10 American Restaurant Classics That Gross out Foreigners

Person Looks at foodThanks to an abundance of cooking shows on cable and satellite TV, there’s no shortage of foreign foods that Americans find totally gross. But have you ever stopped to think that maybe foreigners have similar reactions to some of our American classics? They do.

There are some things we eat in this country that just don’t make sense to those not born and raised here. Some of those foods just look gross; some of them really are gross. So gross, in fact, that some Americans won’t even eat them.

For your dining pleasure, here is our list of 10 American restaurant classics that gross out foreigners:

1. Biscuits and Gravy

This Southern breakfast classic consists of light, fluffy biscuits and some sort of sausage gravy. Such breakfast fare is not so unusual to certain types of Europeans, but go to South America, Asia, or Africa and you’ll find they think that biscuits and gravy is pretty gross. A recipe from Bob Evans shows their gravy – which is what most foreigners consider the gross part – consists of browned sausage, flour, milk, salt, and pepper.

2. Bacon and Eggs

As long as we’re talking about breakfast, bacon and eggs is another recipe strange to many foreigners, especially in countries like France, where breakfast consists of some sort of fruit along with a bread product. Foreigners find our bacon and eggs especially difficult to swallow if the bacon is greasy. But even the eggs don’t look all that appetizing to those who haven’t grown up with them.

3. Grits

For one last look at gross breakfast food, we give you yet another Southern classic: grits. This dish is a soupy, pasty porridge made up of ground corn, water, and a few other ingredients. The Food Network offers a recipe from Paula Deen, if you’re interested. And just so you know, any self-respecting restaurant claiming to serve authentic Southern food will have grits on the breakfast menu. That’s just the way it is.

4. Peanut Butter and Jelly

Because peanut butter and jelly is so common to American households, it’s normal for family restaurants to include it on the kids menu. Heck, even some adults will enjoy a good PB&J at lunchtime. But not foreigners. To this day, many of them are grossed out by the sight and smell of peanut butter. That’s a shame, because they’re also missing out on other classics like goober peanut soup.

5. Casseroles

We decided to lump every casserole into this one category because, quite frankly, the majority of foreigners find them all disgusting. Whether you’re talking about Aunt Genevieve’s famous bean casserole or the tuna and cream of mushroom casserole mom used to prepare during Lent, there’s no getting around the fact that these meals are more than an acquired taste.

6. Corn Dogs

Did you know that the original corn dog was patented in 1929 by an inventor from Buffalo, New York? Even so, the historical nature of the corn dog doesn’t make it any more appealing to non-Americans. Since its inception the corn dog has gone through its own evolutionary changes to arrive at what we now find being served by restaurants and street vendors and at state fairs across the country.

7. Meatloaf

Let’s be honest; we’ve all had a meatloaf or two that was gross even by our own standards. Imagine what foreigners must think of this classic American restaurant food. To some, it’s the egg that makes the recipe unbearable. To others, meatloaf is unpalatable because it’s dry and flavorless. But Americans love it, as evidenced by the number of family restaurants serving it.

8. Spam Sandwich

The good folks at Hormel take a lot of ribbing where their signature Spam product is concerned. And despite the fact that Americans devour this product without question, foreigners are a lot more choosy when it comes to their meat. They don’t like Spam specifically because no one really claims to know what’s in it. And besides, meat packed in a can is just not the way they do it in most other countries. Thanks to Monty Python, however, there may be some Brits who actually enjoy a good Spam sandwich.

9. Cold Breakfast Cereal

Making a quick return to breakfast for just a minute, have you ever considered cold breakfast cereal from the hotel restaurant’s buffet? We think nothing of making our breakfast a combination of grains, sugar, marshmallows, and milk or, heaven forbid, some sort of fiber-rich cereal that amounts to nothing more than a nuclear laxative in a box. As for the foreigners, many will eat biscuits and gravy before they’ll think about cold breakfast cereal.

10. Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich

The Philly Cheesesteak sandwich was allegedly invented by two Philadelphia hot dog stand owners who were experimenting with chopped steak and onions on Italian bread. That said, the modern cheesesteak is disgusting to most foreigners because of the ingredients involved. A true, classic cheesesteak uses the worst cuts of meat available along with hot, melted Cheese Whiz―another classic American food that foreigners hate.

We certainly have some strange foods here in the USA. But, there’s no place like home. Most of us would prefer to eat what we’re used to rather than try something different from another country. And that’s probably where all of these negative feelings come from anyway. So whatever you eat, enjoy!

  1. Terry Carico

    I was with you on every food/dish on your list and actually these are some of my kids and mines “favorites” that we eat every week until you hit on “Spam”. It has been around since I was a kid (50 now), but I wouldn’t touch the “mystery meat” then and I still won’t now. What is really in that can?

    How could anyone possibly not like “biscuits and gravy” and “eggs and bacon”??? Those 2 are in my Top 5 still today. I think I’ll fry up a pound of bacon (crisp) tonight and then cook some eggs “sunny-side up” in the grease. Top it all with Buttered toast, some salt and pepper and a glass of milk for my son and me!

    • Melissa Garner

      Terry, that sounds delightful!!

    • willard breadman

      It’s pretty easy to leave biscuits and gravy behind if you are north of the mason-dixon line and don’t live in a rural area that still thinks Eisenhower is president. Bacon and eggs, though, are much more common and are not gross to foreigners — very common throughout all of Europe and south America. Only the French don’t care for them and…..who cares for the French, after all?

  2. Red Knek

    We’re Americans, we don’t care what foreigners like. They’re a bunch of commie pinko poofs anyway.

    • Me

      ….and this is why everyone hates america and those in it.

      • George Washington


        • Gary1206

          Forget it. We now live in the land of Literalville where no one gets sarcasm/satire/tongue in cheek. That’s why folks believe what they read in The Onion and spoof newscast.

      • cbrooks

        I’d advise you and the rest of the world not to take it personally, but I don’t think you can help it.
        Many lives and fortunes have been spent so that we don’t have to care what others think about us or what outsiders think we should do.

    • Legs Akimbo

      Hell Ya Red! ‘Murica!

    • Charles

      eww your just a gross red neck i happen to be british and a lot of this stuff to me is gross

      • tori

        *you’re. Proof read before you insult someone.

  3. John Casper

    Please. I’ve eaten all these items and enjoyed them. They might be an acquired taste but so are English kippers, blood pudding, haggis and so much more. Try it you might like it!

    • Glen Cheney

      Blood pudding its actually called Black pudding. And Spam used to be a great factory canteen staple served as fried Spam fritters and chips (fries). Phillie Cheese Steak – when I lived in Harrisburg, Pa I was taught that it is slices of Swiss cheese in the mix

  4. Leslee

    Who on earth uses Cheez Whiz for a Philly Cheesesteak? That IS gross. Just saying…

    • Philly Boy

      Um…..clearly you’ve never had a Philly Cheesesteak. Although you certainly don’t have to get it “wit whiz”, every single shop in Philly offers it and it is a staple. Every. Single. One.

      • Lang

        cheeze whiz has become popular i am told…i have never ever seen it used, i only see and have only ever seen provolone (or at least some kind of white cheese like provolone, cheese whiz is orange)

      • Yep

        I’m from South Jersey. Philly Boy is 100% correct. I’m always amused when traveling around the country to see what passes for a Philly Cheese steak. In L.A. they add lettuce and tomato LOL. Whenever I’m in Philly I get a whiz n onions at Jim’s. That, for those who know, is the one.

        • Melissa Garner

          Damn right Jim’s is the one. We had it for breakfast last time we were in Philly!!

      • johnt

        Cheese wiz is a new fangled invention. Philly Cheese steaks were around before that. Just cause every one uses it don’t mean its right. Back in the day it was provolone or plain white american cheese.

        • old fart

          Yep, sad to see Cheese Whiz replacing the good provolone that every stand used to use back in the day. Every one. It’s gotten so bad that our local gyros shop puts the Whiz on gyros unless you tell them not to. I’m not even sure it saves any food costs. It’s just dumb.

    • How Brown

      Exactly Leslee….no one uses Cheese Whiz, except the two joints down in South Philly. Its amazing that this myth of Cheese Whiz being integral to a good steak has lasted so long.

  5. monica

    this article is not written by someone with enough research done on the subject. spam is eaten very often in Slovakia. also, the title insinuates that foreigners don’t like certain foods, however, after #3 or so, the writer fails to say what country finds the food offensive. do your research.

    • shugah405

      @monica – you are absolutely right. I’ve travelled to many countries. While the breakfast buffets have many “native” items, there are typically American foods that the locals eat with no problem (eggs & bacon being one perfect example). Some of the items listed here are things I would never eat and personally find “gross.” I think all “ethnic” dishes do or do not appeal to an individual based on their own personal preferences and perhaps the visual presentation. Delicious looking biscuits are destroyed when doused with beige slimy stuff.

  6. morosemoose

    When I was stationed in Germany, my German friends and relatives offered me large amounts of money to buy them peanut butter and white bread. I could have made a killing selling them, but since it was friends and family. If you want gross food try German blood sausage.

    • Danelle

      Amen to the blood sausage thing… I did try it because I promised I would try everything they put in front of me but one bite was all it took… SO SO SO GROSS!

  7. Patriot Tony

    REALLY? Grits? As opposed to European Polenta? (this was the father of grits) And BACON vs english “Bangers?….How about Italian Cheese that is served with live maggots? True HAGGIS with lungs? This entire list is nonsense…top to bottom. In fact in the PACIFIC SPAM is actually served at Fast food places. Meatloaf…with an egg? Uhmmm the classic recipe for French Steak TAR TAR is raw ground filet with seasonings topped with a RAW slimy egg.
    This author knows next to nothing about food..or cultures..

    • shugah405

      @Patriot Tony: You da man! All PERFECT examples.

    • humanguineapig

      Thank you, Patriot Tony! I was thinking the same (re: your last sentence). Having travelled extensively, having one parent who immigrated from a Caribbean country, and spoken with many people during my travels, I know that there’s A LOT wrong with this list and the author’s “logic” in places. Thanks again, Tony, for having brought attention to the point. I’m shocked that the use of certain condiments (like ketchup for fries instead of mayo, like they do in Holland and France, for example) didn’t somehow make this ill-thought list.

    • Joepiccaso

      Polenta is boiled cornmeal. Grits are ground dried Hominy. Same plant totally different product. And, If you don’t season grits with some salt, pepper and butter or red-eye gravy, it will taste like wallpaper paste. Most every culture has a hot grain cereal, porridge or gruel, of some sort, like Chinese Congee, Hawaiian Poi, cream of Wheat, Oatmeal, etc. Even in sophisticated Europe.

  8. Chris

    Ummmm… SERIOUSLY? I think I am going to need you to cite some reliable sources before I believe most of this list. Bacon and eggs? Ever heard of ENGLAND or the NETHERLANDS? SPAM? They eat that all over the globe, and a lot more often than we do. And, casseroles? Wow – that only highly resembles many, many European dishes. Did you take any time to actually research these claims, or did you just pull them off the top of your head and throw them out there?

    • Mark Stevens

      I think some of you are over thinking this piece. You’re getting hostile over bacon and eggs.

    • Steve

      Do you listen when you talk? You want “reliable sources” over breakfast foods? What will you accept here, a poll of Europe?

    • td

      agree….this article is moronic…..an anti-american slant

  9. O Edlin

    French? French? Oh France, Isn’t that the little country where the Germans practice close order drill about second every generation? I would like to be there to watch and cheer the next time.

  10. Jeff Hall

    Food network and Paula Deen parted ways a few years ago on false allegations. I have parted from Food Network for that reason. Go Paula.

  11. td

    ok, you are really reaching on this column…..slow news day?

    spam sandwiches? who in the US eats these things, anyway…and how are foreigners watching them?
    biscuits and gravy nauseate foreigners? you are making this up….

    in fact, this whole article is BS….if you’re going to write, put some effort into coming up with a reasonable topic, not another reason why “foreigners hate americans.”

  12. DocDan

    Indeed, in WWII English folk often had to eat meatless meals as meat was scarce. When they could start to acquire American SPAM, then considered a rare treat, they knew they could hope for victory. I dare say Spam is considered to be gross by more Americans than it is by most non-Americans.

  13. Jesse

    A true, classic cheesesteak uses the worst cuts of meat available along with hot, melted Cheese Whiz.

    Not true, most Philly Cheesesteak uses thinly sliced top round or even ribeye, and many use provolone instead of Cheez Whiz or Velveeta.

  14. jim matthews

    Philly cheesesteaks are made from lean top round, not cheap cuts of meat. I grew up eating them and never even heard of cheese wiz till I was in my 30′s. American cheese is used to add some fat and texture or provolone for people who like that flavor. Last but not least a good italian roll is essential. I believe the non-existence of good rolls is the main reason why what I grew up eating isn’t available anymore.

  15. Max

    Article = inane, incorrect, and pretty darn pointless. It propounds enormously improper and inaccurate generalizations upon other continents and countries. Heck, in 2003 SPAM was sold to over 40 different countries world wide on every continent except Antarctica, where it’s even reasonably believable it was shipped to since it is so well ‘preserved’. Further, just as the diets of different Americans are numerous and varied, so too are the diets of foreigners, regardless of whichever country they are from. It’s fundamentally about 3 things – one, tastebuds (people who think cilantro tastes like soap can’t control it, it’s genetics; some people prefer salty over sweet, and vice versa); second, personal values (there actually are people out there who are extremely antagonistic to processed foods and they refuse to put it in their bodies, there are vegetarians, vegans, etc…); thirdly, it’s about where you live and what resources you have that provide you access to your food (yes, globalization has made access to food that doesn’t grow locally or isn’t in season easier, but that doesn’t mean it’s cheap).
    Also, just b/c a particular culture doesn’t traditionally serve certain dishes (like the author’s eggs in France example) does not mean that you can then logically impute the culture’s lack of traditionally serving it to mean that the individuals in that society now do not like it (when I was in France, I saw Americans eating the ‘fruit and bread’ breakfast while seeing native French eat eggs).

  16. Marianne Garcia

    I’m no American but I can honestly say that I can take most of the foods above, mostly because I’m no fan of the corn dog (please don’t hate). It really depends how tough your stomach is and yeah, foreigners eat foreign food too (just no corn dog for me please hah!)

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  18. Ron

    One thing that I remember about visiting the USA is the (to our family at least) revolting breakfast cereals laden with sugar and fats in lurid colours. Our kids have always been brought up healthy and we eat toast and fruit for breakfast, occasionally egg or oatmeal. Even the kids found the American cereals disgusting, and they didn’t even have any non-sugar non-fat laden healthier options. After one day of eating out (not at fast food outlets I might add), we all had bad tummies not being used to the fat, sugar and salt content and so we decided to make our own picnics. There are some places serving healthy food but they are not very common. We have visited many countries around the world including Asia and thought that America had the worst food by far.

  19. Marina

    I’m brazilian and i do find most of the foods on this list unatractive. I never understood peanut butter and i get it even less coupled with jelly. I would have nothing against meatloaf and casseroles. Hotels here in Brazil do have bacon and eggs but i rareky see brazilians eating those; its usually tourists eating them. Breakfast consists basically of coffe or juice and bread, iogurt and/or fruit. Most brazilians would have a hard time eating eggs and bacon and would find it more suitable for lunch (and we would probably think it would be a heavy lunch). Cold breakfast its not common though some people do like it. I had it a couple of times and liked it but i just wont have it every day. What i find strange in american food that has gotten me quite shocked are the huge portion sizes. When i go to US i’ll share single plates with my husband and sometimes even our small daughter! What i do looooooove are your cookies, cheesecake and regular mashed potatoes.

  20. Annette in Mississippi

    I don’t know how anybody can represent all foreigners everywhere. I don’t know how they can represent all of anybody in such sweeping commentaries, but I am a white person from the southeast. I am accustomed to being called a racist if I make a cultural commentary about the ethnic differences in my home town. However, the representatives from those other ethnicities often make sweeping commentaries about white people that they know and get away with it. Notice that I said often. There is no 100% homogeneous group of people anywhere. Now that I’ve ventured off on that topic, let me venture back to the topic at hand. It has been a long time since I have been to a foreign country, and that was Mexico because it is the only foreign country I’ve ever visited. I read that some of the restaurants in Mexico City boast of ant larvae on the menu. I wonder how hungry a body has to be to try ant larvae to satisfy that hunger.

  21. AdamFisher

    I’m from the UK. This is total nonsense. Nobody I’ve ever met from any country has ever shown disgust at any of these things, just indifference or a passing curiosity.

  22. Carla

    OMG, I couldn’t wait to reach the bottom of the comments for my turn to reply, lol ! Yep I read every last one of them too !
    First I am born and raised in Southern Florida, that explains most of my comments right there, as a small child I loved ‘Capn’ Crunch w/milk…yum yum. Then as I grew my mama gave me them nasty over easy eggs with grits that were so dang good all mashed up together with toast and lots of real Butter ! Oh yes, I would , what my daddy called Sop em up (the eggs and grits) with my toast, oh yeah don’t for get that them grits need lots of real butter in them also ! But now my plate was not quite full of the mornings goodies to pick from, there was bacon and sausage, they came in link and in patty form, oh god my mouth is watering up from the memories, oh..oh there was country ham Yuppers with the bone in, if you know what I mean….none of that processed crap that the Resturants serve now, oh slice me some of the jelly ham, ha ha, yuk. Ok now we can have some pancakes or hoecakes with cane syrup, or maple is good too. Then comes the home fries, oh man there are so good fried in bacon grease, and better if you add some good Georgia sweet onions. And yes sir I love my mamas biscuits with jelly or syrup. Well I’m gettin full mentally and now I have to go shopping for breakfast items, cause that’s what’s for supper tonite at my house. Can I ask everyone one thing, I went to Pennsylvania one time and we went out for breakfast, but I like to have lmao right there at the table when I asked for grits and they didn’t know what it was, but to top it off they tried to serve me something they called Scrappel for my meat item, just what is it ? Cause I say ‘oh heck no !’ back it goes !
    Anyone is welcome to come to my house for breakfast, just one rule….. Come hungry ! Cause I’m gonna fill you up ! God Bless you all !

  23. Hillbilly

    I can’t say I don’t like scrapple but I’ve seen the preparation of it and was never brave enough to try it — it’s much too gross looking for me and the smell of boiling pork scraps is very unappetizing. Here’s the info from wikipedia:
    Scrapple is typically made of hog offal, such as the head, heart, liver, and other trimmings, which are boiled with any bones attached (often the entire head), to make a broth. Once cooked, bones and fat are discarded, the meat is reserved, and (dry) cornmeal is boiled in the broth to make a mush. The meat, finely minced, is returned to the pot and seasonings, typically sage, thyme, savory, black pepper, and others are added. The mush is formed into loaves and allowed to cool thoroughly until set. Scrapple is typically cut into quarter-inch to three-quarter-inch slices and pan-fried until brown to form a crust. It is sometimes first coated with flour. It may be fried in butter or oil and is sometimes deep-fried. Scrapple can also be broiled; this is a good cooking method for those who like their scrapple crisp.

    Help yourself to my share of this questionable food but save some of everything on the above list for me!

  24. Ed Bowman

    I’m American, and I haven’t eaten most of the things on this list. The ones I have like bacon and eggs and cereal chiefly aren’t typical breakfast for me. Cuisine in this country is not homogeneous. Actually you would be hard pressed to find biscuits and gravy or grits around here. And even the things like bacon and eggs are not a typical breakfast, I personally remember eating it very sparsely

  25. Lou Villanty

    Most of those food sounds OK ish and we have some sort of version of it over here – I am a Brit living in Germany – but I mean the UK generally. The biscuit and gravy sounds like a sotty – which is often served with gravy and mushy peas.

    In most of mainland Europe, they tend to go for the ‘continental’ breakfast, fruit, toast, light cereal etc. The UK is well known for it’s morning ‘fry up’ (bacon, eggs sausages, mushrooms, beans, tomatoes, black pudding and fried bread), though I have never been able to eat such a heavy breakfast.

    The biggest difference I have noticed in terms of US food vs Euro food, is the processed kind, and food portions. I hate to say this, but US processed food is generally, the worst kind of processed food there is, and processed food ain’t that great to begin with. US generally tend to have higher amounts of sugar, bad fats, additives etc. When I first visited, it was quite a shock to my system. That said, we have some abominations over here, and the US processed food culture, particularly in the UK, has become the norm over the last 20+ years. Also, I hate to say this as well, but I am not a fan of US chocolate – it doesn’t taste like chocolate at all, it’s full of sugar, milk, and other things. Over here 60% cocoa solids is the norm. In the US, that’s specialist chocolate.

    The best breakfast I have ever had, and still eat, is the ‘Welshmans breakfast’. Which is normally bacon (I omit the bacon), mushrooms, and lavabread. Lavabread is lava seaweed mixed with oats, and pepper and made into patties and fried. Some eat it with cockles. I just have the lavabread patties and mushrooms! Great stuff.

  26. Nenev3

    I’ve lived on the south all my life and all of my relatives are southern- I don’t like gravy on biscuits, grits, or spam.
    I do like biscuits though- with blackberry jelly!

  27. Jenna

    Many of these items average Americans don’t or don’t regularly heat. Spam sandwich? Who eats that? I have a friend who lived in Hawaii who said that was popular there but other than that I’ve never heard of that. Grits, Casseroles, meatloaf, and Corn dogs are more regional to the Midwest or South. It’s less common for people on the West Coast to eat that shit.

  28. Heather Coover

    I grew up in the South, in New Orleans, and even I can’t stand biscuits and gravy. I just can’t eat white gravy. Otherwise, everything on this list is awesome.

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