16 mouth-watering global dishes Americans don't even know they're missing

Shutterstock/nitsawan katerattanakulChar Kway Teow is a popular noodle dish in Malaysia — one of many foods most Americans are missing out on.
  • The US is home to virtually every type of cuisine, but there are still many international foods most Americans aren’t familiar with.
  • They include poutine from Canada, goulash from Hungary, and mango sticky rice from Thailand.
  • We selected 16 foods from around the world Americans are missing out on.

The United States is home to every type of cuisine under the sun, from Mexican to Mongolian.

But there are still plenty of international foods most Americans haven’t heard of, let alone tried. They include hearty dishes like South African bunny chow and sweet treats like stroopwafels from the Netherlands.

I’ve been to 25 countries, and I drew on my own travel experiences and recommendations from local experts in compiling a list of the best foods that Americans are missing out on. Take it from me – you’ll want to try these delicious dishes when you travel abroad.

Here are 16 foods from around the world we wish they served in America.


Poutine is Canada’s way of making French fries even better.

America’s neighbour to the north has made an immeasurable contribution to the world of French fries. For the uninitiated, poutine is a dish consisting of French fries covered with cheese curds and topped with brown gravy.

You may be able to find poutine in the northeastern US, but it’s most common in Quebec, where it’s become a local symbol of cultural pride.


Tostones are smashed and double-fried plantains eaten throughout the Caribbean.

Tostones are a popular snack throughout the Caribbean and Central America. They’re made from unripe plantains that are fried, smashed, fried again, and salted to savoury perfection.


In Argentina, the alfajor is three desserts in one — cookies, caramel, and chocolate.

Wikimedia Commons

Sweet teeth around the world will appreciate the alfajor, a dessert that’s popular in Argentina and other South American countries. The delicious confection is made with caramel-like dulce de leche sandwiched between two (or three) soft cookies, all of which is then coated with chocolate.

Some varieties of alfajor come with coconut, honey, or jam inside, and a popular modern twist is the three-layered Oreo alfajor.


Feijoada is a black-bean stew that’s a national dish of Brazil.

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Feijoada is a black bean stew containing beef and pork. It’s popular throughout the Portuguese-speaking world, but in Brazil feijoada is a beloved national dish. There, it comes with vegetables like cabbage, kale, okra, and pumpkin, and is usually served with oranges on the side.


Susado de pollo is a staple of Colombian cuisine.

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This traditional Colombian dish of chicken, rice, and potatoes is really all about the sauce – it’s made with chicken stock, tomatoes, garlic, onion, and saffron. Add some yuca, avocado, and cilantro to the mix, and you get an irresistible Colombian staple.


Char kway teow is an iconic street food in Malaysia.

Shutterstock/nitsawan katerattanakul

Char Kway Teow is one of the most popular street foods in Malaysia and Singapore. The dish consists of flat rice noodles stir-fried in soy sauce and mixed with shrimp, chicken, bean sprouts, chives, and loads of Thai chilli peppers. In the Malaysian food haven of Penang, char kway teow comes served on a banana leaf for added aroma.


Beef rendang is a fragrant dish served on special occasions in Indonesia.

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Rendang is considered one of the national foods of Indonesia, and after one bite you’ll know exactly why. The dish is made with tender beef cooked in coconut milk and a paste of many spices including ginger, turmeric, garlic, and lemongrass. Rendang is served with rice and is usually reserved for special occasions, like weddings and holiday feasts.


Mango sticky rice is a sugary Thai dessert mixing rice, mangoes, and coconut milk.

Wikimedia Commons

When it comes to Thai food, many Americans are probably familiar with pad thai, and that’s about it. But Thailand’s cuisine offers some incredible desserts too, like mango sticky rice, which combines sticky rice with coconut milk, palm sugar, and fresh mango slices.

Like much of the best food in Thailand, mango sticky rice is commonly eaten as street food.


Jollof rice with chicken or fish is eaten in Nigeria and several other West African countries.

Flickr/Sisi Jemimah

Jollof rice is one of the most popular dishes throughout West Africa. The Nigerian variety is cooked with tomato and pepper puree, onions, and a liberal dose of curry powder and chilli peppers for a spicy kick. It’s often eaten alongside fried plantains and chicken or fish.


Piri piri chicken from Mozambique has an irresistible spicy sauce.

Facebook/Explorers Kitchen

Fans of spicy food will love piri-piri chicken out of Mozambique. The glaze is made from crushed chilli peppers, garlic, lemon juice, paprika, and butter, and is what gives this popular dish its unforgettable flavour.


Bunny chow from South Africa doesn’t contain rabbit — it’s curry stuffed inside a bread bowl.

Shutterstock/Wesley Lazarus

No one really knows how bunny chow got its name, because it doesn’t contain any rabbit.

All we know is that it’s delicious – the South African dish is essentially a hollowed-out loaf of bread filled with curry, be it chicken, lamb, beef, or veggie. Bunny chow comes in three sizes, quarter-loaf, half-loaf, and full-loaf, and the hollowed-out portion of the bread is used for dipping.


Rogan josh is an Indian favourite featuring lamb and an aromatic blend of spices.

Wikimedia Commons

For lovers of Indian food who want to branch out from tikka masala and samosas, rogan josh is a great next step. The Kashmiri dish consists of slow-cooked lamb in an aromatic gravy flavored with garlic, cloves, bay leaves, fennel, and other spices.

Unlike other Indian foods, rogan josh doesn’t necessarily have to be hot – it’s made with Kashmiri chilli, a relatively mild pepper compared to the ones found in other Indian dishes.


The Dutch eat sweet stroopwafels with their morning coffee.

Eduard Zhukov / Shutterstock

Americans are missing out on one of the tastiest desserts from the Netherlands, the stroopwafel. The recipe is simple – bake two thin pieces of dough on a waffle iron and fill them with caramel syrup.

For an enhanced eating experience, do as the Dutch do: Place your stroopwafel on top of a cup of coffee or tea so the steam can soften the dough and melt the caramel inside.


Churros con chocolate are done right in Spain, where they’re dunked in a thick hot chocolate sauce.

Cabana

Anyone who’s been to an American theme park is probably familiar with churros, but nothing compares to the churros in Spain. There, the fried dough pastries can be found in their natural habitat: covered in cinnamon and sugar and slathered in a thick hot chocolate sauce.


Goulash is a Hungarian stew consisting of meat, potatoes, and a healthy dose of paprika.

Shutterstock/Elzbieta Sekowska

You won’t find goulash served in many American restaurants, and that’s a shame. The traditional Hungarian stew mixes meat with tomato, carrots, celery, and potatoes, and spiced with garlic, peppers, and tons of paprika.

Goulash is a source of pride for Hungarians, and it’s a must-try if you’re ever in Budapest.


Welsh rarebit is an underrated British food — it’s toast slathered in a creamy cheese sauce.

Flickr Creative Commons/Indiana Public Media

Here’s another food that, despite what the name may suggest, doesn’t contain any traces of rabbit. Instead, Welsh rarebit is a simple dish combining toast with a creamy sauce of melted cheddar cheese. The sauce is often mixed with butter, salt, and even mustard and beer.

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