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7 International Dishes to Change Up Your Memorial Day Food

BY: Dan Delagrange | May 23, 2017

When it comes to Memorial Day food and cookout ideas, there are plenty of classics. Burgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob, and other staples of American gastronomy hit grills and plates across the nation every year at the end of May, playing a big part in how Americans show pride for their country and culture.

And while burgers and dogs are great, seeing them at every cookout can get a little repetitive. With that in mind, we've subbed out those traditional Memorial Day foods for some borrowed from other cultures around the world. The result? A picnic menu with some unexpected—and very tasty—twists to your everyday summer barbecue.

Elotes (Mexico)

As a Sub for Corn on the Cob

A super-popular street food across Mexico, elotes give corn on the cob a much-needed kick of flavor. The ears of corn are typically grilled or boiled in the husks, which are then peeled back to make way for an array of tasty toppings that usually includes lime juice, mayo, chili powder, and cheese (typically crumbly cotija).

Star Fruit (Southeast Asia)

As a Sub for Watermelon

Natively, star fruit is found throughout the tropics of Southeast Asia. The good news is that it's also readily available in many grocery-store produce sections. The fruit's taste is often described as a sort of cross between an apple and a grape, with a hint of sourness. Because it's packed with juice, it's a nice replacement for watermelon's refreshingly juicy bites. Still not convinced? Consider, then, that its star-shaped slices perfectly complement your Americana decor.

Pitas and Hummus (Middle East)

As a Sub for Potato Chips

Just like the good old potato chip is a staple snack here in the States, you're bound to find some version of pitas and/or hummus in virtually every country in the Middle East and those surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. Pitas play nicely with hummus whether they're soft, in chip form, or fresh off the grill, sporting a nice char. And while Memorial Day isn't the time to worry about a diet, hummus is full of beneficial fat and protein, making it healthier than many traditional Memorial Day food options.

Peri-Peri Chicken (southern Africa)

As a Sub for Barbecue Chicken

This spicier cousin of barbecue chicken gets its name from the peri-peri chili used in its sauce and marinade. The dish is popular in several countries in southern Africa, especially Mozambique, Angola, and South Africa. Making it on a grill is pretty simple, too. First, marinade chicken for a few hours—the exact marinade recipe varies, but it usually calls for stuff you probably already have in your kitchen, like garlic, ginger, and lemon juice. Next, pop it on the grill and glaze it with some peri-peri sauce. Then, as they say in Afrikaans, smaaklike ete!

Loukaniko (Greece)

As a Sub for Brats

The word loukaniko technically refers to any Greek sausage, but in the US, it typically refers to a pork variety that's flecked with fennel, orange zest, oregano, and other spices. You'll likely need to find a Greek market or butcher shop to get your hands on these, but the zip of the orange and the earthy taste of garlic and fennel will make it worth it. Loukaniko is often served in slices, but it's easy to make it more cookout-friendly by putting it on a bun and topping it with some tzatziki sauce.

Australian-Style Burgers (This One Is Obvious)

As a Sub for Burgers

OK, OK, so it's still a burger. But unless you've been down under before, we're willing to bet you've never tried the Aussies' take on it. Atop the usual ground-beef patty sit a fried egg, a grilled pineapple ring, pickled beets, and spicy mayo. It might sound a little unusual, but that's the idea! And since it's a burger, you can always dress it up with more familiar toppings, such as lettuce, tomato, and pickle.

Apple Empanadas (Argentina)

As a Sub for Apple Pie

Though it's not normally packaged into sweet varieties, the empanada—a pocket of rolled dough filled with meats, veggies, and pretty much anything the cook decides is going in there—is hugely popular all over Argentina. Like burgers or pizza here, different regions in Argentina put their own unique spin on the dish. Likewise, it's easy to create your own take on the empanada by using some apple-pie filling and spices. And the best part of this portable little delight? You don't have to share slices.