The Best Signature Dishes in 13 Countries Around the World
Eat your way around the world with the most beloved, tasty, and time-honored—dishes.
Austria: Wiener schnitzel
When made traditionally, this dish is composed of breaded and deep-fried super-thin slices of veal cutlet, usually served topped with a bit of lemon and parsley, and potatoes or rice on the side. You’ll also find this dish in Germany since a great debate is still alive and well on which nation “officially” created it. Find out the surprising birthplace of 19 of your favorite foods and drinks.
Make sure to plan a detox after your visit to Argentina since your diet will be comprised of one thing and one thing only: meat, meat, and more meat. That’s why it makes sense that the country’s national dish is asado, where families and friends gather to dine on various cuts of grilled meats. Traditionally, you start with the cheapest variety of meat and eat your way to the most expensive. Legend has it asado started in the mid-19th century when the equestrian gaucho industry was booming. Don’t make these common mistakes when you’re cooking steak at home.
China: Peking duck
It’s the most expensive item you can order on the menu at a Chinese restaurant, but in China, it’s one of their most beloved dishes. Here, they glaze a duck with Maltose syrup until it turns brown, then, the skin is dipped in sugar-garlic sauce to finish. The fancy meat is served with sweet bean sauce, spring onions, and Chinese pancakes. Peking duck was traditionally reserved for royals, dating back to the Yuan Dynasty in the 1200s and 1300s, as an imperial dish.
No trip to France is complete without stopping for traditional crepes, either sweet or savory. To make this take on a pancake, the French start with wheat or buckwheat flour and fill it with spreads, Nutella, or jelly for a treat, or ham and cheese, mushrooms, or more for a lunchtime bite. Rumor has it this dish was the product of a culinary mistake by a 14-year-old waiter at the turn of the 19th century; he made a dessert for the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VIII) that went serendipitously wrong. Find out 13 other foods that were created by happy accident.
England: Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding
Truth be told, plenty of iconic dishes can be attributed to the United Kingdom: fish and chips, English breakfast, high tea—you name it. But of the most commonly consumed by locals, roast beef and Yorkshire pudding rank high on the list. You’re probably familiar with roast beef, but how about Yorkshire Pudding? It’s the star side dish, made of a batter comprised of eggs, flour, milk, or water. It became popular in the north of England, as a way to use the fat that dropped from cooking meat.
When the moon hits the sky, like a big pizza pie—that’s Italy’s prized dish. Since the infamous pizza, tomato, and cheese dish originated in the Southern Italy city of Naples, it’s no wonder this dish is renowned in the country—and around the world.
Malaysia: Nasi lemak
This country’s capital, Kuala Lumpur is a melting pot of nationalities and culinary backgrounds, so naturally, it’s filled with endless food markets and options. This makes it hard to pick one stand-alone dish, but for most, nasi lemak is a top choice. Made of rice cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaf, it’s typically wrapped in banana leaves and paired with chili, anchovies, peanuts, and a boiled egg. Its history is tied to the southern and central peninsular Malaysia breakfast. Here are surprisingly healthy breakfast ideas from around the world you’ll want to try tomorrow morning.
Mexico: Mole Sauce
It might seem like a simple topping, but mole sauce actually has more than 100 ingredients. Usually, you’ll notice flavors of chocolate and spice, making it ideal for countless Mexican main dishes, from tacos to enchiladas. The verdict is still out on where it originates from is a battle between two Mexican states—Puebla and Oaxaca.
South Africa: Biltong
For those hoping to sample the local fare of this African nation, wet your whistle and taste this cured meat snack. It’s similar to beef jerky, where the meat is topped with salt and spices and dried, and like in the United States, it’s a popular snack for road trips. This type of meat preservation dates back to the indigenous people of South Africa.
It’s a challenge for sure, but if we have to pinpoint the signature dish of the United States, we’re going with a good ‘ole fashioned hamburger, usually with a side of fries and ketchup. Technically speaking, the humble burger might a dish we brought over from Europe, as it’s tied to the European immigrants in the 1800s who found their way to American soil via the Hamburg Line ships. Find out the crazy trick that ensures perfect burgers every time.
Bosnia & Herzegovina: Ćevapi
Many of the traditions of this Eastern European nation were lost as it recovers from its battle wounds. However, some culinary classics remained, including this dish that dates back to the Ottoman empire. It’s comprised of grilled ground beef kebabs and traditionally served with raw onions, salad, and/or fries.
You might have whipped up this meal in college in a microwave, but if you travel to the Land of the Rising Sun, your taste buds will be stunned by the complex flavors. Plenty of varieties are available, but the most traditional preparation includes wheat noodles in fish or meat broth, mixed in with soy sauce and topped with sliced pork, dried seaweed, and green onions. Don’t miss these 10 strangely wonderful food museums around the world—yep, there’s one for ramen.
Exploring the colorful medina of Marrakech will have you convinced you need a tagine dish to take home. And when you taste the stew of spices, olives, lemons, veggies, and chicken? You’ll start bargaining right away for the recipe. Served with couscous, this is a popular native dish and tourist selection, that’ll warm your belly. History dates this flavorful concoction to early Muslim conquest. Find out 10 healthy and delicious lunch ideas from around the world.