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15 Surprising Foods That Aren't From Where You Think

OMG October 10, 2017 By Vincent

The different cuisines from across the globe are what makes cuisine and culture so diverse and exciting and offers us an array of edible options for our meals. Sometimes we are surprised at new discoveries and bites to excite our palates and other times there are things we are comfortable with and have long since known their origin, but you may be surprised where a few of these well-known staples come from.


Take, for example, the humble donut. An icon of American gastronomy, it has long been thought that American Hanson Gregory invented them whilst he was aboard a lime-trading ship in 1847 but the Dutch have long disputed it as one of their own distinct delicacies but with no solid evidence to back it up.


However, the earliest recorded recipe for doughnuts comes from 1800 when a Baroness Elizabeth Dimsdale from Hertfordshire, England, noted down a recipe for 'dow nuts' taken from a local cook, known only as Mrs. Fordham. So as it stands, the English have the earliest claim to the sugary, fried treat.

 French Fries

Surely it's all in the name of these delightfully salty snacks, non? Well apparently not, as some historians claim that the recipe comes from Belgian villagers who prepared potatoes in the winter by frying them because it was the same way they prepared fish when rivers weren’t frozen in the 17th century.

Lorena Cupcake/Flickr.com

Given its location next to France, the same spoken language (in regions) and the joyful alliteration, the name of French Fries stuck forever condemning Belgium to fight to be rightfully recognized as the country that brought us frites.


Another French staple that doesn't come from France but rather, another European nation. Austria brought the world the kipfel, a crescent-shaped pastry made using a lot of butter, sound familiar?


To be fair, the French took this idea and then used puff pastry to make the distinctly French treat, but its origins are not as Gallic as you might have thought. 

Crab Rangoon

Go out for Chinese food, and you'll most likely see this dish on the menu, but if you actually end up in China at any point in your life, you'll have a tough time finding this to eat as it's actually from America.


Thought to be based on a Burmese dish, it is initially said to have appeared on Trader Vic's menus in San Francisco.

Egg Rolls

The egg roll was created in Chinese restaurants in America as it was thought it would appeal to the Western palate more than other Asian dishes.

Steven Dopolo/Flickr

Even then, it is based on the spring roll which is very popular in Europe and America and, although found in East Asia, is also thought to be a Western creation.

Chop Suey

Based on the cuisine of Taishan county in China, Tsap Seui is a dish of miscellaneous leftovers refried and served up, but Chop Suey is a distinctly American phenomenon.


There are many origin stories based on great Chinese leaders visiting America or of Chinese chefs trying to create a meal that would appeal to both Chinese and American palates, but none of them are historically verified.


Served in Indian restaurants across the globe as a crispy appetizer filled with meat or vegetables but it is thought to have originated in Central Asia and arrived in India via trade routes where it was then exported as a local delicacy.



A fiery Indian curry dish, Vindaloo was actually brought to the sub-continent by Portuguese explorers who had a dish where meat was marinated in white wine vinegar and garlic called carne de vinha d’alhos. 


This arrived on Indian shores in the 15th century, and over time it took on spices such as cardamom and chilies to become a dish of supreme heat and an Indian icon.


A dish of fermented cabbage that is widely associated with German cuisine and is infinitely popular in the Western-European country but as far back as 220BC, Chinese laborers were eating fermented cabbage and were thought to be eating it during the construction of the Great Wall of China.


The conqueror Genghis Khan is then thought to have brought it to Europe when he moved his Mongol hordes through the region and the Germans just happened to develop a taste for it.

Apple Pie

An icon of American patriotism, the phrase "American as Apple Pie" is well-known but, being a land of immigrants, the dish actually arrived from other parts of the planet. Apple pie dishes go as far back as the middle ages in Dutch history, are found on record during the times of Chaucer in England with the French bringing their own variation to the dish in Tarte Tartin around the 1880s.


It is thought to have come Stateside with British, Dutch and Swedish immigrants in the 17th and 18th centuries.


The New York cheesecake is as American as apple pie...but since we've just discovered that's not actually American this will come as a further shock to the system as there is evidence that a similar dish was served at the first Olympic games in ancient Greece with it going back as far as 776BC.


It was the New York addition of Cream Cheese that made it an American favorite, though.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

The stereotypical dish of any Italian family in popular media, Spaghetti, and meatballs, as a meal in Italy but rather Italian immigrants to America who had limited food available to them.


Using meatballs and spaghetti which they already had, the dish was then created stateside.

Tikka Masala 

A regular staple on any Indian restaurant menu, this dish was officially invented in Glasgow in the 1970s (although this is disputed) when a chef added the masala sauce to slices of skewered chicken.


In fact, it is so British that in 2001 it became recognized as a national dish.


A popular dish served on sizzling skillets in almost any Mexican restaurant known to man, the Fajita actually can be traced back to a 1930s ranch in Texas.


Originally made with strips of steak, it can now be had with almost any filling whatsoever.


Strongly associated with Japanese cooking, tempura can actually be found in old Moorish cookbooks from the 13th century. Derived from the Portuguese word “temporas” which means “Lent", it is understandable that it was eaten on such a religious holiday as Catholics cannot eat meat during certain periods with fish being allowable.

Masa Assassin/Flickr.com

It is thought to have spread throughout the world in the 16th century with Portuguese sailors who brought it to Japan as well as places like the UK where it evolved into the world-famous Fish and Chips.

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