Foods With Misleading Names


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Mongolian barbecue was invented in Taiwan. Homard a l'Americaine was devised by a French cook in Paris. English muffins were first made in New York City. French fries were invented in Belgium when Belgium was still called the Spanish Netherlands. No Dijon mustard is made in Dijon. The Jerusalem artichoke is native to North America. Russian dressing is unknown in Russia.

We asked our beloved Browser readers to surprise us with more and better examples of other foods and drinks which make utterly misleading claims about their places of origin, which they duly did....

Tom McLaughlan writes in with four suggestions:

​1) You can't buy spaghetti bolognese in Bologna.
2) Austrians created the croissant.
3) Sauerkraut is Chinese.
4) Vindaloo from India was originally Vinha d'alhos from Portugal.​

Buon appetito/Guten appetit/Bon appetit/Desfrute de sua refeição/Buon appetito/请享用​

Basel Kirmani tells this charming tale:

In Hong Kong we have a number of "Western" restaurants, which were set up to cater to the peculiarities of the non-Chinese palate. One of the more famous ones, Tai Ping Koon, has a menu item called "Swiss chicken wings". These wings, marinated in soy sauce, sugar, Shaoxing wine and other delightful ingredients, are from a recipe dating to the late Qing dynasty. But when a western tourist tried them and exclaimed "Sweet!", the Chinese waiter misheard and assumed that the dish tasted "Swiss!"

Aaron Loreth contributed a sandwich and salad, with dessert:

This one might miss the mark for what you’re looking for, but it is interesting to know that the Caesar salad was invented not in Italy but in Tijuana, Mexico, by an Italian immigrant.

Also, the French Dip sandwich originated in California, and the German Chocolate cake came from New York.

German chocolate cake also drew the watchful eye of Sam, who adds:

Similarly, “chop suey,” nominally a Chinese foodstuff, is wholly American in origin. Perhaps more on point, the pastry called a ‘Danish’ seems to be an Austrian invention by a French apprentice some 350 years ago.

The festive turkey, however, was our Most Accused Food: thanks to Dugald Ross, Geoff Mansfield, Graham Marshall, and Karen White, who gives us this succinct summary of the problem:

Turkey is not from turkey, nor is it from Peru (which is what turkey is called in Portuguese). My understanding is that in Turkey they call it a hindi, meaning, as you may have guessed, that it’s supposed to be from India. Which of course it is also not.

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Graham goes on to add:

Second is pad thai, from Thailand. This is a weaker claim because pad that is most definitely from Thailand. But it is not as Thai as it sounds. Stir-fried rice noodles are not really Thai food - really it is a Chinese import. There seems to be some dispute about how ‘pad thai’ came about. There is a story that the wartime Prime Minister Plaek Phibunsongkram wanted a national dish, so pad thai was invented. However, there is some argument because there are none of his speeches referring to pad thai. All this is from the wikipedia page. I guess the main argument is that pad thai is Chinese food developed into Thai food, rather than Thai food itself.

... while Geoff highlights a slew of misdemeanours:

Canadian bacon, only referred to as such by people from the States, is English and basic back bacon at that. Canada does, however, lay claim to the Hawaiian pizza, part of a mid-20th Century tiki craze that is also responsible for Crab Rangoon (at Trader Vic’s in San Fran). I can do without, tho I would stake my flag through (?) the Cuban sandwich, the invention of which divides the cities of Tampa and Miami.

No one seems too proud of the boiled sausage. The bog standard American ballpark frank(furter) is a Wiener Würstchen in Frankfurt; in Vienna, the Wiener Würstchen is a Frankfurter. The Viennese are responsible for that most typical-but-not-misnamed French pastry, the croissant, just as they are the Danish pastry. Wienerbrød was first baked in Denmark by Austrian strike breakers in the mid-19th C.

On the subject of baked goods, the Battenberg Cake is as English as the Jaffa Cake — and decidedly more of a cake. The Afghan biscuit is Kiwi (kiwifruit, while here, being Chinese).

In dodgier territory, there is some debate as to the provinance of the Scotch egg. It is most likely from south of the border. Wash down with the equally murky contents of a French press, which may/may not be Italian/American and may/may not have been first invented to deal with tomatoes.

(An example of a scrupulously well-named dessert is the Paris-Brest. Baked into the shape of a wheel in honour of the round trip bike race between those two cities, its caloric-value is almost equal to the energy burned on the ride. Meta! Recommended!)

Geoff is joined in irritation at the Cuban Sandwich by Irisita Azary, but she has a suggestion to take away the pain:

However, I found that the "Cuba Libre" cocktail really was invented in Cuba, shortly after Cuba became free of Spain with American help, and was made possible by the importation Coca-Cola which followed swiftly thereafter.

Meredith Wheeler also provides after-dinner drinks:

The liqueur St. Germain bills itself as "the world's first artisanal French liqueur," and I find that friends are often shocked to learn that it in fact originated in the United States in the year 2007. Like Bailey's, St. Germain is a masterclass in branding, with a name that (at least to provincial Americans like me) evokes an age-old European provenance and a bottle designed to pay homage to Paris in the 1920s.

Dugald Ross really highlights the scale of the problem (donate today, and you could help rename a sorely abused food stuff):

My favorite is Devon. I will just link to Wikipedia as it has so many miss leading names of origin even people in Australia cant agree on it.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devon_(sausage)
Others that come to mind......
welsh rabbit
scotch woodcock
scotch eggs
English baked beans
English breakfast tea
Korean tacos
Turkey
Italian hotdogs
Vienna finger biscuits
polish boy
baked Alaska
white Russian
Moscow muleold Amsterdam cheese
french onion dip
hollandaise sauce
dutch apple pie
swiss cheese
brussel sprouts
Waterloo cheese
swinish rice
Monte carlo biscuits

... while Paul Babwin reminds us that it is not only food that is so maltreated:

Well, it's not exactly food, but: There’s no such thing as “fine Corinthian leather” but Ricardo Montalban made it famous when he told TV viewers that it was feature of the Chrysler Cordoba, in a series of commercials in the 1970’s.  The term was made up by an advertising agency and was supposed to connote luxury.  When David Letterman asked Montalban about on his TV show, Montalban cheerfully admitted it was meaningless.  (Source: Wikipedia)

... and Robert de Vido broadens our horizons beyond the simple origin error:

This one may be a BIT off topic, but in Japan a corn dog (non-Americans may be racing to Google “corn dog”) is known as an “American dog”, but the pronunciation is “American dog-gu”. And I put the Japanese phonetic spelling in the subject line: アメリカンドッグ.

Like many foods that are carried around the world (e.g. the hot dog itself, from Germany to America, and of course British and Japanese curry), some changes were made.

See here for an explanation of the “American dog-gu”.

Something I have observed during my decades of overseas living is that world-famous fast food places are so ubiquitous that they may not be identified, especially by youngsters, as from their country of origin. If you go into a McDonald’s in China, for example, especially outside of Shanghai, Beijing or Guangzhou, and ask someone under 15 about the origins of McDonald’s they will be unlikely to be able to tell you it’s an American company. To them, it’s just McDonald’s (pronounced with the Chinese name, Jingongmen, which is a recent update).

That's almost it, folks. Finally, our thanks to Barry Miller for providing this shocking parting shot:

Moon pies have never been found on the moon

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