10 Famous Foods That Didn’t Come From Where You Imagined

From baked Alaska to fries, from kiwi fruit to Scotch eggs, not all treats come as advertised. Here are some classics that aren’t what they seem.

a danish pastry

The Danes and French aptly call these layered pastries wienerbrød (Vienna bread) and viennoiseries. They were introduced to Denmark by Austrian chefs in the 1850s, then transformed into various forms across Scandinavia, Britain and America. The croissant so synonymous with France is inspired by the kipfel, an Austrian croissant-shaped biscuit that, reinvented using puff pastry, became popular in 1840s Paris.

Mongolian BBQ

MONGOLIA - 2012/06/25: Chef cooking on Mongolian Grill, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.  (Photo by Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images) One-time traveler use only Brian Johnston traveler 10

Photo: Wolfgang Kaehler/Getty

This meat and vegetable dish cooked on a griddle is not Mongolian and hardly barbecue. Rather, the style is more akin to Korean cooking techniques. It was invented by a Taiwanese restaurateur in the 1950s who then lost interest in it and became a recognized comedian. It combines Chinese stir-fry with teppanyaki grills; Taiwan was previously under Japanese rule. The name was a marketing ploy to add allure.

Hawaiian Pizza

Photo: iStock

You might think pineapple on pizza originated somewhere in the tropics, but no. It was – get this – a Greek immigrant to Canada who first put pineapple on a pizza in 1962, inspired by Chinese-American cuisine that combined sweet and sour flavors. Hawaii had recently gained statehood and supplied the ingredient. Incidentally, pineapple, carrot, and onion in stir-fries are a surefire sign of inauthentic Chinese cuisine.


Tempura battered vegetables - Broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, sweet potatoes and zucchini - Photographed on a Hasselblad H3D11-39 megapixel camera system

Photo: iStock

Foods fried in batter are not particularly Japanese and are found in many cuisines around the world. The first recipes came from medieval Arabic cookbooks and arrived in Nagasaki with Portuguese missionaries in the 16th century. The word is derived from the Portuguese for Lent because that’s when fried fish was eaten. Tempura batter is made with different ingredients and fried in different oils in different regions of Japan.

Parmigiana chicken

Melbourne pubs will reopen today.  Fancy a chicken parma for lunch?

Photo: Chris Hopkins

This Australian pub favorite has a convoluted history. Crispy veal cutlets came from northern Italy to inspire the so-called Viennese schnitzel and were imported all over the world by Italian immigrants. Layers of cheese and tomato, however, are a hallmark of a Parma eggplant (or parmigiana) dish. Parmigiana meat is however an American invention of the 1950s, in the USA often accompanied by pasta rather than fries. He arrived in Australia shortly thereafter.

See also: Do you like a good schnitty? Here are 10 ways to eat breaded meat


A plate of samosas - an appetizer commonly found in Indian restaurants - with onion-tomato chutney, mint-cilantro chutney and tamarind sauce for dipping.  credit: single use istock for traveler only brian johnston traveler 10

Photo: iStock

This puff pastry, stuffed with minced meat or spiced potato, is eaten as street food and a common entree in Indian restaurants. However, it originated in Central Asia, first appeared in Arabic cookbooks, and has a name derived from Persian. Variations appear with different shapes, sizes and fillings across Asia, East Africa and the Middle East. The original samsa, almost always baked, is an excellent hot snack in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

Swiss roll

Swiss chocolate roll credit: istock single use for traveler only brian johnston traveler 10

Photo: iStock

Called jelly roll in the United States, queen’s (or gypsy’s) arm in Latin America, and roulade in most of Europe, this rolled-up sponge cake covered in jam, cream, and sometimes fruit probably emerged from central Europe. . Although considered old-fashioned elsewhere, it is popular thanks to the British influence in Hong Kong and a staple of bakeries in Chinatowns around the world where the cream is often flavored with strawberry, mango or coffee.

Chinese custard tarts

Egg custard tarts were introduced to Hong Kong from nearby Macau.  They are traditionally a Portuguese dessert but became popular in Hong Kong during the British Colony era.  credit: single use istock for traveler only brian johnston traveler 10

Photo: iStock

Most of us are familiar with those flaky, crispy cream-filled pies from yum-cha restaurants. The Cantonese version only appeared in southern China in the 1920s, probably under the influence of British pies. The larger, more caramelized Macau-style version, although inspired by Portuguese pastel de nata, was only created in the 1980s by a British businessman, but has since spread throughout Asia in the East and in Chinese restaurants in Australia.


Ketchup with dipped fries credit: single use istock for traveler only brian johnston traveler 10

Photo: iStock

The obsessive American fondness for ketchup makes it seem as American as apple pie – which incidentally originated in Europe. But ketchup is derived from Asian fish sauces and once contained ingredients such as nuts, oysters or anchovies. The word probably comes from Malay or a southern Chinese dialect. Mushroom ketchup appeared in Britain in the 18th century and tomato ketchup in the 19th century.


Chocolate swirl cheesecake with cherry filling credit: istock single use for travelers only

Photo: iStock

Cheesecake, which isn’t really a cake, is also considered quintessentially American, but has been around in Europe since ancient Greek times, at least in baked form. The uncooked version, however, originated in the United States. Aficionados can take a world tour through the purple-colored Filipino cheesecake, the airier Japanese cheesecake or the dense and creamy New York cheesecake. South Africans often include a healthy dose of Amarula liqueur.

See also: 10 endangered species you shouldn’t eat

See also: The ten most controversial foods in the world

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