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Per Caneel's excellent suggestion, I decided to write a completely frivolous, community-oriented, not-really-directly-political diary about our favorite subject: food.

I was thinking about my favorite foreign foods.  Not the kind that are in the "ethnic" section at the grocery store, but the ones that are only found in specialty stores, that have to be ordered from specialty websites, or that you have to cook for yourself.

My favorites are mostly Swedish, since that (besides Canada) is the one country outside of the U.S. that I've actually been to.  Finax muesli with some "Australian-style" yogurt from Whole Foods is a fantastic breakfast, just like the breakfasts I ate while I was there.  I'm not a big fan of pickled herring - the texture and idea of uncooked fish is something I just can't get over - but love the caviar that comes in a tube just like toothpaste.  Rose hip soup is delicious too, and apparently full of Vitamin C.  And though I suppose they don't really apply to this diary, since I've seen them in grocery stores, crispbreads remind me of my Finnish grandpa.  Another family tradition is lefsa (though lefsa is Norwegian - yes, my background is very Scandinavian), which is basically a tortilla made with potatoes; I usually just add flour to leftover mashed potatoes, roll it out, and then cook it quickly in a hot pan.  Smear butter on, sprinkle cinnamon and sugar all over, and then roll it up and you have a little bit of heaven.  The only place I've ever seen this sold was in a little Scandinavian shop in Seattle.

Another good source for foreign foods is Jbox, which sells just about anything a Japanophile could want.  Though I've ordered a lot of weird stuff from there just to find out what it tasted like (Green tea Pocky?!), most of it has been really good.

I'm a Vegemite fan, which I can only acquire online.  I used to work at a small restaurant/coffee shop that offered both Vegemite and Marmite but I couldn't stand the latter, and never could eat as much of the former as true Australians; I just skim it across the bread and then hide most of the flavor with some strong cheddar.

Finally, while doing some research on Mozambique, I discovered a recipe for something called Piri-Piri.  A little skeptical, I tried it anyway and fell in love with it.  I've read that it's ostensibly a Portuguese dish, but it has made me much more willing to try African foods (or foods in general) that sound strange to me.

So what kinds of foods from other countries/regions/cultures have you found delicious?  Have you made any of them staples in your own house?  Or, if you're from a different country/region/culture than the typical American, what do you think of the old meat-and-potatoes?  

Originally posted to tryptamine on Sun Jan 13, 2008 at 11:54 AM PST.

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