Our ideas of different countries are formed by our perception of their culture, architecture and their cuisine. You can’t imagine going to France and not having a croissant, or going to America and not having a burger. However quite a few of those foods we associate with certain countries aren’t exactly true. Some of them simply aren’t eaten by the locals, and some of them you won’t even find on the menu. Let’s take a look at some of the famous foods that aren’t eaten by the locals.
A lot of people think spaghetti and meatballs is an Italian dish, but the truth is – you’ll never see spaghetti served with meatballs in Italy. It just doesn’t happen. These are two different dishes and they’re served separately. It’s Americans who invented this combo.
Same goes for caesar salad, yes it was invented by an Italian, but as an accident. Apparently he was in Mexico at the time and he didn’t have the ingredients he needed so he just improvised and that’s how Caesar salad was invented.
When you think of Sweden you probably immediately think IKEA and Swedish meatballs. It makes sense, Sweden is very proud of their meatballs, but the truth is that it’s not an entirely Swedish dish. Now you might think that it’s probably a variation on Italian meatballs, but that would be wrong too. The recipe the Swedish use today is one that came from Turkey in the 18th century.
Chances are you’ve probably heard frog legs mentioned whenever the subject of France comes up. Everyone talks about it as if it’s their national food and you just have to try it while you’re there. But in reality you won’t find frog legs on French menus, it’s not something they eat or something that’s popular in France. In fact, you might have to go to very specific region of the Dombes to even find these. When in Paris, you’re much better off trying a French croissant (which, by the way, is actually Austrian, but let’s not get into that).
Most people will think of sushi and tempura when they think of Japan, and rightly so, those tempura shrimp are delicious. But turns out tempura isn’t Japanese at all. It’s something the Spanish invented during lent, possibly to make the fish and seafood taste better. Japanese cuisine isn’t hugely into deep frying at all.
Vindaloo sounds Indian doesn’t it? And it seems to have all the flavors we associate with Indian cuisine. But it’s not a dish that was invented in India, in fact it was brought in to India from Portugal by explorers, and then Indians made it their own by adding more spices and making it what it is now.
Depending on your interests and exposure to Chinese culture you’ll either think of egg rolls or some weird fried insects when it comes to Chinese cuisine. Both of those stereotypes are wrong. Chinese people don’t eat fried insects on the regular, in fact most of them don’t eat stuff like that at all, it’s something shocking that’s purely for the tourists, and in general that’s more of a Thai thing to have fried insects. And egg rolls aren’t Chinese either, even though you’ll see them on most Chinese menus around the world. The Chinese have spring rolls, but no egg rolls. Oh and also, those fortune cookies you’re used to having with your Chinese take out – those actually originated in Japan.
You can’t talk about Mexico and not mention their cuisine, it’s too damn delicious. But did you know that Fajitas aren’t actually a Mexican dish? It’s a dish that was invented in Texas in the 1930 and it’s actually a prime example of Tex-Mex fusion cuisine.
Those who love desserts and chocolate in particular will probably have heard of German chocolate cake. It’s a delicious chocolate cake that is basically a dream come true for those with a sweet tooth. However, the name German chocolate cake is misleading. It’s not German at all, it was invented by an American called Sam German and named after him.
It’s a huge misconception that Danish pastries or Danishes as most people call them are actually Danish. They actually originated in Austria and have been largely known as Vienna bread up until 1840s. The concept of Danish pastries was then brought to Denmark by Austrian bakers and the Danish kind of made it their own.