In the great pantheon of comfort foods, the peanut butter and jelly sandwich is one of America’s top contributions. But it ranks among some tasty global competition. Every region has its favorite foods, and is as fiercely devoted to them as we are to ours. Through these illustrations, we travel around the globe to recognize some of the most beloved “PB&J parallels” from around the world. Take a look.
This sushi-inspired treat rose to popularity after World War II and is now an iconic snack across the islands. Different versions abound but, basically, it’s a compact slab of salted rice, topped with a slice of deep-fried Spam and wrapped in ribbon of dried nori (or seaweed).
Common in kids’ school lunch boxes and convenience shops, onigiri is made from white rice shaped into small triangles or balls and then covered in seaweed.
As delicious as it is simple, this decadent “sandwich” involves enveloping an unwrapped bar of chocolate in a generous cut of fresh baguette.
A cousin of the more refined bruschetta, this easy afternoon snack just requires a thick piece of good bread, a perfectly ripe tomato, a sprinkle of salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.
The perfect snack for a sweet tooth, this popular Latin American treat combines dulce de leche with shortbread cookies.
A culinary mainstay across the pond, beans on toast is as straightforward as it sounds. Toast a few slices of bread, heat up some baked beans in a saucepan and you’ve got yourself a proper meal.
It may be more complicated to make than the typical PB&J but this favorite lentil curry and bread dish is arguably as pervasive across India.
Made from coconut milk, sugar, eggs and the tropical plant pandan, Kaya is a delectable jam popular across Southeast Asia. To eat it like a local, toast a thin piece of white bread, then load it up with a layer of kaya and a thin slab of butter.
Any meal can feel festive in the Netherlands, where they commonly dust chocolate sprinkles on buttered bread for breakfast, lunch and all manner of snacks in between.
The bitter taste can take some getting used to, but if you’re ready to eat Aussie-style, toast your bread of choice and then top it off with a good helping of Vegemite and butter.
The peanut butter and jelly sandwich may be a classically American staple, but the emotional pull of a time-tested food is universal. Growing up in the cracks between cultures, I came to love comfort foods of all kinds and to appreciate how ingrained — and defining — the idiosyncrasies of different cultures’ tastebuds can be. In this illustrated story, we do a little virtual globetrotting to recognize some of the most beloved “PB&J parallels” around the world — and to explore the unique nostalgia that connects place and taste.
Ki Mae Heussner, Editorial
Illustrations by Cindy Suen