Feasting on local cuisine is one of the great pleasures of world travel. But sometimes, when we’re three weeks into our overseas jaunt, nothing sounds better than a plate of American-style fixin’s. While ordering a burger or tearing open a bag of chips in a foreign country is usually enough, it should be noted that these goodies may be quite different from their U.S. counterparts.
Hot dogs, frankfurters, weiners ― whatever you call them, they’re available just about everywhere. The memorable shape remains intact wherever you go, though the size may differ. For example, Chinese sausages are traditionally quite small and wrapped in a doughy crust, while the bratwursts and frankfurters of Germany and Eastern Europe are notoriously lengthy and plump. When it comes to toppings, let’s just say some countries march to the beat of a different drum. Swedish gourmands may enjoy a weiner slathered in mashed potatoes and shrimp salad. Some Italian dogs are served on a pepperoni-stuffed brioche bun and topped with a few scoops of mayo. This notorious frankfurter from Brazil has it all: red pepper, green pepper, onion, hot dog (barely), a hard-boiled egg, corn, peas, Parmesan cheese, ketchup, mayo and potato chips. And leave it to the restaurateurs of Amsterdam to concoct the ‘Stoner Dog’, a totally rad post-coffee shop staple that’s available with a wide range of ingredients.
OK, technically pizza is an Italian dish. But considering 93 percent of Americans say they consume at least one slice of pizza per month and the U.S. pizza industry generates roughly $32 billion every year, it’s safe to say that it’s pretty much a staple food for us Yanks, as well. Not surprisingly, many of our overseas friends have also embraced the pie… though not necessarily the same toppings. In Finland, piehounds can order pizza topped with dried reindeer meat, while pizzerias throughout East Asia offer pies drenched in squid ink and topped with fried shrimp. Meanwhile in Scotland, deep-fried pizza is a popular pub snack. Some U.S.-based pizza chains have even begun to offer a diverse array of toppings to worldwide patrons; for instance, Pizza Hut customers in the Middle East can order a pizza covered in cheeseburgers, while the Shrimp and Mayo Roll Crust offering has been a big hit in Japan.
A quick trip to your local grocery store will reveal the vast array of potato chip flavors that are available to today’s American consumer. Likewise, bags of deep-fried, heavily salted potato slices just about every country on the map ― though the flavor options may differ from place to place. Britons can snack on chips flavored with pork sausage and English mustard; Koreans munch on chips that taste like octopus, or tako; Egyptians can pick up a bag of chips flavored like stuffed grape leaves; and mint and Marsala Lays are all the rage in India and Pakistan. One thing remains undisputed, though: they all taste good with sour cream and onion dip. That stuff is universal.
Breakfast is America’s meal, and the omelet is one of our most popular choices for the revered morning meal. And if we’ve learned anything from world cuisine, it’s that the hen isn’t the only critter that blesses us with edible eggs. In some parts of Thailand (i.e., the parts near large rivers), patrons can sink their fork tongs into an omelet prepared with crocodile eggs. Ostrich egg omelets are widely available throughout sub-Saharan Africa ― though be warned, one of these massive ova is equal to more than two dozen chicken eggs. If you’re looking for a more filling omelet option, Israel’s famous Matzah brei combines the fluffiness of scrambled eggs with the crispiness of Matzo. And if you’re craving a sweet option, Iranian omelets (known as khagine) use sugar, not salt, to season the yolk.