15 American Foods Non-Americans Wish They Had in Their Countries

For decades, other countries have looked askance at American cuisine, claiming that we lack the refined palate of our international neighbors. But we do have some dishes worth writing home about, and many travelers to the States actually do. If you’re traveling to the U.S. you’ll want to get your fill of these foods before returning home.

1. Cajun Cuisine

Cajun food
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Cajun cuisine originated with the Acadians, who were forced to leave Canada in the 18th century. They migrated to Louisiana and brought their cuisine with them. New Orleans was a large port city even then, and the resident Cajuns picked up culinary influences from South America and West Africa. They added these inspirations to their own French-based cooking, and now Cajun food is known for its spices and delicious flavors. If you’re a fan of crawfish or pork, you’ll love some gumbo or crawfish etouffee.

2. American Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving dinner
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The origins of Thanksgiving aren’t entirely accurate or politically correct, but by and large, Americans make a delicious Thanksgiving meal. There are some staples of the meal, including cranberry sauce, pumpkin, and apple pie. There are regional differences in side dishes, with Midwesterners and New Englanders opting for versions of bread-based stuffing and mashed potatoes, while Southerners prefer cornbread dressing and sweet potato casserole. Don’t forget the star of the show: the turkey.

3. Macaroni and Cheese

Mac and cheese
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In some parts of the country, macaroni and cheese is a staple holiday food. In other regions, it’s common enough to be considered a “vegetable” side. Is there anything better than macaroni covered in creamy, melted cheese?  You can even add toppings and fillings, like chicken and bacon, to bulk it up. Mac and cheese has its origins in Europe, but Americans took it to heart when President Thomas Jefferson’s chef, James Hemings, introduced him to it and served it at a state dinner in 1803. It caught on and has been a staple of American cooking ever since.

4. Fried Chicken

Crispy Fried Chicken Tenders
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Other parts of the world may make fried chicken, but there’s something special about Southern fried chicken. Maybe it’s the mix of spices and ingredients in the batter. Or how it’s deep-fried to make the skin extra crispy and delicious. Whatever the reason, Southerners know how to do fried chicken. It has roots in both Scotland and West Africa, but Southern cooks perfected the recipe.

5. New York Bagels

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Rumor has it that New York City and Long Island bagels are unmatched, thanks to the water used to create the dough. Make all the dirty water jokes you want, but by far, enthusiasts crown New York City with the best bagels, and anyone visiting the Tri-State area needs to try some of the local products.

6. Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies
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By now, chocolate chip cookies have made their way to nearly every corner of the world. This cookie with melted chocolate chunks originated in Massachusetts and is one of the most popular cookies in the world. Other countries even call them “American Cookies.”

7. Pulled Pork

Handmade Pulled Pork
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American barbecue is unlike any other, and it relies heavily on pulled pork. Slow-cooked and flavored with tangy, smoky sauce, find any decent barbecue joint in the U.S. for melt-in-your-mouth pulled pork. You’ll be going back for seconds.

8. Cornbread

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In the South, you can find cornbread served with almost any meal. Oven-fresh cornbread, spread with butter, or maybe even some honey, is the perfect pairing with some soul food. The recipe can vary by region, but true Southern cornbread is not sweet. It’s a savory quick bread best baked in a cast-iron skillet to form a golden brown, crispy crust.

9. Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich
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Those outside the U.S. may not understand our love of peanut butter, but it’s been a foundation of American food since it was introduced at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. Have you tried the ubiquitous peanut butter and jelly sandwich (PB&J)? American kids grow up on them. As we like to say, don’t knock it till you try it.

10. Pizza

Eating Pizza
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Yes, we know pizza has its origins in Italy. However, the influx of Italian immigrants to the U.S. brought pizza to our shores. American servicemen tried it during World War II and came back asking for it here. As Americans do, we took the basic pie and added regional twists to it, to suit our tastes and circumstances. There’s New York pizza, Chicago pizza, Detroit pizza, Omaha pizza, St. Louis pizza —the list goes on. Pizza fanatics will tell you the best pizza doesn’t come from a chain restaurant, but from their local pizzeria, which nearly every city has.

11. Buffalo Wings

Buffalo Wings
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Would you believe that the Buffalo Chicken Wing was only invented in 1964? Buffalo Wings — also called hot wings — rose in popularity almost overnight. The original dish calls for deep-fried chicken wings coated in hot sauce and served with a dish of bleu cheese dipping sauce, celery, and carrot sticks on the side — these are to help cool your mouth.

12. S’mores

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No, America isn’t a renowned dessert capital of the world, but we’ve paired graham crackers, roasted marshmallows, and a bar of chocolate to create the best summertime snack. We eat them year-round. S’mores are sweet, messy, and gooey. They are perfection.

13. Biscuits and Gravy

Biscuits and Gravy
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Nothing beats homemade buttermilk biscuits that are light, fluffy, and buttery. Then, all you need is the right kind of sausage gravy to pour over them for what may very well be heaven on earth.

14. French Fries

McDonald's fries
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We know French Fries aren’t an American invention — and probably not French, for that matter. But American fries are different and arguably better than the rest of the world’s fries. We cut our potatoes smaller and thinner, and fry them so they’re crispier. Plus, we add more salt, which makes them so tasty.

15. Burgers

Double cheeseburgers and fries
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What’s great about American burgers is not only the quality of beef but the variety of burgers you’ll find across the country. We’ve capitalized on freedom of choice, especially when it comes to a good, juicy burger. You can even find chicken, salmon, turkey, and veggie burgers with endless variations, no matter your style.

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