Science says hitting up the greasy spoons after the bar won’t prevent a hangover (for that, your best bet is probably aspirin, water and, of course, the
right breakfast foods). Still, that’s no reason to abandon the beloved tradition. After all, everyone knows that alcohol is an appetite enhancer like no other. Following a night of drinking, happening upon a food truck or diner is like seeing an oasis in the desert — except instead of water, this oasis is made of fried food.
So where does the world flock to after last call? Here’s our international guide to late night eats:
For when you need something to soak up those German beers, look no further than döner kebab, a pita bread sandwich stuffed with seasoned meat —
usually lamb — that’s cooked on a vertical rotisserie. You may already be familiar with this Turkish dish, but the Germans really love it, to the tune of nearly two million kebabs consumed in the country each day. There are now more kebab shops in Berlin than Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city. Germany has put its own spin on döner kebab; it’s believed to be the Germans who adapted the dish into a sandwich so that it could be eaten more efficiently.
Photo credit: Flickr user Jason M Ramos
The Germans aren’t the only ones drawn to spit-roasted meat. Tacos al pastor — meaning “shepherd’s style” — are cooked similarly to the döner kebab. Except instead of lamb, it’s pork that’s cooked on a vertical rotisserie known as a trompo, which means “spinning top.” The cooking method was influenced by Lebanese immigrants who came to Mexico at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century during the fall of the Ottoman Empire. The thin slices of pork are served on a tortilla usually accompanied by salsa, onion, cilantro and pineapple. The origins of the pineapple, however, remain a mystery.
Photo credit: Flickr user william.neuheisel
Let’s take a break from the marinated meat for a minute (although we will come back to it, don’t worry) and head to Italy, where the late night snack of choice is a cornetto, which is similar to a croissant but arguably better for two reasons. The first is that a cornetto has a filling, so you can get all different types of flavors, such as chocolate, custard or espresso. The second is that while you typically have to wake up early in the morning to score a fresh croissant, cornettos are baked in the middle of the night, and the cornettari, where you buy them, are open and ready to serve the late night crowd.
Coxinha — which means “little thigh” — is a popular Brazilian dish that involves wrapping shredded chicken in dough shaped like a chicken thigh, hence the name, and then frying it. The base of the dough can be made from potato, flour or cassava, and is typically prepared using the broth from the chicken.
Photo credit: Flickr user Romerito Pontes
By this point, we’re almost certain you’ve heard of poutine, the Canadian late night dish of French fries topped with cheese curds and gravy. It turns out, though, that in the U.K. there’s a similar tradition. One Babbel staffer tells us he used to eat cheesy chips (the British term for French fries) alongside a pot of gravy. We know, we know, sounds just like poutine. But he assures us it’s different. For one, it’s grated cheese on top, and the fries don’t come smothered in gravy but are instead dunked into the pot. Slightly more refined, we’ll give him that.
It’s time to get back to the marinated meats. Sisig is a Filipino dish made from pork that’s seasoned with red onion, chiles, vinegar and calamansi, an Asian citrus fruit. There are many variations (even squid and tofu), but traditionally sisig is pork, including the snout, ear, head and liver. It comes sizzling hot with a side of rice and a raw egg on top.
Photo credit: Flickr user Samantha Celera