Traditional food

Traditional foods are foods and dishes that are passed on through generations[1] or which have been consumed for many generations.[2] Traditional foods and dishes are traditional in nature, and may have a historic precedent in a national dish, regional cuisine[1] or local cuisine. Traditional foods and beverages may be produced as homemade, by restaurants and small manufacturers, and by large food processing plant facilities.[3]

Bryndzové halušky (potato dumplings with sheep's-milk cheese) is a traditional food of shepherds in Slovakia.

Some traditional foods have geographical indications and traditional specialties in the European Union designations per European Union schemes of geographical indications and traditional specialties: Protected designation of origin (PDO), Protected geographical indication (PGI) and Traditional specialties guaranteed (TSG). These standards serve to promote and protect names of quality agricultural products and foodstuffs.[4]

This article also includes information about traditional beverages.

Difference between traditional and typical

Although it is common for them to be used as synonyms, the truth is that "traditional" cuisine and "typical" cuisine are considered two different concepts according to culinary anthropology; The first refers to culinary customs that are invariably inherited orally, on a small scale in the family, and a large scale in a community as part of its culture and identity. On the other hand, when we speak of typical (or "popular") cuisine, it is one that most people in a place like and is massively replicated.[5] Therefore, a traditional dish may be typical and vice versa, but neither much less all the typical dishes are traditional nor the traditional ones are typical.

Most traditional dishes are originated from the skill of housewives who creatively and sensibly combined the techniques and ingredients they had on hand to create new recipes. If people like that recipe, it becomes worthy of being imitated. In other words, it is spread and replicated so many times that it becomes a classic recipe. For this reason, the culinary tradition is made up of a vast variety of classic recipes, which are necessarily linked to a land of origin, specific products, and specific local habits. There are classic recipes that can fall into oblivion and disappear forever, but if they are consumed massively, they become part of the typical cuisine of a place. The Mexican culinary anthropologist Maru Toledo adds a third concept to this process, which is that of "typical commercial" cuisine,[6] something that did not exist until the commercialization of cuisine (a process that has occurred very recently, if we observe the complete chronology of food history).

Commercialized cuisine

The commercialized cuisine appropriates the characteristics of the traditional (even the same adjective "traditional", on numerous occasions) but the aim is none other than economic profit. For this reason, it does not want to delve into the origin, nor in the context, much less the diversity around the dishes, it sells. Finally, the mainstream population, generally without much culinary knowledge, believe that the food they are buying is their own, thus happening a kind of food acculturation[7] and simplifying the diversity of products, techniques, recipes and other culinary aspects of the tradition.

By continent


Freshly harvested Bambara groundnuts


Traditional food products have been described as playing "an important part of European culture, identity, and heritage".[8]

South America

Wrapped humitas being cooked
  • Humita – a traditional food in Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, and Peru

By country




  • Poutine râpée[11]
  • Fricot


Eating spring pancakes on the day of Lichun in a restaurant
  • Ciba cake
  • Dim sum
  • Fuling jiabing – a traditional snack food of Beijing and an integral part of the city's culture. It is a pancake-like snack made from flour, sugar, and fuling (Poria), rolled around nuts, honey, and other ingredients.
  • Spring pancake – a traditional Chinese food unique to the northern regions. People eat spring pancakes on the day called lichun to celebrate the beginning of spring.
  • Zhongzi - sticky rice with savory or sweet ingredients wrapped in bamboo leaves and boiled. Made to commemorate the poet and minister Qu Yuan during the Dragon boat festival.

Costa Rica



Czech Republic


  • Mulgipuder
  • Sepik


Faroe Islands

Faroese puffins prepared for the kitchen in Dímun


A store-bought Karelian pasty




  • Fiambre is a traditional Guatemalan dish that is prepared and eaten yearly to celebrate the Day of the Dead (Día de Los Muertos) and the All Saints Day (Día de Todos Los Santos).




Tumpeng is an Indonesian national dish
  • Brem – a fermented snack and beverage from Java and Bali
  • Docang – a traditional food from Cirebon
  • Gado-gado – a traditional salad in peanut sauce dressing
  • Gudeg – a young unripe jackfruit stew, a traditional food from Yogyakarta
  • Ketupat – a traditional rice dumpling commonly served during Lebaran, Indonesian idul fitri
  • Kuluban – an ancient Javanese traditional salad
  • Lawar – a traditional Balinese vegetable dish
  • Opor ayamchicken in coconut milk stew, a traditional dish commonly consumed with ketupat during Lebaran
  • Pallubasa – a traditional food from Makassar, South Sulawesi made from offal of cattle or buffalo
  • Papeda – sago congee, a traditional staple of Eastern Indonesia (Maluku and Papua)
  • Rendang – traditional Minangkabau dish from West Sumatra
  • Satay – grilled meat on skewers, various traditional regional variants exist in Indonesia
  • Soto – a category of traditional soup of Indonesia, numerous regional variations exist
  • Tempeh – fermented soy cake, traditional food from Java
  • Tumpeng – a ceremonial rice cone surrounded by various side dishes, an Indonesian national dish





By designation of origin


  • Panna cotta – The northern Italian Region of Piedmont includes panna cotta in its 2001 list of traditional food products of the region.[19] Panna cotta is not mentioned in Italian cookbooks before the 1960s,[20][21] yet it is often cited as a traditional dessert in Piedmont.


Mochi for sale at a Japanese mall.
  • Mochi – eaten year-round in Japan, mochi is a traditional food for the Japanese New Year and is commonly sold and eaten during that time


Traditional beverages in Jordan include sous (also referred to as 'irqsus), a drink prepared using the dried root of Glycyrrhiza glabra (liquorice), tamr hindi, a drink prepared from an infusion of the dried pulp of Tamarindus indica (tamarind), and laban (labneh), a drink prepared with yogurt and water.[3] A significant amount of labneh in Jordan and nearby countries continues to be prepared using the traditional method of "straining set yogurt in cloth bags".[3]




Grey peas with bacon and radish.



Two pieces (ari) of industrially-produced Maldive fish


  • Lent in Malta § Traditional food eaten throughout the period
    • Kwareżimal – Lent cake



  • Dhindo


Saudi Arabia





Swedish falukorv sausage, split in half.






  • Malewa – smoked bamboo shoot which is dried for preservation. The food originated from Eastern Uganda in the Bugisu sub-region


Cottage pie



Haggis on a platter at a Burns supper.

United States

Southern United States


  • Laplap – a national dish


By region

Arab states of the Persian Gulf

Commonwealth Caribbean

Levant (Eastern Mediterranean)

Traditional foods of the Levant include falafel, fuul, halawa, hummus, kanafeh, labaneh, medammis and tahini.[3] among others. The most popular traditional foods in the region are those prepared from legumes, specifically, falafel, fuul, hummus and medammis.[3]

European Union


Southern Africa

See also


  1. "... the sizzle of the traditional Sunday roast."[18]
  2. "Food in the Maldives may be thought of in three categories: the traditional fare, Sri Lanka cuisine, and the newer imported foods. The traditional fare is mostly fish boiled in a broth called Gaudiya, and coconut pieces ..."[22]
  3. "England's best-known traditional dish is fish and chips ..."[33]
  4. "... the Sunday roast; the tradition is continued every Sunday lunchtime in pubs and restaurants across England."[34]


  1. Kristbergsson, K.; Oliveira, J. (2016). Traditional Foods: General and Consumer Aspects. Integrating Food Science and Engineering Knowledge Into the Food Chain. Springer US. pp. 85–86. ISBN 978-1-4899-7648-2.
  2. Saunders, Raine (October 28, 2010). "What Are Traditional Foods?". Agriculture Society. Retrieved 8 April 2015.
  3. Who Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean (2010). Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point Generic Models for Some Traditional Foods: A Manual for the Eastern Mediterranean Region. World Health Organization. pp. 41–50. ISBN 978-92-9021-590-5.
  4. "Geographical indications and traditional specialties".
  5. Midori Hernández, A. (2016). "El fogón de las "Mujeres del Maíz"" (PDF). Cultura Jalisco (in Spanish). 7: 6. Retrieved 2021-04-29.
  6. Gómez, A. "Entrevista a Maru Toledo" (video). YouTube. Retrieved April 29, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. Guelmami, Z. "L'acculturation à distance Dans Une société de consommation globalisée: le cas de la sous-culture lipophile française" (PDF). Place du Maréchal de Lattre de Tassigny (Paris Dauphine University).
  8. Guerrero, L.; et al. (November 1, 2010). "Consumer-driven definition of traditional food products and innovation in traditional foods. A qualitative cross-cultural study". Appetite. 52 (2): 345–354. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2008.11.008. PMID 19084040. S2CID 17169454.
  9. Usher, Peter J. Evaluating Country Food in the Northern Native Economy (PDF). pp. 105–120.
  10. Wein, Eleanor E.; et al. (1990). "Food Consumption Patterns and Use of Country Foods by Native Canadians near Wood Buffalo National Park, Canada". Arctic. 44 (3): 196–206. doi:10.14430/arctic1539.
  11. Publishing, DK (2014). DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Canada. Eyewitness Travel Guides. DK Publishing. p. 32. ISBN 978-1-4654-2221-7.
  12. Long, L.M. (2015). Ethnic American Food Today: A Cultural Encyclopedia. Ethnic American Food Today. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 135. ISBN 978-1-4422-2731-6.
  13. "Products and Recipes". Cyprus Tourism Organisation. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  14. "Σφαγή χοίρου & Παρασκευή παραδοσιακών αλλαντικών". Cyprus Food Virtual Museum. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  15. Helfman, G.; Burgess, G.H. (2014). Sharks. Sharks. Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 183. ISBN 978-1-4214-1310-5.
  16. Albala, K. (2011). Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia [4 volumes]: [Four Volumes]. ABC-CLIO. p. 195. ISBN 978-0-313-37627-6.
  17. Kalland, A. (2009). Unveiling the Whale: Discourses on Whales and Whaling. Environmental Anthropology and Ethnobiology. Berghahn Books. p. 166. ISBN 978-1-84545-955-0.
  18. Davenport, F. (2010). Dublin. City Travel Guide Series. Lonely Planet. p. 151. ISBN 978-1-74179-220-1.
  19. Riccardo Brocardo, "I prodotti agroalimentari tradizionali del Piemonte a quota 370", full text Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine
  20. Camilla V. Saulsbury, Panna Cotta: Italy's Elegant Custard Made Easy, p. 14
  21. Luigi Carnacina, Luigi Veronelli, "Panna Cotta", La Cucina Rustica Regionale 1:156, 1977, based on La Buona Vera Cucina Italiana (not seen), 1966
  22. Maloney, Clarence (1980). "Garudiya",+traditional+food People of the Maldive Islands. Orient Longman. ISBN 9780861311583. Retrieved 27 March 2016.
  23. Edelstein, S. (2009). Food, Cuisine, and Cultural Competency for Culinary, Hospitality, and Nutrition Professionals. Jones & Bartlett Learning. pp. 66–73. ISBN 978-0-7637-5965-0.
  24. Capirotada The Zenchilada page 102 Winter 2011]
  25. Tatum, C.M. (2013). Encyclopedia of Latino Culture: From Calaveras to Quinceaneras [3 Volumes]: From Calaveras to Quinceañeras. Cultures of the American Mosaic. ABC-CLIO. p. 466. ISBN 978-1-4408-0099-3. Retrieved March 27, 2016.
  26. Schanbacher, W.D. (2010). The Politics of Food: The Global Conflict Between Food Security and Food Sovereignty. Praeger Security International Series. Praeger Security International. p. 42. ISBN 978-0-313-36328-3.
  27. Sparks, P.; Swanson, B. (1993). Tortillas!: 75 Quick and Easy Ways to Turn Simple Tortillas Into Healthy Snacks and Mealtime Feasts. St. Martin's Press. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-312-08912-2.
  28. Adapon, J. (2008). Culinary Art and Anthropology. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 15. ISBN 978-1-84788-455-8.
  29. Herbst, R.; Herbst, S.T. (2015). The Deluxe Food Lover's Companion, 2nd edition. Barron's Educational Series. p. pt901. ISBN 978-1-4380-7621-8.
  30. Dieterle, H.; Friedman, A. (2014). Harold Dieterle's Kitchen Notebook. Grand Central Publishing. p. pt45. ISBN 978-1-4555-2864-6.
  31. Greenberg, P. (2012). The Best Places for Everything: The Ultimate Insider's Guide to the Greatest Experiences Around the World. Rodale Books. p. 271. ISBN 978-1-60961-829-2.
  32. Speake, Jennifer; LaFlaur, Mark, eds. (2002). The Oxford Essential Dictionary of Foreign Terms in English. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199891573. Retrieved 3 July 2019 via Oxford Reference.
  33. Andrews, R. (2011). The Rough Guide to England. Rough Guides. p. 62. ISBN 978-1-4053-8845-0.
  34. Holland, E. (2012). Pocket Guide to Edwardian England. Createspace Independent Pub. p. pt12. ISBN 978-1-4781-1344-7.
  35. Gabriel, J. (2014). How to Cook Like a Southerner: Classic Recipes from the South's Best Down-Home Cooks. Thomas Nelson. p. 31. ISBN 978-1-4016-0506-3.
  36. "Try traditional Southern foods for New Year's". Bradenton Herald. December 31, 2008. Retrieved March 27, 2016.

Further reading

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