Delicacies and their surprising origins
October 8, 2018 | 6:56 PM
by Times News Service

Every country boasts culinary dishes and flavours that are strongly associated with its people and culture. Just names of iconic seasoning and dishes such as Cajun, Curry, Pho, and Tacos can lead us to conjure images of their supposed origins. But how many do we know the real origin stories of? Time to start travelling from city to city, on a gastronomic quest.

Delectably Scottish

Chicken Tikka Masala: While Chicken Tikka Masala intuitively appears to be from the Indian subcontinent, Glasgow has been laying claim to the dish for a while now. There has even been talk of giving Glasgow the EU Protected Designation of Origin status for its role in the creation of Britain’s favourite curry.

Belgian Wonder

French Fries: Contrary to what the name of this fried indulgence suggests, French fries may not even be French. It is said to have originated in Belgium and is part of the nation’s pop-culture — from art to music and advertising. Apart from the fries, visit Brussels, Belgium to indulge in some of the world’s finest waffles.

Mexican Magic

Caesar Salad: Here is a surprise — the Caesar salad has little or nothing to do with the Roman emperor and namesake ‘Julius Caesar’. According to contemporary gastronomic lore, the salad was originally concocted in Mexico by an Italian immigrant — Caesar Cardini. Visit Mexico City to sample this delicious but healthy dish.

American Special

Spaghetti and Meatballs: While meatballs are decidedly Italian, the meatball and spaghetti combination was invented in the US. In fact, the US even celebrates National Meatball Day, every 9th of March. Visit Chicago to try the city’s version of this pasta-based comfort food.

Simply South East Asian

Sushi: For years, a version of the sushi has been a staple across South East Asia — Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam. Its earliest form is a dish that is today known as ‘narezushi’. Visit Hanoi, Vietnam for a taste.

Greek Gastronomy

Cheesecake: It may be hard to believe, but the cheesecake did not originate in New York City. It was said to have been created by the Greeks and served to athletes during the first Olympic Games in 776 BC. A trip to Athens must also include a taste of their Souvlaki (grilled meat and vegetables).

Austrian Baked Goodness

Croissant: Here is yet another seemingly French delicacy, which is said to have its roots in Austria. Versions of this crescent-shaped bread have been prepared in Austria since the Renaissance period.

Arizonian Marvel

Chimichanga: Everyone, including comic book hero Deadpool loves these deep-fried burritos that are considered to be part of the Mexican cuisine. But as it happens, the dish actually hails from Southwestern US, and is also extremely fun to say out loud. Though popularly referred to as ‘Tex-Mex’, the roll has its roots in Tucson, Arizona. Fly to Tucson for a taste of this tortilla-based dish.

Iranian Sugar-Rush

Jalebi: “What? That’s unbelievable!”, you say. “The sweet swirls of Jalebi are not from India?” Yet, it’s true. Jalebis or ‘zalibiya’ (as it’s called in Persian) was originally brought to India by Iranians during an invasion. Don’t wait anymore to dig into this sinful confection at some of the authentic Iranian bazaars.

More Chinese than Thai

Pad Thai: This dish of chewy, stir-fried rice noodles with vegetables, sprouts and egg is actually Chinese! The Thai government popularised this ‘Pad Thai’ recipe in 1930s to improve the nutrition of its people, during an economic slump. Today, even though it’s the national dish of Thailand, even the Thai tend to refer to it as a Chinese dish! Ask for ‘Char kway teow’ when you visit China to try the original recipe.

Innately Indian

Koshary: When you hear ‘Koshary’, you automatically think ‘Egypt’. Though it’s a staple Egyptian street-food, many believe that Koshary is derived from “khichri”, which refers to an Indian one-pot-meal of lentils and rice. Don’t wait anymore to dig into this comfort food, which dates back to the time of British Colonisation of India, at some of the authentic restaurants in Delhi. — [email protected]m

Subscribe to our newsletter and be the first to know all the latest news