It may come as a shock, but the UK public is obsessed with food. British food has a reputation as being a stodgy, greasy, bland accompaniment to beer — or nameless, boiled, blobby things served at school dinners (the possible exception being curries introduced by the large South Asian population). The past 10 or 15 years have greatly changed what's available to eat here, however, and the diversity of people's diets is very much reflected in, and abetted by, the supermarkets.
'Culinary Ambassadors' on Serious Eats
In the old days, fasting before Easter was part of the Swedish tradition. To be able to survive fasting during a time of year when Sweden is coldest, dark, and snowy, it was important to stock up on calories. One way of doing this was through a pastry called the semla, also called "fastlagsbulle." It had everything required for a food item whose main purpose was to help us efficiently store calories: white flour, plenty of sugar, and plenty of fat.
Banana ketchup is one of the greatest examples of the Philippines' enthusiasm for adopting foreign ingredients and adding its own tropical flair. An analogue to tomato ketchup, banana ketchup is made from mashed bananas, vinegar, sugar, and spices and is dyed red to mimic tomato ketchup (and confuse first-generation Filipino-Americans who unwittingly dip their fries in this strange banana concoction).
Puerto Rico celebrates the best holidays in the world — and the longest stretch, too. Our holiday season starts right after Thanksgiving and lasts until the middle of January with the Fiestas de San Sebastián. Locally, we call them Navidades, and, to me, it's the best time of the year to visit Puerto Rico.
This savory snack traditionally prepared in the south of France is made by mixing together a thin batter of chickpea flour, water, olive oil, and salt, all ladled onto a hot cast iron plate (ranging from dinner-plate size to more than a meter in diameter), where it is spread to the edges much like a crépe. It's then grilled in an oven (wood-fired being the preference) for 20 to 30 minutes, where it develops a nicely charred crust, and is then served by cutting it into strips.
A 51¢ (10,000 VND) breakfast banh mi consists of grilled pork, fried egg, sautéed onions, cucumbers, pickled carrots & radish, and cilantro. A spread of pate with a squirt of sweet chili sauce and soy sauce season everything inside. Pork is grilled next to the cart and eggs are fried to order. The fresh ingredients are all assembled in a light crusty Vietnamese baguette right in front of your eyes.
Most breakfast foods in South India are eaten hot and are pretty filling — to get your day off to a good start. They're high in carbohydrates, like most breakfast foods in the world, but are usually savory rather than sweet. They're all delicious, and many of them are pretty healthy, too. Here are some of the most common.
A typical breakfast in Rome is usually cappuccino e cornetto. No need to explain what a cappuccino is, but a cornetto is a sweet croissant, sometimes glazed on top.
Greeks tend to need a breakfast that will jumpstart their day. Serious coffee is in order. Opening your bleary eyes after a long night out to see a briki, the typical Greek bronze coffee maker, bubbling away on the stove is a glorious sight. Along with their small but potent coffees, Greeks like to have a small biscuit, a koulouraki or, even better, a foinikaki, a Phoenician biscuit made from honey, orange juice, and flour.
Perhaps the most iconic breakfast in Taiwan is 燒餅油條 (shao bing you tiao) combined with soy milk. The first being the brilliant combination of a baked pocket of dough and a fried cruller prepared in ammonia bicarbonate (yum), and the latter being, well, milk from soybeans.
Kaya toast is ubiquitous in Singapore and can be found in hawker centres, kopitiams (coffee shops), and shopping malls. Kaya is essentially a coconut jam—coconut milk cooked with eggs to make a thick, luscious custard. Sometimes it's flavoured with pandan (the "vanilla" of Southeast Asia), which gives it an aromatic fragrance and unmistakable taste.
SE'r Foodicles reports: "Silogs are probably the most iconic breakfast in the Philippines. Silog is two words combined: sinangag (garlic fried rice) and itlog (egg). The fun part of the dish is the protein...."
Traditional French breakfast fare includes a tartine — half a split, buttered baguette with your choice of conserves (jams) to dip in your very own bowl of café au lait or chocolat chaude (hot chocolate). Croissants are not an everyday item, but for those not counting calories, you'll see them at the table as well. Dipping is not only reserved for kids. Fully grown adults do it, too (it's not uncommon to see men in business suits dip the corner of a croissant into their coffee). Let's not forget the obligatory glass of juice (orange or multi-fruits seem to be preferred by most) and a quick expresso (espresso) to prepare an eater for the day.
Any traveler who visited Japan may have encountered a "traditional" Japanese breakfast at a hotel. It may have a piece of grilled fish, miso soup, rice, onsen tamago, nori, and Japanese pickles. But an everyday breakfast is more like this: A fluffy, thick toast with butter, ham and eggs and a green salad.
If all-purpose sauce were alive, it would certainly roll with a hipster crew because it is the most ironic of Filipino condiments. With a name like "all-purpose," you'd expect it to be capable of everything from topping ice cream to pre-treating stains, but in most Filipino households, all-purpose sauce serves only one purpose: to accompany lechon.
Culinary Ambassador ManuelSteiner: "When, 200 years ago, a Bavarian king held a luscious wedding, little did he know he would start a tradition that is one of Germany's biggest tourist attractions — the Oktoberfest. Today, it is less about royalty and more about, let's face it, beer. But even the hardiest German or most experienced fest tourist will need something to go with the specially brewed (and slightly stronger) festival beer. So if you want to build a solid foundation in your stomach, or if you want to be prepared for when the inebriated cravings set it, here is a quick run-down of what is and what may not be worth eating at the Munich Oktoberfest...."
The pretzels are covered in poppy seeds on at least one side and come strung on a wire depending on how many the customer orders (whether it's a meal or not also depends on how many the customer orders).
Brazil is a huge country; as such, its cuisine varies a lot from region to region. Pastel, however, can be found pretty much all over the country: The deep-fried, crisp pastry can be filled with anything, reflecting local cuisines and tastes. The most popular fillings tend to be cheese, ground beef, heart of palm, and shrimp.
In addition to some more general food-culture topics that our Culinary Ambassadors have been sharing, we also asked them if they'd recommend some great locals-only spots to eat for any SE'rs who might be visiting the country or region in question. Here, MadelynRodriguez three spots in Puerto Rico.
Rösti (or roesti), made from coarsely ground potatoes, is definitely a Swiss dish, but there as many variations as there are cantons in Switzerland. The Restaurant Anker Bern in Bern lists nearly 30 different versions on its menu. The main difference lies in whether to use raw or cooked potatoes, as well as in what is added to the potatoes.