13 American Foods We Bet You’ll Never Find Anywhere Else on Earth Slideshow
May 16, 2017
These regional American favorites don’t turn up on any international menus
13 American Foods We Bet You’ll Never Find Anywhere Else on Earth
“American” food is having a bit of a moment abroad. Dishes that until recently could only be found, well, in America are now turning up on menus all around the world, and are being discovered by millions of new fans. But you can travel to every country and visit every restaurant that serves an American-inspired menu, and we bet that these 13 All-American dishes will never turn up.
Beef on Weck
A roast beef sandwich that dreams are made of, French dip lovers will love beef on weck. A hallmark sandwich of the Buffalo, New York, area, beef on weck starts with rare, thinly sliced roast beef, tucked into a roll called a kummelweck, which has been dusted with coarse salt and caraway seeds. The top bun gets a dip in beef jus, and the only condiment is a hefty spoonful of horseradish.
Pronounced “get-a,” this Ohio specialty was invented by German immigrants in Cincinnati in the 1800s. It’s essentially a thick raw sausage made with ground pork (or pork and beef); pin-head oats; and spices including rosemary, bay leaves, and thyme. It’s traditionally sliced and fried in butter, and can be eaten by itself or served with ketchup, mustard, apple butter, syrup, honey, or grape jelly. Glier’s, the largest commercial producer, makes more than 1 million pounds annually.
This Hawaiian invention is one of the heaviest dishes you’ll find anywhere, and makes for a great late breakfast after a morning or surfing. It starts with a foundation of white rice, which is then usually topped with a hamburger patty or two, fried eggs, and brown gravy. It’s open to interpretation, however, and the burger patties can be replaced with anything from bacon and Spam to chili, kalua pork, and shrimp.
Kentucky Hot Brown
Created at the legendary Brown Hotel in Louisville in 1926, the Hot Brown is an open-faced sandwich with turkey, bacon, and Mornay sauce (béchamel with cheese added), broiled until brown. Some variations also include ham, pimentos, or tomatoes, and it’s a really popular dish in Kentucky.
Eugene Peretz/Wikimedia Commons
Insanely popular in the Rochester, New York, area but little-known outside of it, the garbage plate gets its name because of the huge quantity and variety of food piled onto a plate. Widely credited with being created at a restaurant there called Nick Tahou’s Hots, it’s prepared by starting with either baked beans or macaroni salad, then piling on home fries or French fries. It’s then topped with your choice of two of the following: hamburger, cheeseburger, Italian sausage, red hot or white hot (local hot dog variations), chicken tenders, haddock, fried eggs, ham, or a grilled cheese. Then it’s topped with onions, mustard, and beef chili sauce. Hangovers (and waistlines) be damned.
Many restaurants in the Cincinnati area (most famously Blue Ash and Skyline) serve the local version of chili, which (like its cousin in Detroit) more closely resembles a meat sauce than the beany, soupy version you might be used to. It has a rich, savory flavor that’s completely unique. It also happens to pair really well with spaghetti. At many restaurants in the region, you can top a plate of spaghetti with just chili, or you can get it Three-Way (adding a heap of shredded Cheddar); Four-Way (adding Cheddar and onions or beans); or Five-Way (adding Cheddar, onions, and beans). At Blue Ash, you can even go Six-Way, with fried pickles or sliced jalapenos added on.
Gooey Butter Cake
Head to St. Louis and you’ll find one of the most mouthwateringly-named foods around, gooey butter cake. The flat, dense cake originated in the 1930s and is found in just about every grocery store in the area but not outside of it: it’s a mixture of flour, butter, sugar, and eggs that’s baked and dusted with powdered sugar, and the result is rich, dense, and super-gooey.
This salad was incredibly popular at the turn of the twentieth century, especially on the West Coast. It originated in either Seattle or San Francisco, and in its classic form it's a fairly straightforward salad of crabmeat, sliced hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, and asparagus, served on a bed of lettuce. It was traditionally served with a mayonnaise-based dressing, in some cases green goddess dressing, another former West Coast staple that’s mostly fallen out of favor. The salad had a nationwide boom during its early-1900s heyday, but is now only available at a few hotels and restaurants on the West Coast (San Francisco's acclaimed Swan Oyster Depot's version is legendary), with an uptick during peak crab season.
Chicago-Style Italian Beef Sandwich
Forget deep dish pizza — the Italian beef sandwich is the real Chicago legend. Beef sirloin is dry-roasted in a secret recipe blend, thinly sliced, put inside a hearty loaf, and then dunked in “gravy” (commonly referred to as au jus). Customers can choose how much or little broth to add, but most beef stands (the most famous of which are Al’s, Johnnie’s, and Mr. Beef) encourage customers to get their sandwiches “wet.” When topped with giardiniera, a tart and spicy vegetable blend, an Italian beef is quite possibly the greatest sandwich you’ll ever eat.
As Thanksgiving is only really celebrated in the Americas, it makes sense that only Americans take the opportunity to stuff all of the holiday’s greatest hits into a sandwich: turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, and anything else left over from the night before. It’s so popular that some restaurants serve a Thanksgiving sandwich year-round, but you won’t find any places serving it abroad.
Yelp/ Brent R.
You might not have heard of burgoo, probably because it’s still a regional Kentucky specialty that you’d be hard-pressed to find outside of the state. So when you’re there, make sure you eat some of this thick, hearty soup loaded with meat and vegetables. The best place for burgoo is Lexington’s homey Stella’s, where it’s made with beef, pork, chicken, and lamb with corn, beans, and other veggies, and is served with four mini corn muffins for sopping.
A specialty of the Pennsylvania Dutch, shoofly pie is made by filling a pie crust with a combination of dark molasses, water, and a little baking soda, and giving it a crumb topping. It makes for a great breakfast with a cup of strong coffee.
American Chop Suey
This isn’t the chop suey you’re probably familiar with — the Chinese-American combination of meat, eggs, vegetables, and thick sauce. This is American chop suey, which bears little resemblance to its Chinese-American cousin, is a dish of elbow macaroni, ground beef, onions, peppers, and tomato sauce. It’s more Italian-influenced than Chinese, and it’s only found in New England.