5 Famous Food Origins That Will Blow Your Mind

These culturally-iconic foods didn’t come from the countries you thought!


Cultural Identity in Food

Some countries are so inextricably tied to certain food items that it would seem ludicrous for those foods to originate somewhere totally different. And yet, there are a surprisingly high number of instances where this has definitely happened. Let’s take a look at these cases of mistaken identity and discover five examples of food that actually originated somewhere totally different to where you thought.


1. Churros

So, we hate to break it to you, but Churros, popularly-believed to originate in Spain, may have actually come from China. It’s very possible that the sugary dessert may have been brought over to Spain by the Portuguese after making voyages to China. The theory goes that Churros are an offshoot of YuTiao, a popular fried Chinese bread that bears plenty of similarity to Churros. A staple in places like Hong Kong, YuTiao is usually savory and does not resemble the flavor profile of Churros. 


Churros in Spain originated around 1550 AD

YuTiao in China originated around 1200 AD


2. Ice Cream

You would be forgiven for thinking that Ice Cream was created in Italy, but in fact, it may have accidentally been discovered in Mongolia. The famed land of gelato was likely introduced to ice cream by Marco Polo, who sampled the frozen confectionary treat as Mongolia’s empire was spreading. It is believed that yak milk was stored in containers and then churned as horse riders braved frigid conditions in the Gobi Desert for travel. The end result of this amalgamation of coincidences? Something that resembles ice cream. If it helps, this version of ice cream was likely not much like modern ice cream we know today. 


Ice cream in Italy originated around 1295 AD

Ice cream in Mongolia originated around 1200 AD


3. Fish and Chips

A popular snack in most of the UK, fish and chips is so popular that is was named the national dish of Britain. However, this popular British snack may have actually been introduced by Jewish people fleeing Portugal due to religious persecution. When resettling in Britain, these Jewish refugees introduced the population to a dish called peshkado frito, which is a type of fish battered in light flour and then fried. Potatoes were later paired with this dish. 


Fish and Chips in Britain originated around 1500 AD

Peshkado frito in Portugal originated around 800 AD


4. Croissant

One of France’s most famous pastries that’s enjoyed the world-over, the humble croissant is famed for its flaky, buttery texture. However, this iconic pastry actually traces its roots to Austria. The kipferl is an Austrian pastry that looks very much like a croissant and was developed by monks working in monastic bakeries. The kipferl was made to celebrate Easter.


Croissant in France originated around 1600 AD

Kipferl in Austria originated around 1200 AD


5. Scotch Egg

Hailed as a Scottish picnic tradition, the scotch egg is a hardboiled egg wrapped in ground meat and then fried. The version we know today is claimed to have been created by London store Fortnum & Mason. Later, the Scots Guards that were stationed in British army barracks developed a fondness for scotch eggs and spread the word. However, it is very likely that scotch eggs were inspired by an Indian dish called nargisi kofta. The basic elements are almost identical, with nargisi kofta comprised of a boiled egg, wrapped in ground-up, spiced kofta meat and then fried. 


Scotch egg in UK (Scotland) originated in 1738 AD

Nargisi kofta in India originated in 300 BC


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