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"Without my stinky ancestors, we'd still be eating ham steak with pineapple ring"
Anthony Bourdain

The Flanderization of a single culture's cooking into a few recognizable tidbits. Handy for those who can't be bothered to do the research and whose experience with the cuisine in question is limited to visiting a few restaurants.

Of course, the cuisine of the writer's native country tends to get filled in a bit more. With local media, internal geographic regions and ethnicities may receive similar treatment.

Americans' ideas of the cuisines of many cultures were originally based on the foods associated with immigrants from those countries, which is often different from what people actually ate back in the old country due to different ingredients being available and/or cheap. Not to mention immigrant restaurant owners catering to American tastes, which has resulted in the creation of entire genres of food (Chinese-American, Tex-Mex, etc) which are actually foreign to the countries with which they are associated.

Sister Trope to Foreign Queasine.

Examples by Culture


  • Africa: I'm a Humanitarian, worms. "Bushmeat". Yams. Or nothing at all. In reality, of course, Africans eat quite a lot of different foods.
    • North Africa gets a slightly better press - but then, they had the French to help. Couscous, roasted vegetables, lamb ... that yummy tea with mint in it.
      • Countries influenced by Spain are also popular. Morocco actually has a bustling tourism industry based around eating, and Mediterranean hotels will serve at least one dish labeled "Moroccan" during every meal.
  • American: Hamburgers, hot dogs, and fast food all around. Ironically, the "all-American" hamburgers and hot dogs are of German origin, while truly American foods are associated with European countries, for example, potatoes and Ireland.
    • Deep South: Grits, black-eyed peas, and the occasional Appalachian moonshine. Meat is generally fresh from the hog, particularly ham or bacon. Also, crawfish and gumbo if you're stopping by The Big Easy.
    • New England: A general surfeit of fish and other seafood, especially cod. Don't fuhget tha chowdah.
    • Pennsylvania is actually flavored by the Pennsylvania Dutch (who are actually German, It's a long story) but thanks to Philadelphia all we get is cheesesteaks and pretzels (the soft kind). Pennsylvania is known for its unusual food slang such as "chipped ham" for thinly sliced ham, "sweet rolls" and "sticky buns" for glazed pastries, "lunchmeat" for cold cuts, and referring to supper as "dinner". And we can't forget about pot pie. In Pennsylvania, "pot pie" refers to a stew-like dish with squares of cooked simple doug mixed in, what everyone else calls "pot pies" are called "meat pies".
    • Midwest: Dairy products and hamburgers. Immigrant cuisine also tends to appear more frequently, correlated directly to repulsiveness, with particular mention going to Minnesotan/Norwegian lutefisk. Expect the frequent appearance of hotdish/casserole in the upper Great Lakes area.
      • Don't forget bars. Of all kinds. Peanut butter, lemon, chocolate chip, anything like that.
      • Super-flat St. Louis-style pizza is some sort of national joke, even though most major pizza chains now carry similar thin-crust pizza.
    • New Orleans:New Orleans food will be called "Cajun," and automatically assumed to be super-spicy. Actual Cajun cuisine is from Acadiana, west of New Orleans, and isn't usually very spicy straight out of the pot; you'll need to add the requisite dose of Tabasco for that. New Orleans cuisine is properly called "Creole." And for the record: Blackened ≠ Burnt. Write it down if you need to.
    • Pacific Northwest - Asian fusion, massive amounts of fish, and gallons of coffee. (This applies to the Canadan portion of the region as well.)
      • Truth in Television: fits the bigger city areas pretty well; apples, pears, cherries, organic beef and exotic meat animals may be used for Pacific Northwest settings that aren't in the coastal cities.
    • California - Fusion cuisine characterized by extreme artiness, such as "orange-scented carnitas with blackberry salsa and creme fraiche remoulade"; fresh vegetable dishes. Avocado.
    • Texas - a lot of food associated with the Deep South, plus "Tex-Mex" and lots of barbecue. Steaks. Giant steaks.
    • New York - deli food, bagels, and baked ziti. Extremely greasy yet inexplicably delicious thin-crust pizza is somehow associated with Brooklyn.
      • Should a New Yorker and a Chicagoan ever meet, they will argue endlessly about pizza, claiming that their own city makes the best and the other city makes something that can't rightly be called pizza.
    • Maryland - crab cakes.
      • Maryland panhandle - Same as Pennsylvania. Or doesn't exist.
    • Colorado, either wild game (venison, and buffalo especially) or if in Boulder hippie granola and tofu
    • Southwest - see Mexican.
  • Australian: Somewhat like Britain, but with Vegemite and beer. Emphasis on the beer. Also "shrimp on the barbie", though most real Australians use the term "prawn".
    • Sausage sizzles, kebabs (especially at 3 in the morning), spag bol and fish and chips.
  • Austrian: Similar to Germany, but add Wiener Schnitzel, apple strudel, and maybe Sachertorte. If you're really lucky, coffeehouses will be a setting.
  • British: Considered The Scrappy of cuisines by some Western sources, with stuff like blood pudding, mushy peas, warm beer, haggis (if you include the Scots), and immature jokes about spotted dick. Oh, and tea. Lots of tea. A more specific breakdown goes;
    • English: Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding (the French actually nickname them 'les rosbifs'), scones to go with the Spot of Tea, and fish and chips. The beer should actually be "cellar temperature" - i.e. kept in the cold, but not refrigerated.

 Craig Kilborn: Why does British food suck?

John Cleese: We had an Empire to run!

    • Scottish: There's the perception that they deep-fry everything. They do; don't make the mistake of asking for a pie and chips in a Scottish takeaway. They also have porridge, haggis and shortbread. Whisky should always be spelled that way. Do not ever suggest it isn't better than Irish whiskey.
    • Welsh: Lamb, and of course Welsh rarebit (more authentically Welsh rabbit, which is a joke and makes more sense) A thick sauce of cheese, beer and mustard, spread on toast and browned under the grill. Lesser known are "laver" (a type of seaweed, often used to make "laver bread") and cawl (a type of meat and vegetable stew, also used as the modern Welsh word for "soup").
  • Canadian: Back bacon, maple syrup, maple-y back bacon, basically anything else with maple syrup in, beer, and poutine.
    • Some Truth in Television, as many Canadians do love maple syrup on just about anything.
    • Poutine is depicted as a national cuisine although it's actually a very regional dish specific to Québec. The poutine available elsewhere in the country is a fast-food variant made with processed cheese and instant gravy.
      • That isn't to say that it isn't delicious.
    • And according to Weird Al, they all live on donuts and moose meat.
  • Chinese: Lots of noodles, rice, vegetables and monosodium glutamate, with some meat thrown in every now and then. (No, it is not dog.) They eat it with those funny-looking chopsticks that few Westerners can figure out.
    • Egg rolls! And "fortune cookies" in restaurants (which aren't Chinese).
    • The most persistent myth is that all Chinese food is the same, despite being a huge (and diverse) country in both population and size. The stuff you get in Chinese restaurants is mostly Cantonese, with a bit of Szechuan and Hunan. Aside from that, the takeout food will always be presented as the genuine article. It does not remotely resemble true Chinese cuisine.
    • Of course, to to drink, there is plenty of tea.
  • Dutch: Cheese. They might also have "special brownies."

  Bill Bailey: Dutch food - very bland. "You wanna toashtie? We got ham toastie, cheese toastie... cheese and ham toastie... you want a bit of onion?? Oho, you crazy man!"

    • Very big on fries, covered in all sorts of stuff, of which mayonnaise is the least bizarre.
    • Everything else is mashed together and heated in a single pot.
    • Grolsch (and Heineken) beer
      • Even though the Netherlands has a wide variety of beers and the above mentioned aren't particularly popular compared to Amstel or Hertog Jan.
  • French: Considered the 'king of cuisines' by the culinary world's version of artistes (with all the pretentiousness that comes with it). Tends to involve lots of baguettes, and wines and cheeses with funny names. And snails (called 'escargot' over there). And frogs. And the eponymous fries (which are, in France, associated with Belgium) and toast (unknown in France as such[1]). Any French restaurant will invariably be called Chez Something or Other and be full of happy dining couples; the waiter will be a condescending jerk. At least one of two things will happen: the Fish Out of Water American tourist struggles with the unfamiliar pronunciation, food and dining etiquette; and when the bill comes, it will be immense.
  • German: Beer, sausages, sauerkraut, and beer. Sauerkraut is actually more popular in Russia (called schi there) and Poland, but is strongly associated with Germany. Everything will be extremely heavy and fattening, and so will the people eating it. Expect massive steins being served by buxom maidens to men in lederhosen. Also beer and Schnaps.
    • In Bavaria, beer will only ever be served in 1 liter "Maß" glasses, while in Cologne, they only ever drink "Kölsch" 1/5 liter glasses. There seems to be at least some Truth in Television to that one.
  • Greek: Other than gyros, tends to get confused with Italian, even though it's closer to Middle Eastern. Souvlaki, moussaka and spanakopita will be heard of, but not elaborated upon. Also, olives, yogurt and goat's cheese. Baklava. Kebabs. To drink there is ouzo.
    • And avgolemono. And lots of lamb. Contrary to popular opinion, falafel is not Greek.
  • Hungarian: Goulash, goulash, goulash. Which actually applies to an entirely different food; the version Americans (and even other Europeans) know is The Theme Park Version and is a stew, not a soup. Paprika colours everything red. If there is wine, it will be Tokaji.
    • Goulash (or, in Hungarian, gulyasleves) isn't eaten that often. More popular staple foods would be Langos (sort of a deep-fried pizza with sour cream) or anything with straight-up lard, mostly plain bread. Sour cherries predominate in desserts.
  • Irish: Potatoes and Guinness. Also known for stew.
    • And whiskey (but not whisky; see above).
      • Corned beef and cabbage, contrary to American belief are actually Irish-American staples, due to the poor Irish immigrants flocking to Jewish delis to eat (bacon and cabbage is much more traditional in Ireland itself.)
  • Indian: Tends to be so spicy it burns a hole in the diner's guts (somewhat Truth in Television). Or curry. Lots and lots of curry. British TV tends to take a more charitable view of Indian food since it's now a staple food over there. And even then, it's usually the generic version of North-West Indian food seen in restaurants.
  • Italian: Pasta, pasta, and more pasta. Sometimes even pizza, too, if that isn't thrown into American cuisine instead. Macaroni. Standard dishes also include spaghetti with meatballs and its close relative, spaghetti alla bolognese (crumbled ground beef added to the tomato sauce --which, as a bit of trivia, are considered near-sacrilegious by the people who actually live in Bologna). Like the French, Italians love wine, and can frequently be seen holding tiny cups of ridiculously strong espresso.
  • Japanese: Like Chinese, except with raw fish!
  • Korean: Mostly consists of barbecue and kimchi. Occasionally, the odd dog soup joke is thrown around, just for the shock value. Also can be real spicy.
  • Mexican: Most people outside of Mexico think of this as tacos and burritos, but that's really just The Theme Park Version of real Mexican cuisine. Also tends to be loaded with chili peppers. Also beans. And tequila.
    • Spanish: Is the same as Mexican. If some cursory research has been done, paella, chorizo or gazpacho might be mentioned. For some strange reason, tapas are thought of as classy food for the intellectual hipster.
  • Middle Eastern: Either gets lumped in with Indian food or consists of barely edible kebabs made from bits of animal that even dogs won't eat. If you got lucky and your writer has actually been to the Middle East, there will be falafel, hummus (which is becoming more popular in the US), tabbouleh, and pita bread. Turkish coffee may make an appearance (note: do not discuss the appropriateness of its name).
    • Also, never make any assertions about the origins of baklava, sweet mint tea, the fried dough dessert the Greeks call loukoumades, that thing Arabs call shawerma, or any number of other dishes. Talk about Misplaced Nationalism...
    • Then again, "falafel" is an inherently funny word, which ups its chances of being namedropped in media, whether the writer in question has eaten it or not.
    • Arab, Iranian and even Afghan food will not be distinguished; in reality they are quite different and it's debatable whether the last two countries count as Middle Eastern at all.
    • In the Middle East, everyone has stereotypes of each other's food:
      • Lebanese: The French of the Middle East, they make almost everything better than everyone else in the region and they know it. Fortunately, they aren't quite as stuck-up (years of being everybody else's political chewtoy will do that to you), and Lebanese restaurants are at least as likely to be fast-food places than high-class. Noted for their fondness for garlic, lemon, and raw meat.
      • Syrian: Like Lebanese, but less refined and perhaps a bit more robust/heartier. Actually, this is the stereotype of Syria in general.
      • Saudi/Gulf: Meat. Fatty, roasted meat. Especially camel. Especially, especially camel hump (which is mostly fat). Served in large portions with ungodly amounts of rice. Or in other words, kabsa.
      • Jordanian: Mansaf. That's it.
      • Israeli: Do not discuss Israeli cuisine anywhere in the Middle East that isn't Israel. They will characterize Israeli cuisine the same way Mark Twain once characterized a manuscript: both original and good, but what's originally Israeli is terrible, and what's good is stolen! From us! For their part, Israelis would accept that a lot of their cuisine is borrowed, but would dispute their original creations are all that bad. It is true, however, that "Israeli cuisine" in (e.g.) America means "Middle Eastern, but prepared by Jews".
      • Yemeni: Usually, gets blank stares, although some might get that it's spicy right. Writers who have done the research comment on its diversity, and often swear that the Yemeni kitchen is better than the Lebanese.
      • Iraqi: Like their neighbors, but not as good.
      • Iranian: Pilaf, lavash, lamb, and thick omelets. If the writers know what they're talking about, they'll mention an obsession with saffron and roses.
      • Turkish: Döner kebab and lots of stuff with phyllo dough. Also, Turkish coffee.
      • Egyptian: Foul medemmes (slow-cooked fava beans, eaten for breakfast), bread, koshary, and excessive pride over falafel.
      • Afghan: Goat? Maybe? (It's actually rather like Pakistani.)
  • Polish: Sausages may appear unless they're already taken by Germans. Possibly vodka ... unless taken by Russians. No, this is not a metaphor for Poland's bloody history.
    • Outside of Hollywood, bigos may appear -- a kind of a sauerkraut/sausage stew. Pierogi will appear if you're lucky. Otherwise, expect the usual stereotypes of Poles drinking a lot and eating potatoes and kasza (buckwheat groats).
  • Russian: Other than vodka and borscht, Hollywood doesn't know much about Russian food. Caviar might be mentioned. Whatever the case, it will be of poor quality and probably served in massive canteens, as if it were still Soviet days.
    • And then, even the borscht is actually Ukrainian.
      • Not according to half-a-dozen other nations who claim they invented it.
    • And vodka was invented by the Poles.
      • Never ever mention this if you want to escape Internet Backdraft. Or remain in a sound mind, because in Real Life such discussions inevitably end up in a drinking competition. And both Poles and Russians consider Americans incredible lightweights -- with some basis in reality.
    • "Russian dressing" is a French invention that has absolutely nothing to do with Russian cuisine.
    • Pelmeni (dumplings with a variety of fillings, usually meat) may mistakenly be called pierogies. They are not remotely similar.
      • Actually, the word "pirog" ("пирог") simply means "pie" in Russian and doesn't refer to any specific dish.
  • Scandinavia in general: All sorts of unsavory preserved seafood dishes, spiced thin cookies, and aquavit. Also, all Scandinavians ever seem to eat is meat, especially sausages and reindeer stew.
    • And meatballs (which are exclusively Swedish in Hollywood Cuisine, although Finns make them too in real life).
      • Note that in Babylon 5 G'kar confirmed that every intellegent spicies in the galaxy had their own version (with its own unique name) of Swedish Meatballs similar to Douglas Adams's assertion that every intellegent species in the galaxy had their own version (again with its own unique but somehow phonetically similar name) of gin and tonic. One may be a shout out to the other but YMMV.
    • Occasionally lutefisk will garner a mention, of only for its Squicktasticness.
      • Although these days, that's more a Norwegian American (and particularly Norwegian Minnesotan) thing, if Garrison Kiellor is to be believed.
        • At least in Finland, it's more of a seasonal thing associated with Christmas.
    • Smörgåsbord/smørrebrød, always rendered as "smorgasbord", will be used without any explanation of what it is. It means "table of (buttered) bread" and refers to a type of open-faced sandwich.
      • The other Wiki does agree with the above poster for the definition of Smorgas being buttered bread/open faced sandwich but the wiki states that a smorgasbord is similar to the buffets known and loved by all
  • Swiss: Cheese. And fondue. And chocolate. To drink there is hot chocolate.

Notes

  1. The French do have pain perdu--literally "lost bread"--but it is considered a dessert--often a fancy one--not a down-home breakfast item.
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