A Food Trope
, this is a speciality of a place or country. It may be Foreign Queasine
, but it's just as likely that a character will fall in love with it at first bite. The well-travelled may introduce it to their family and friends, as will cooks trying to impress. Hilarity may ensue
if they haven't cooked it before.
Some stories use this as part of the plot - if it's unique to a specific restaurant, getting the word out is a sure-fire way of ensuring a business is a success. "Come here! you won't find this anywhere else!"
Examples that are focused on how awful the concoctions are go in Foreign Queasine
- this trope is more about invoking the mystique of the foreign, the rare and/or the exotic.
- All Creatures Great and Small: James Herriot recounted an unusual way of eating Christmas cake in the Yorkshire Dales; with crumbly Wensleydale cheese and a draught of raw whisky.
- Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. In the section on her holiday in Italy, she recounts her experiences with their food. One sequence has her and a friend going to a back-alley pizzeria in Naples to taste their pizza. They immediately order another; her friend says that all other pizza is Ruined Forever.
- In The Last Continent Rincewind is offered a "Meat Pie Floater", a meat pie suspended in thick pea soup with tomato ketchup according to taste (no honestly, it's real! as an Ecksian regional delicacy. Rincewind ponders that all of the "Regional Delicacies" that he's been offered in his travels seem to be the kind of disgusting and inexplicable dishes that someone would only concoct while drunk which are then foisted upon unsuspecting tourists. It's a regional delicacy because no-one else in the world would be crazy enough to eat it.
- In The Hunger Games Peeta is a second-generation professional baker and he expounds on the regional breads in sufficient detail that fans have been able to make them.
- Street Fighter IV: Used in El Fuerte's ending, where he mixes Zangief's and E. Honda's favourite foods, Chankonabe and Borscht, and add chilli peppers and lemon to the mix. The results apparently tasted very bad, as Honda and Zangief's faces turn blue with disgust. Then El Fuerte proclaims the food "tastes so great it sends you straight to heaven!"
- Freshly-Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland: Regional specialties are hard-to-brew but high-selling condiments.
- Kimchi, the generic name for a variety of pickled dishes that usually contain cabbage and onions, plus other vegitables. The pickling brine becomes fermented as it ages.
- Sometimes kimchi brine fizzes like seltzer water. Mmm, cabbage soda pop. Chunky cabbage soda pop.
- In an episode of Mash, Frank sees two Korean men burying a Kimchi pot and thinks they're planting a bomb.
- Can't remember the name, but if you're in Korea, get some larval octopus. Served so fresh it's still alive. It's an affordable delicacy, often served with higher priced multi-course meals (the kind that can feed six people, and are served over the course of two hours). Don't forget to have it with the Koch'ujang.
- Australia and New Zealand
- Pavlova (a large meringue dessert in the shape of a cake with berries and so on)
- Heston Blumenthal's The Fat Duck, offering such things as "Nitro-Scrambled bacon and egg ice cream" and "Salmon poached in liquorice".
- Marmite, the British equivalent of Australia's Vegimite. It's a yeast extract that is a by-product of beer brewing. Of all popular foods, it may be the definitive example of the Love It or Hate It trope.
- Scrumpy, made in the southwest, is a highly alcoholic apple cider. In fact, it's so strong that most pubs no longer serve full-strength scrumpy because people tend to become violently drunk very quickly.
- In west-central England, there is a certain dish made of ground pork, liver, onions and tomatoes formed into meatballs and served in a special sauce. They are called by a name that is also a homophobic slur. The leading brand name that manufactures this dish is Mr. Brains.
- They are called faggots. West-central England has many colourful words used as homophobic slurs but 'faggot' is mostly an American usage.
- North-west England gives the world pie and peas. The pie is usually filled with minced beef and potato, often highly peppered, and the peas are mushy peas; dried peas soaked overnight and boiled to a thick, green, lumpy paste. This is obviously a first cousin of the Australian pie floater.
- The Stottie cake. Battered Mars Bars if you want to believe (generally Southern) caricatures of the region, as well.
- London has pie, mash and liquor. Beef pie with mashed potatoes, and a sauce made from the water used to stew eels (which are also available in pie and mash shops), thickened and coloured an improbable luminous green with parsley. It is surprisingly tasty but you will be hard-pressed to find it in the touristy areas.
- Take a basking shark, behead it, and place the body in a well drained hole in the sand under a pile of rocks to press the fuids out. Let the meat ferment, then cut it into strips and hang it out to dry. Voila! Hákarl!
- The best part: All shark meats begins to smell like ammonia when it breaks down. It's still edible, and it tastes okay—if you can get past the odor. The Hákarl process concntrates the aroma.
- Champ (mashed spuds with spring onions, butter, milk and salt) in Northern Ireland. Irish Stew and the Ulster Fry, too.
- The 1996 movie Big Night revolves around the limited palates and opinions of 1950s Americans towards authentic Italian food. (If it didn't have marinara sauce, it wasn't thought to be authentically Italian.) The timballo — called a timpano in the movie — in the third act is a thing of beauty.
- Lutefisk — wind-dried cod soaked in lye. Yummy.
- Denmark has "smřrrebrřd", which directly translates to "sandwich", but means a thin slice of rye bread richly topped with delicacies like prawns and mayo, gravlax and mustard sauce or roast beef with horseradish.
- Swedish meatballs, that is lightly spiced meatballs served with mashed potatoes, gravy, lingonberry (or cowberry, as it is properly called) jam and pickled cucumber. If you don't live in or near Sweden, authentic Swedish meatballs are best experienced at an IKEA near you.
- Haggis, of course. The unspeakable bits of a sheep mixed with oatmeal and pepper, stuffed into the sheep's stomach ('paunch') and boiled.
- North America
- Poutine (fries with gravy and cheese curds) in Canada.
- Donuts and coffee aren't strictly Canadian, but no true Canadian can say that they've never heard of Tim Hortons.
- Mexican food. Can obviously be found in Mexico, but very good authentic Mexican food can also be found in American cities near the Mexican border, e.g. San Diego, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Phoenix.
- Deep dish pizzas in Chicago.
- Thin crust pizzas in New York City.
- Philly CheeseSteak and soft pretzel.
- People from North Jersey will argue with their neighbors in New York about thin-crust pizza, and folks from South Jersey will argue with Philadelphians about cheesesteaks and pretzels, but one thing all of New Jersey will defend against all comers—and win!—is the integrity of New Jersey hot dogs and New Jersey diner food. Also saltwater taffy, but nobody's arguing with Atlantic City about that.
- Applejack, a North American cousin to Scrumpy, is an extremely alcoholic variety of apple cider produced by freezing the water out of normal cider steps at a time, leaving the alcoholic juice behind. This turns a drink with less than 10% alcohol by volume into a 50% ABV monster. Fun Fact: During the colonial period of the USA's history, road construction crews in New Jersey were paid in Applejack, which rose to its alternative nickname, "Jersey Lightning."
- From Michigan's Upper Peninsula: Fudge, especially the Mackinac Island variety; and pasties, which originated with Cornish immigrants and were modified by Finnish immigrants.
- Detroit has the coney dog (a hotdog topped with mustard, onion (usually raw and white) and all-beef chili), as well as its form of deep-dish pizza (different from Chicago in the layering of bread, sauce and cheese—it's less pie-like—and the square shape—from an industrial-parts tray!).
- In California, many Mexican restaurants serve Carne Asada Fries, which is basically the insides of a steak burrito served over fries.
- I welcome all out-of-towners with Cincinnati Chili, often making a big deal out of it. Many stories have been born in the taking of friends to try it. (It features cocoa as a major ingredient.)
- Tex-Mex: As the name indicates, this originated among Mexicans and Americans living in Texas. Common dishes include chili-con-carne, fajitas, burritos/chimichangas, tamales, refried beans, "Spanish" rice, and anything made with crispy corn tortillas (including tortilla chips) and shredded cheese — tacos, tostadas, nachos, etc. Although many restaurants outside of Mexico call themselves "Mexican" restaurants, if they offer the above dishes — especially as combo plates — they're probably more accurately described as Tex-Mex.
- The origins of Tex-Mex cuisine stemmed from the need for ranchers to quickly feed large numbers of employees every day.
- Because they follow updated versions of the menus and cooking methods of those old ranches, modern Mexican fast food restaurants are actually Tex-Mex restaurants.
- San Diego, California lays claim to being the home of the fish taco thanks to a Tex-Mex chain called Rubio's.
- Chop suey (the Chinese term for random leftovers) was actually popularized in Chinese restaurants in San Francisco in the late 19th century. Restaurants in China don't serve chop suey because... well, because it's random leftovers.
- "Orange chicken," typically characterized as Chinese cuisine, was invented in Hawaii by the fast-food chain Panda Express.
- South America