Traveling internationally? Looking to eat the food of the region? Here are the top 6 foods to avoid on your travels if you want to dodge American culinary tourist traps!
1. Nachos in Mexico
Although you might be tempted to order a steaming pile of crispy nachos on your trip to Mexico, nachos might not be as native to the country as you may think. Nachos were created for US army wives in 1943 at a restaurant just over the Texas border in Mexico. The Mexican restaurant owner had nothing after hours to feed the American army wives but fried tortillas and cheese. Word traveled back to the US about the yummy, impromptu creation and became a Tex-Mex special in the Lone Star State and beyond.
2. Spaghetti and Meatballs in Italy
Although “polpettes” – mini meatballs – are served as a main course in Italy, where did giant meatballs served with a pound of spaghetti come from? Italian-American immigrants introduced the dish upon moving to the US. The increased size of meatballs was due to increased income of Italian immigrants to spend on food in America. The pasta accompaniment was part of US culture adoption to satisfy the view that a starch was part of a complete plate.
3. Alfredo Sauce in Italy
Although an Italian man originally introduced Alfredo, the sauce never “stuck” in Italy. The man who coined the sauce brought the concept to America when he opened a restaurant in New York City. Now the sauce is well-known and consumed across the US – but in Italy, no one will know what you’re asking for if you ask for Alfredo!
4. Corned Beef and Cabbage in Ireland
Corned beef and cabbage actually originated in New York City. When the Irish immigrated to the US during the potato famine, they often experienced discrimination along with their Italian and Jewish counterparts in the US. Living in primarily Italian and Jewish burrows, Irish immigrants frequented Jewish delis where Corned Beef and Cabbage was a cheap, common meal. The Irish found the dish to be reminiscent of pork and potato dishes they ate in Ireland, but at a lower price.
5. French Fries in France
There’s nothing more quintessential in the US than a burger and French fries. So are fried potatoes American or French or neither? Rumor has it that French fries actually originated in Belgium where townspeople along the River Meuse traditionally ate fried fish. But in the winter, the river would freeze and they’d fry potatoes instead. When American soldiers in World War I were stationed in Southern Belgium where the primary language was French, the soldiers coined these yummy potatoes, “French fries.”
6. German Chocolate Cake in Germany
German Chocolate Cake isn’t the least bit German. Its name originates from a gentleman named Sam German who created a sweet baking chocolate bar for Baker’s Chocolate Co. In honor of him, the bar was coined “Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate.” The first German Chocolate Cake recipe was published in a Dallas newspaper by a Texas homemaker who used one of German’s chocolate bars. The recipe was titled “German’s Chocolate Cake” which was so popular that it increased the chocolate bar’s sales by 73 percent in one year!
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