Popular Foods Abroad That Are Hard To Find In The US

Popular Foods Abroad That Are Hard To Find In The US

Have you ever traveled abroad and tried a snack food or a dish that you fell in love with, only to realize you can’t find it back home? Well, I perused the Community and rounded up this list of international foods that American travelers wish they could find state-side (and I added a bunch of my own responses, too!).


“Khatchapuri. It’s a Georgian delicacy that is basically a bread boat filled with bubbly cheese. It’s served straight from the oven, so you can rip off pieces of bread and dip them in the melted cheese.”


“Döner kebab. There are stands on virtually every block in Berlin. Why don’t I see them everywhere in the US? They’re so delicious and the perfect cheap eat.”


“Suppli. Maybe you’ve heard of arancini, which are Italian fried rice balls. Well, supplì are the Roman version. The name of this popular street food means ‘surprise’ because these delectable fried creations can be filled with anything from risotto in tomato sauce to rice with chicken broth, mozzarella, and Parmesan. They’re not commonly found in the US, but they’re one of the most delicious things you can do to rice, and I would really love for them to become a comfort food staple like mozzarella sticks or onion rings.”


“Mojama, which is a type of tuna that is cured in sea salt, then thinly sliced like gravlax. I fell in love with this dish in Spain and Italy but have only come across it once or twice in the US. It tastes almost like a combination of smoked salmon and prosciutto, and it’s so delicious.”


“Käsespätzle, which is basically German mac ‘n’ cheese but with spaetzle (pasta-like dumplings) instead of macaroni. It’s covered with caramelized onions and it’s sooo good.”


“Thai Oyster Omelette called Hoi thod. I tried this crispy Thai-style omelet topped with oysters in Bangkok’s Chinatown and it was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. I’ve never seen it in the US, even when I lived in NYC and sought out this delicacy.”


“Pastel de nata, a Portuguese egg custard tart dusted with cinnamon or sugar in a flaky, buttery crust. I absolutely fell in love with these little pastries while in Portugal, where they are one of the most iconic desserts. You can track them down where I live in New York City, but the options are few and far in between. I wish they were more popular because they are such a treat.”


“Sabich sandwiches. Falafel, kebab, and shawarma get all the hype here in the US, but sabich is super underrated and hard to find. It’s a pita sandwich with juicy, fried eggplant, hummus, and boiled egg, and together it tastes like way more than the sum of its parts.”


“Orange Fanta in Europe is just so much better than the US version. There is a preservative used in the US soda meant to keep the color stable, which is outlawed in Europe. Because of this, the European version is made differently. It tastes like fresh, carbonated orange juice. I make sure to get some on every trip across the Atlantic!”


“Salmorejo. You’ve probably heard of gazpacho, but have you heard of its close cousin, Salmorejo? This tomato-based, chilled soup is popular in the south of Spain. Because it’s blended with bread, it’s both thicker and creamier than gazpacho. It’s so delicious and so refreshing on a hot day, but I’ve hardly ever come across it state-side.”


“Okonomiyaki, which are Japanese cabbage pancakes. They are savory, crispy, and so good. I cook it for American friends, and they always love this dish immediately. You can find okonomiyaki occasionally, but I think (and hope) it’s going to be the next Japanese food to really take off in popularity in the US.”


“Arepas! In theory they’re easy to make, but I still haven’t been able to find anything that matches the taste and texture of those I had almost daily in Venezuela.”


“Meat pie. Not pot pies, not pasties, not a turnover, but real, hand-held meat pie with a bottom crust and a top crust. And pork with skin on it. I never understand why every meat processor and butcher removes the skin. It’s just not the same.”


“Tahdig, an Iranian dish that literally means ‘bottom of the pan.’ It’s essentially a large circle of crunchy, fried basmati rice. It tastes like heaven for rice lovers, and it should be way more popular in the US.”


“Icelandic Hot Dogs (aka pylsa) Of course, it’s not hard to find a hot dog in the US, but no ballpark frank, New York City dirty water dog, or Chicago-style hot dog compares to the Icelandic pylsa. It blows away every other hot dog I’ve ever tried. Made from a trio of beef, pork, and (mostly) lamb, it’s a super-tender and high-quality sausage enveloped by a crisp casing. And the garnishes: raw white and crispy fried onions, ketchup, sweet brown mustard, and a tangy caper rémoulade. The US could really take a page out of Iceland’s book when it comes to hot dogs.”


“Tafelspitz. This Austrian boiled beef dish was one of the best things I ate in Vienna, and I haven’t been able to find it anywhere in the US so far.”


“Zumo de coco. I discovered this creamy and rich coconut juice thickened with little pieces of fresh coconut meat in Barcelona, and I have yet to find it anywhere else. In the US, Vita Coco’s pressed coconut water or Trader Joes’ coconut smoothie are the closest alternatives I’ve found, but it’s still nothing like the Spanish stuff.”


“English bacon. I don’t know why it’s different, but the taste is incomparable. It isn’t the same as US bacon, ham or even Canadian bacon. It’s just so much better.”


“Any gelato from Italy. There’s just something about it. You can order water flavored gelato and it’s still going to be better than gelato anywhere else.”


“Spanish ham croquettes. Sure, you can find them from time to time at the occasional tapas restaurant in the US, but it blows my mind that this comfort food isn’t so much more popular. It’s basically a crispy, deep fried ball of mashed potatoes speckled with Iberian ham. I’ve tried to track down a frozen grocery store version so I can have them on hand, but I have never been successful!”


“Currywurst, which is a German dish of sausage and french fries topped with ketchup and curry powder. It shocks me that it hasn’t taken off in popularity all over the US.”


“I wish Indonesian food, in general, was more popular in the US, but I specifically crave two dishes: Gado gado (a big Indonesian salad with vegetables, hard-boiled egg, and tempeh in a rich and creamy peanut sauce) and nasi goreng (Indonesian fried rice). I live in New York City, where there’s no shortage of global cuisine, but Indonesian food is still really difficult to come by. After traveling to Indonesia, I fell in love with the flavors and wish I could find more authentic versions of my favorite dishes stateside.”


“Hainanese chicken rice. It’s very popular in Southeast Asia. In New York City, there are a handful of restaurants where you can find this dish, but it’s not very common. I would think it would be hugely popular, given how universally tasty, simple, and affordable it is.”


“Arroz de marisco, which is a Portuguese dish made with rice loaded with all different kinds of seafood. Most people have heard of paella, but few people have tried this equally delicious recipe.”


“Japanese egg salad sandwiches. There’s just something about it that tastes so much more delicious than any egg salad in the US. The Japanese version is rich with a strong yolk flavor and the perfect amount of tanginess. And to top it all off, it’s served on this crustless, pillowy white bread. When I was in Tokyo I bought one every single morning for about $2 from 7-Eleven.”


“In Sicily, particularly in Palermo they make panelle, which is a crispy fritters made from chickpea flour. It’s a popular Sicilian street food, but I haven’t had anything close to it in the US.”


“Real Swiss butter. It’s this delicacy made from cows that graze at high elevations in the Alps. The butter from the summer months is wonderful — dark yellow or even orange in color. Nothing like the stuff you buy in the US.”

Do you have one to add? Tell me in the comments!