Food Nation

15 American Foods That Are as Weird to Foreigners as Poisonous Blowfish Is to Us

"Boiled animal bones and hide, colored with garish chemicals, served with fruit," wrote food blogger Dr. Ricky on Twitter yesterday. "Oh, you like your Jell-O don't you?"

When deconstructed in this way, a simple childhood dessert like Jell-O suddenly sounds rather vulgar and disgusting. And that was the point.

Or, rather, it was Dr. Ricky's counterpoint to yesterday's post from EOW blogger Sam Brown on foods to avoid, which included foreign treats such as fugu (a.k.a. poisonous pufferfish liver -- which, to be fair, can kill you) beondegi.

"Imagine the counter post about disgusting things that 1st worlders take for granted -- like hotdogs," Dr. Ricky suggested.

Instead of imagining it, I went out and asked my foreign-born friends which American and/or Western foods seemed the strangest to them either from afar or once they arrived in the U.S. Their answers were predictably awesome -- and some of them even surprising.

Biscuits and Gravy

"I do think biscuits and gravy are gross and strange." -- Hala, Canada via Lebanon

Peanut Butter

"Peanut butter, it's still weird to me." -- Natacha, Chile

Bacon and Eggs

"Bacon and eggs in the morning seemed weird to me. And then I realized that I could wake up really, really early to find myself a nice baguette or croissants for my breakfast!!!!!!" -- Genevieve, France

Pasta and Broccoli



"So when I just came to America when I was eight, we were invited to this nice host family's house for dinner. I didn't understand why they only served noodles (pasta) & green cauliflower (broccoli) for dinner. I thought they didn't like us since they only served two items for the entire dinner! Why was there not five or six dishes, like a Chinese meal? I was such an uninformed kid!" -- Miya, China

Black Pepper

"I was born here but I always thought it was an "American" thing to have black pepper at every table - my mother (Cuban/Spanish meals at home) never used any type of pepper. I had to get used to spicy foods and explain to people that not all Hispanics liked spicy foods." -- Elaine, Cuban/Spanish

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Katharine Shilcutt