Foreigners Break Down Their Favorite American Meals
Jonathan Borba/Unsplash

Growing up, I had zero idea that the food I ate daily was "cultural."

It didn't occur to me until I was a kid when my mother had to gently explain to me that not everyone ate rice & beans.

She had to explain it because we were about to eat at a white friend's house for the first time.


I've always been weird about food tastes and textures and mom needed to warn me that the beans I could expect would be nothing like what I knew.

They would be sweet, have big chunks of chewy pork (which would also be sweet), and would NOT be served with rice.

"What do you mean there's no rice with the beans? Did they run out? Should we bring some?"

"No, they just don't eat rice and beans."

"So what do they eat with their chicharron de pollo?"

"They don't eat that. They do fried chicken a little different and they tend to eat things like rotisserie chicken instead."

Y'all should have seen my face.

It's been thirty years and I still struggle with the idea of not eating rice and beans all the time. I've come to understand that not everyone grew up in a Caribbean cultural household, though, and most Americans ate from a whole other menu.

Reddit user remyleboi00 asked:

"Non-Americans, what is the best 'American' food?"

Even as someone born in America, it took a while before I got familiar with American food.

So if it's just not your comfort zone - let Reddit guide you to the can't miss dishes.

Cajun

"Cajun food. Definitely the most unique American food"

- Excision

"As an American I 100% agree with you. Cajun food is heaven sent"

- Chaoticqueen19

"That's because of it's native American roots, fun fact Cajun peppers are named after the south American tribe that influenced the Spanish/French who brought it to Louisiana. Maque Choux is also a very native American dish that can be found in Mexico as Calabasitas."

- Objective_Lion196

They Are Fun

desperate housewives eating GIFGiphy

"Curly fries 👌"

"Recently came across Carl’s jr for the first time in Istanbul airport and the curly fries were just the best"

- av_jet

"Absolutely!"

- GrandpasMormonBooks

"the fun thing about curly fries is that they are basically the same everywhere. I'm pretty sure it's one company supplying all the different fast food places"

- siccanimelord69

M.A.C.

"I hate to sound like an ignorant foreigner but a made from scratch Mac & Cheese with at least 3 different cheeses plus a crispy breadcrumb crust on top is one of my favorite American dishes"

- Mona_Moans

"Mac & Cheese is such a favorite of family get-togethers that if you volunteer to cook it, your Mac & Cheese needs references."

"It’s especially good with some pulled pork and caramelized onions mixed in. And some insulin."

- GetZePopcorn

"Solid choice. We Americans LOVE cheese."

- RyGuyStrong

"No need to apologize. One of our favorites too."

- sexysmartsingle

Thankful For Thanksgiving.

I Love You Cooking GIF by Bob's BurgersGiphy

"I'm from Mexico and we get spoiled with our traditional cuisine but I found the thanksgiving dinner experience in the US incredible."

"Love everything, the turkey (dark meat :) ), cranberry sauce, the stuffing (oh the stuffing), mashed potatoes, salads and the delicious pays that follow for dessert. That whole combination plus the red wine and good company is an incredible experience hard to match."

- i5rider

"We also get spoiled with your traditional cuisine."

- Pharaon4

"I usually get a food coma on Thanksgiving"

- FrenchiesRule

"As an American who loves the Thanksgiving and other holiday classics this warms my heart to hear from someone whose cultural cuisine is considered a full on cultural heritage of humanity by UNESCO."

"A nicely done, quality turkey with proper attention paid to all the sides, and good friends and/family is such a great experience."

"Same with the ham or prime rib dinner at Christmas. And all the pies. God I love pumpkin pie."

- RedCascadian

Smokey Deliciousness

"Anything smoked: brisket, pork shoulder, chicken, turkey. I've even had smoked burgers. If seasoned well you don't even need BBQ sauce and it is so tender and juicy."

- stickiestofickies

"I smoke meatloaf, can't go back to oven baked ever again."

- JohnnyBrillcream

"This tread has me wanting to smoke a brisket sooner rather than later."

- firemage22

"I love smoked brisket. I agree with you about the sauce. Taste the brisket before dunking in another flavor."

- Sourbreaker

"Native Texan here. Agreed. The general rule here is that you never sauce beef. Let the flavor of the meat stand for itself. Hell, there are some places in Texas (particularly in Lockhart) that will ask you to leave their establishment if you ask for BBQ sauce."

"Now, pork and chicken, whatever else... Go nuts... Just leave beef alone."

- IAmTheZechariah

"I had smoked mac and cheese once, it was heavenly."

- RecursiveBob

Risk It All

hungry bart simpson GIFGiphy

"This is probably a recipe for disaster but I'm British and growing up visiting Florida I would love eating raw cookie dough from the refrigerator section"

- Blocker212

"Cookie dough is so good that, given the option between not eating it, or getting food poisoning, nearly everyone will pick the cookie dough."

"It’s one of the few foods in the country where everyone knows the risk of food poisoning, and everyone makes the conscious, willing, and eager decision to not give a f*ck."

- duckbill_principate

"All of us here in the U.S. know that eating the cookie dough is the best part of making homemade chocolate chip cookies. I have a recipe for brownies with a cookie dough topping. Cookie dough ice cream is also extremely common (it’s vanilla ice cream with cookie dough bits mixed in)."

- Idontcheckmyemail

The Holy Pudding

"I can’t find someone who’s listed it so"

"BANANA PUDDING"

"That shit is LIFE CHANGING"

- Madmagican-

"Gotta have the Nilla wafers or it isn't right."

- zekeweasel

"Ah, finally! A person of culture. Banana pudding is the closest food can come to a religious experience."

- timmeh4853

Cornbread!

cornbread cooking GIF by emibobGiphy

"Oddly enough, no one seems to have mentioned it…but cornbread . Yeah , as a guy who moved here , Americans have got cornbread down to a T . Combined with some soul food ? Makes me smile on the inside . Gives me high blood pressure , but smile on the inside too"

- Thatmixedotaku

"A nice warm cornbread muffin with some butter and a little drizzle of honey is amazing."

- AvatarJack

"Cornbread with a nice bowl of chili is such a nice comfort food."

"And the spicier the chili the nicer the sweet, buttery cornbread is with it."

- WingedLady

A Classic

"Peanut butter and jelly sandwich, at first i thought it was a disgusting combo, but when i tried i loved it"

- ilovepotatoesalott

"Interesting, most people in America are introduced to pb&j before we're even old enough to remember"

- Clear_Impact2025

"Farmer’s market jam is the way."

- ubiquitous-joe

"That was my most frequent meal in elementary school. I didn't realize it was an American thing until recently."

- Robbie_the_Brave

"It's easily top 3 greatest sandwich ever."

- The_Exquisite

As American As It Gets

pulp fiction breakfast GIF by MIRAMAXGiphy

"I may be a simpleton, but an average diner with bottomless filter coffee, pancakes, bacon and syrup was my favourite part of the day. Although I did put on about 10-15kg after a month in Texas"

- BasedEvidence

"I missed this sooooo much when I lived in the UK (grew up in New Jersey, land of diners). They simply do not do American diner breakfasts in Europe."

- landshanties

"My wife is German, I am American but we live in Germany. We took her parents to the states with us one summer on vacation and one of the things they insisted we do was go to a diner where they pour your coffee at the table, like in movies and tv shows."

"Took them to my favorite little spot, they loved the waitress filling up their cups unprompted."

- the-real-truthtron

Now that youve heard Reddit, it's my turn.

So remember how I said that I wasn't really exposed to American food until I was a bit older, even though I was born and raised in America?

I was 22 before I had meatloaf and mashed potatoes.

FAM. Fam. Faaaaaaaaaaam.

There is no greater meal for after a night of drinking than a good meatloaf and a nice herb and garlic mashed potato.

Keep your greasy pizza, amateurs. It's potato time over here.

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