Food Facts



  • Many American foods were brought from Europe by immigrants.
  • Hamburgers were brought to the USA by German immigrants in the 1880s, but are now the most famous American food.
  • Frankfurters came from Frankfurt in Germany (though this is disputed by people from Coburg, now in Bavaria). They became known in the USA as ‘hot dogs’ by the early 1890s.
  • The pizza came from Naples in Italy, but the first pizzeria opened in New York in 1895. Pizzas caught on after 1945.
  • The bagel originated in Poland early in the 1600s where it was known as beygls. It was taken to New York by Jewish immigrants and is often eaten filled with smoked salmon and cream cheese.
  • Self-service cafeterias began in the 1849 San Francisco Gold Rush.
  • The world’s first fast-food restaurant may have been the White Castle which opened in Wichita, Kansas in 1921.
  • The world’s biggest fast-food chain is McDonalds which has over 29,000 branches worldwide.
  • Pies have been popular in the US since colonial times, and apple pie is the symbol of American home cooking.
  • American home cooking includes beef steaks, chicken and ham with potatoes plus a salad. But Americans eat out often – not only fast-food such as hamburgers and French fries, but Chinese, Italian and Mexican dishes.
  • Fish and bread play a major role in the traditional Scandinavian diet.
  • Gravadlax is a Swedish form of smoked salmon, usually served with pepper, dill and mustard sauce.
  • Smorgasbord is a Swedish speciality. It is a huge spread of bread and cold foods, including fish such as herring and salmon, and also cheeses.
  • Smorgasbord gets its name from the Swedish snairgas, meaning bread and bord, meaning table.
  • Every region in Germany has its own range of foods, but things like wurst (sausages), pretzels and sauerkraut (pickled cabbage) are widely popular.
  • The German national drink is beer, and every October a beer festival is held in Munich.
  • England is well known for its stews and winter roasts, especially roast beef. The most popular food for eating out is Indian.
  • An English speciality is fish (deep-fried in batter) and chips (fried slices of potato).
  • Vienna in Austria is known for its coffee houses where the Viennese sit and enjoy Kaffee and Kuchen (coffee and cakes).
  • Poland is famous for its rye bread and thick beet.
  • The staple foods in China are rice and wheat with corn, millet and sorghum. In the south, the people eat more rice. In the north, they eat more wheat, as bread or noodles.
  • Vegetables such as cabbage, bean and bamboo shoots are popular. So too is tofu (soya bean curd).
  • Favourite meats in China are pork and poultry, but the Chinese also eat a lot of eggs, fish and shellfish.
  • A Chinese breakfast may be rice and vegetables or rice porridge and chicken noodle soup or sweet pastries.
  • A Chinese lunch may include egg rolls or meat or prawn dumplings called dim sum.
  • Chinese food has many textures, including slippery mushrooms and crunchy vegetables.
  • The Chinese were drinking tea at least 4000 years ago.
  • A Chinese main meal may be stir-fried vegetables with bits of meat or seafood in a stock, with rice or noodles.
  • China has a long tradition of fine cooking, but styles vary. Cantonese cooking in the south has lots of fish, crabs and prawn. Huaiyang has steamed dishes. Sichuann is spicy. Beijing cooking in the north is the most sophisticated, famous for its Peking duck (cripsy roast duck
  • The Chinese often cook their food by stir-frying (stirring while hot frying) in big round pans called woks. They eat the food from bowls with chopsticks and small china spoons, not with knives and forks.
  • Chinese drink tea without milk, typically made from jasmine leaves, oolong (green tea) or chrysanthemum.
  • A favourite snack in China is fried savoury dumplings.
  • Most Indians live on very plain diets — based on staples such as rice in the east and south, chapatis (flat wheat bread) in the north and northwest, and bajra (millet bread) in the Maharashtra region.
  • The staple foods are supplemented by dal (lentil porridge), vegetables and yoghurt.
  • Chillis and other spices such as coriander, cumin, ginger and turmeric add flavor.
  • Indian food often uses a range of spices in order to create a particular sauce for each dish.
  • Chicken and mutton are costly and eaten occasionally. Hindus will not eat beef and Muslims will not eat pork.
  • Many Indian meals are cooked in ghee (liquid butter). Ghee is made by heating butter to boil off water, then allowing it to cool and separate. Ghee is scooped off the top.
  • Although many Indians have simple diets, India has an ancient and varied tradition of fine cooking.
  • Curries are dishes made with a sauce including the basic Indian spices — turmeric, cumin, coriander and red pepper. The word curry comes from the Tamil kari, or sauce.
  • The basis of a curry is a masala, a mix of spices, often blended with water or vinegar to make a paste.
  • Southern Indian vegetable curries are seasoned with hot blends like sambar podi.
  • Classic northern Indian Mughal dishes are often lamb, or chicken based, and seasoned with milder garam masala.
  • Mediterranean food depends on ingredients grown in the warm Mediterranean climate. It tends to be lighter than north European food, including salads, flat bread and fish rather than sauces and stews.
  • Olive oil is used for dressing salads and frying food.
  • There are five major styles of Mediterranean food: Italian, Greek, Turkish, Spanish and North African.
  • Italian meals often include pasta, which is made from durum wheat flour and served with a sauce.
  • Popular forms of pasta include spaghetti (little strings’), vermicelli worms’), fusilli (`spindles’) and tube-shaped macaroni.
  • Pizzas originated in Italy. They are made from a dough base spread with toppings such as tomatoes, cheese, olives and salami.
  • Spaghetti Bolognese — spaghetti pasta with meat and tomato sauce — is the centrepiece of a typical Italian meal.
  • In north Italy ribbon pastas served with cream sauces are popular. In the south, macaroni served with tomato-based sauces are more popular.
  • Pizzas are popular snacks, especially in the south.
  • Greek food includes meats — especially lamb — and fish cooked in olive oil.
  • Greek salad includes olives, cucumber, tomatoes, herbs and feta cheese (soft goat’s cheese).
  • Spanish food often includes seafood such as calamaris (squid). Paella includes seafoods and chicken combined with rice and cooked in saffron. Gazpacho is a cold tomato soup. Tapas are small snacks, originating in southern Spain.
  • Most populated places around the Pacific are located near the sea, so fish plays an important part in diets.
  • In Japan fish is often eaten raw in thin slices called sashimi, or cooked with vegetables in batter as a dish called tempura, often served with soy sauce.
  • At home most Japanese eat traditional foods including rice and noodles, as well as fish, tofu and vegetables or eggs.
  • When out, many Japanese people eat American-style fast food.
  • The Japanese eat only half as much rice now as they did in 1960, as younger people prefer bread and doughnuts.
  • Younger Japanese people have a diet richer in protein and fat than their parents, so grow 8-10 cm taller.
  • Pacific islanders ate fish like bonito and tuna and native plants like breadfruit, coconuts, sweet potatoes and taro. They made flour from sago palm pith.
  • Many islanders now eat mainly canned Western food and suffer malnutrition. World geography
  • Filipino food is a mix of Chinese, Malay, American and Spanish. Adobo is chicken or pork in soy sauce.
  • Some Australians now often eat ‘fusion’ food which blends Asian with European cooking styles.