depends on the restaurant but many have a few dishes that are fairly American.
If you want a prime example of an American dish on many Chinese restaurant menus in the United States, it’s sweet and sour chicken. This dish isn’t traditionally Chinese but that doesn’t mean others aren’t as well. If you want something a little more authentic, try out some Peking duck!
Cream Cheese in Sushi
Originating in Japan, the traditional dish sushi has become globally popular. In that happening, there have been a lot of changes to how sushi is traditionally prepared.
As for the United States, the most surprising choices are what goes in sushi. Most often, people outside of the United States are surprised by American use of cream cheese and sometimes even fruit in sushi. That doesn’t even touch on sushi variants that have cropped up such as sushi-themed burgers and burritos!
If there’s one thing that American food is known for, it’s usually that it’s a little unhealthy. This is especially true regarding breakfast sweets like cereal.
To an American, a sweet breakfast treat usually comes in the form of sweet, colorful cereal. Sometimes, they’re even topped with extra sweets like marshmallows. In other countries, sweet cereals exist, of course, but they aren’t often as brightly packaged or as fluorescent in the bowl as American cereal.
Bubble tea has boomed in popularity over the course of recent history in America. The drink originated in Taiwan back in the 1980s and has persisting popularity.
As many with popular trends, it has been adapted and evolved as its popularity expanded. One American variant on the tea with tapioca pearls is to replace the tea altogether with a smoothie. Of course, now it gets a little more confusing since they’ve switched out on the primary ingredients that make bubble tea what it is.
Plenty of Ice
Stepping away from foods for a minute, this entry on the list is actually about drinks. Specifically, how Americans receive their drinks at a restaurant.
In particular, when Americans order water at a restaurant, they’re often served an ice-cold glass – emphasis on ice. These cups of ice with a bit of water often surprise people visiting the country. When heading to another country, an American might be surprised to see little to no ice when they order water.
There are two major points about Americanized chai that other countries have questions about. For one, it’s simply called “chai” not “chai tea,” as “chai” means “tea.”
Another point of contention that others have with American chai is that it sometimes comes in teabags. Alternatively, authentic chai relies on the use of tea leaves rather than bags. There are also key differences in how chai is spiced, almost to the point of masking the core taste in American versions.
Cool American Doritos
When it comes to American chip flavors, there are definitely some that stand out from the international crowd. For instance, ranch as a chip flavor isn’t universally common.
Yet, that doesn’t mean it isn’t available. Cool Ranch Doritos are a popular flavor in the United States but you won’t find them in other countries – under the same name, at least. If you find yourself elsewhere, you’ll probably see them branded as Cool American Doritos. The chips are apparently a little different too.
American Bahn Mi
Another Vietnamese dish that Americans have probably experienced differently includes banh mi. The word banh mi simply means bread – the bread used in this dish.
The bread itself is a type of baguette that features a thin crust. Inside, it’s soft and the bread is sliced and ingredients include meat, vegetables, and condiments. However, there are a few non-traditional options that make their way into banh mi. Vietnamese banh mi usually won’t feature items like cilantro in the traditional basics and getting the bread right is absolutely crucial.
You can’t go wrong with cheese. Well, you shouldn’t be able to at least. Yet, there are plenty of places around the world that wonder what Americans did to their cheese.
Of course, not all cheese in the United States is bad. It’s particularly the orange slices that we call American cheese that people have questions about. Not only does it not look anything like other cheeses that you’d buy in a wheel or round but it doesn’t have the same consistency at all.
Pigs in a Blanket
While they’re more often made at home than ordered in a restaurant, pigs in a blanket are a pretty popular dish in the United States.
These little bite-sized snacks aren’t the same everywhere, though. While Americans are used to these items as hot dogs baked in croissants, British pigs in a blanket are sausages wrapped in bacon. The core concept is close but the results are pretty different. Honestly, that seems like a delicious option as well!