World Cuisine

Contributor: Tara Ondra. Lesson ID: 13364

What do pad thai, meat pies, sauerbraten, nasi goreng, hamburgers, and tacos have in common? They're a sampling of national dishes from around the world. Get a taste of world cuisine in this lesson.


Health and Wellness, World Cultures

Life Skills
learning style
Auditory, Visual
personality style
Lion, Otter, Beaver, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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So much can be learned about a country and culture through its food.

By going to an ethnic restaurant or doing some experimental cooking at home, you can transport yourself to another country through your senses.

Activate your sense of sight as you explore top dishes from around the world with the video below! As you watch, note which dishes you would like to try and which you wouldn't want to try. Maybe you've already even eaten some of these foods.

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  • Which dishes looked tempting?
  • Did any look strange to you?

Traveling the world, you can see different cultures select different meats, use different vegetables, and add flavor with different spices.

We can't cover foods from all 195 countries in one lesson, but we'll do a sampling from each continent.


The continent of Asia is a giant landmass covering an area of over 44,000 square miles and consisting of 48 countries.

Culinary experts often break down descriptions of Asian cuisine by regions such as Eastern Asian (Chinese, Japanese, Korean), Southeast Asian (Thai, Vietnamese, Malaysian), Central Asian (Tibetan, Mongolian, Kazakh), South Asian (Indian, Bangladeshi, and Pakistani), and West Asian or Middle Eastern food.

map of Asia

A Taste of China

As the world's fourth-largest country with a population of over 1.428 billion inhabitants, Chinese cuisine varies greatly based on geography, availability of ingredients, and influence of the dynasties over time.

Today, Chinese food is classified into eight cuisines or culinary traditions.

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Despite being the second smallest continent, Europe is home to 44 countries, according to the United Nations.

Foods typical of Europe range from crepes in France to haggis in Scotland to pierogies in Poland.

map of Europe

A Taste of Italy

  • Who doesn't love pizza and spaghetti?

What makes Italian foods special is using fresh, high-quality ingredients in simple recipes. Fresh produce such as tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers, such as olive oil and fresh cheeses, predominates the cuisine.

  • Do you know which typical Italian ingredients represent the green, white, and red on the Italian flag?

Discover the answer and learn about the origins of pizza as you watch the following video.

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South America

Consisting of 12 sovereign countries and three dependent territories, South America is home to over 423,500,00 people.

History, geography, and culture shape the cuisine of South America, where you can see a mixing of Spanish, Portuguese, African, Asian, and native ingredients and cooking methods. Some key ingredients are corn, potatoes, peppers, tropical fruits like coconut and mango, and fresh cheese.

A Taste of Brazil

Brazil is the largest country in South America, and its cuisine varies by region, reflecting the mixing of native and immigrant customs and ingredients.

Brazil's national dish is feijoada, which consists of black beans, various cuts of pork and beef, and sausage, and may include different vegetables depending on the region. The dish is served with rice, a side dish of collard greens, orange slices, and a crumbly topping called farofa (manioc flour).

It is believed that this dish originated in the time of slavery in Brazil when enslaved people put together scraps of leftovers from their owners to create a stew.

Watch a portion of the video below to see foreigners trying feijoada.

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As the second largest continent after Asia, Africa covers 20% of the earth's landmass area and is home to 1.3 billion people.

African cuisine can be broken down by region: Northern, Southern, Central, Eastern, and Western. Foods can range from goat meat to peanut stew, to cassava root, to plantains, to couscous, varying by region.

Check out this map of The Culinary Regions of African Cuisine.

A Taste of Nigeria

Nigeria comprises hundreds of ethnic groups, each combining unique ingredients and flavors. Rice, beans, starchy vegetables, and stews are typical of Nigerian food, along with aromatic spices with names like ataiko, uda, and gbafilo.

Learn how to make Nigeria's national dish as you watch the following video.

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Australia is considered both a country and a continent. It is the smallest of the continents.

A Taste of Australia

  • What do people eat in the land down under?

If you like sweets, you'll love pavlovas and lamingtons. For carnivores, meat pies, which are originally of British origin, are the way to go.

Learn as you watch the video below.

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North America

In culinary terms, North American cuisine includes foods from the US, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America, including tacos, hamburgers, apple pie, poutine, and pupusas.

A Taste of Canada

Crispy French fries, gravy, and white cheese curds.

  • Sound yummy?

The classic Canadian poutine is believed to have been invented as recently as the 1950s. Poutine can now be found around the world.

Learn more about this iconic dish in the video below.

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  • Hungry yet?

Keep it going in the Got It? section!

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