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You Say Mandu, I Say Jiaozi! Food Doppelgangers From Around the World

Neighboring countries and regions have a tendency to share their cultures, especially when it comes to food. But what about two countries on different continents, with multiple oceans and mountains between them? Will we still be able to spot any doppelgangers? With this question in mind, I asked a few Beijing expats about their hometown foods and the closest Chinese versions.

US

One Beijing resident I spoke to believes that hamburgers are similar to roujiamo (肉夹馍) – a signature dish of Shaanxi province and dubbed the Chinese hamburger – since they are both two layers of bread with meat and a bit of vegetable inside. Roujiamo is covered with two layers of flatbread called baijimo (白吉馍), and usually stuffed with chopped pork and green peppers. Similarly, hamburgers, or any burgers really, are basically meat and lettuce between two buns.


South Africa

Biltong is a famous South African snack and is basically dried meat ranging from beef to ostrich and beyond. They are cut into pieces and seasoned with salt, black pepper, and vinegar. In China, Xinjiang dried meat is quite similar: Salt and special ingredients – which vary from household to household – are cured, resulting in dried meat that’s nutrient-rich and easy to carry. Fun fact: It was invented to help Xinjiang’s minorities stay nourished during the long winter season, and is also believed to be one of the “secret weapons” that gave Genghis Khan’s army its fearsome reputation!

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