The English language doesn’t have a lot of love for the letter X, but plenty of other languages make up the difference.
When it comes to food, international cuisine has become a lot more globally accessible and you may find yourself struggling to understand – not to mention pronounce – certain foods from your favorite menu or cookbook.
In this article, we’ll cover 23 foods that start with X, a few of which are popular in traditional American cuisine, but the majority of which come from international locations.
23 Foods That Start With The Letter X
Xacuti is a popular dish in the Goa region of India, made commonly with chicken. Goa is known for its rich selection of fresh, local fruits, nuts, beans, and, most importantly, spices.
Xacuti is made using a cornucopia of intensely flavored spices, including nutmeg, mace, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, carom seeds, cardamom seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, peppercorns, and, if that wasn’t enough, a healthy supply of garlic and ginger.
To mellow out the spices, freshly toasted shredded coconut is also used.
In traditional Catalan Spanish, xampinyons are mushrooms. While this terminology has largely fallen out of common usage, when mushrooms are used as the dominant ingredient in certain recipes, it elevates the perceived status of the dish.
A few examples are:
- Xampinyons en salsa: mushrooms in salsa
- Crema de xampinyons: Cream of mushroom soup
- Xampinyons a la Provinçal: baked mushrooms with seasoned breadcrumbs
3. Xantham Gum
Xantham gum is more of a food additive than a food, but many people are curious about what it is because it seems to be in everything from salad dressing to gluten-free baked goods and even toothpaste.
Xantham gum begins its life as sugar. When it is fermented by a specific type of bacteria it becomes very sticky and gooey. Adding alcohol turns it into a solid and when that solid is dried and powders, it becomes the additive we know as xantham gum.
In simpler terms, xantham gum is a type of soluble fiber that absorbs water and can improve the texture and shelf life of many foods and personal care products.
4. Xavier Soup
The Feast of Saint Xavier is the traditional Roman Catholic holiday we have to thank for the invention of the classic Italian soup, Xavier soup.
It has a simple, clear chicken broth and equally simple parmesan and parsley dumplings. At first glance, it is underwhelming but, like most traditional Italian food, it is surprisingly flavorful.
To really do this soup justice it should always be made with fresh chicken broth, freshly rolled pasta, freshly picked parsley, and respectfully aged true Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
5. Xavier Steak
Xavier steaks are not made from the meat of mutant cows, though many attribute the name of this steak dish to the popular X-men professor.
In reality, it is a very simply grilled, good-quality steak marinated with Worcestershire sauce, made exceptional by complementary ingredients and the presentation. Each steak is topped with a fan of grilled asparagus and a blanket of Swiss cheese. Of course, it’s also perfectly seasoned with salt, pepper, and olive oil.
6. Xia Mi
Xia mi, sometimes called hai mi, are tiny dried shrimps that are popular in Chinese cuisine. The translation is “rice shrimp” but this causes a lot of confusion in English-speaking countries because it does not refer to shrimp fried rice or rice of any sort. Rather, it refers to the very small size of the shrimp.
Xia mi are often used as filling for dumplings, packing a big salty, umami flavor into a very small space.
7. Xiang Cai
Xiang Cai is Chinese coriander.
In some parts of the world, fresh coriander and coriander seeds have separate names: cilantro and coriander, respectively. In Chinese, it is similar. Coriander seeds are known as Xiang Cai while fresh, green coriander herbs are called Hu Sui Ye.
8. Xiang Jiao
Xiangjiao is the Chinese word for banana. There are some varieties of banana that grow in China, notably Chinese dwarf bananas and Golden Lotus Bananas, which was once thought to be extinct.
For the most part, a Xiang jiao is just a banana by another name, but Chinese cuisine does have a few interesting ways to prepare bananas, such as sweet and savory banana fritters and the famous Chinese toffee bananas.
9. Xiao Long Bao
Xiao long bao are steamed buns popular in Chinese cuisine. When served in English-speaking countries, they’re often called sour dumplings because they’re filled with hot and sour soup.
If you’ve never eaten a freshly steamed doughy bun filled with soup, you can probably still imagine they’re tricky to eat. They’re served in dim sum fashion in a steaming basket, usually atop a bed of steamed cabbage.
Using chopsticks and a won ton spoon, the correct protocol is to dip the dumpling in the provided vinegar sauce, place it on the spoon and poke a hole in it to release the juice. You can then eat the dumpling and finish by slurping up the leftover broth.
Xigua means watermelon in Chinese, though this name is also used in parts of Africa. Being a very large melon that is 95% water, however, it’s not surprising that the majority of the world has adopted the easier to pronounce and highly logical name, watermelon.
If you’re not familiar with this summertime treat, xigua (watermelon) is a large melon with a hard green rind with white stripes. Inside the aqueous flesh is a rich pinky-red color dotted with black, white or black and white seeds.
In addition to plenty of water, there is also a healthy dose of natural sugars, making this fruit very refreshing and satisfying on a hot summer day.
Xihongshi is used to refer to Chinese tomato-based dishes, though it doesn’t directly translate to tomatoes. If you visit a traditional Chinese restaurant, you may find many dishes with this terminology.
- Xihongshi Chao Jidan: Stir-fried tomatoes with eggs
- Xihongshi Jiang Xia: Shrimp in tomato sauce
- Xihonshi Jidan Tang: Egg-drop tomato soup
12. Xilacayota Squash
Xilacayota squash, also sometimes spelled chilacayote, is a unique, speckled squash about the size and shape of a watermelon that grows at high elevations across tropical areas of Central and South America.
Young xilacayota is entirely edible, including the thin rind, flesh, and soft seeds. The fully mature squash, however, has a hard, inedible dark green rind freckled with numerous pale green spots. The flesh is so pale green it is almost white, with dark brown to black inedible seeds dispersed throughout.
The flesh is spongy and moist, similar to eggplant. It’s very mild in flavor, soaking up the flavors of all other ingredients it’s cooked with, making it ideal for soups and stews.
13. Ximenia Caffra
Ximenia caffra is a small tree or shrub that grows throughout much of southeast Africa. All parts of the tree are edible and are commonly consumed as food, including the leaves, roots, and fruit, commonly called sourplum.
The fruits are oblong and about the size and shape of an apricot, though smooth-skinned like a plum. They are green and speckled when they’re young, ripening to coral pink, also freckled. They have the pulpy consistency of plums and are very sour, living up to their name.
They’re commonly preserved as jam or used with other starchy vegetables to create a type of porridge.
14. Xinomavro Grapes
If you’re familiar with Greek at all you may have already guessed that Xinomavro grapes are native to Greece. Xino means sour, and mavro means black. Oddly enough, they aren’t particularly dark grapes, being small, round indigo color.
Xinomavro grapes are not cultivated as a snack, but rather for wine. These interesting grapes are famous for developing into a complex, fruity, and floral red wine that pairs well with rich flavors.
Xiphias, or Xiphias gladius more specifically, is a type of fish most commonly known as swordfish or broadbills. They roam throughout the tropical areas of the major oceans, including the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian oceans. They’re the only species within the family Xiphiidae.
Fishing for xiphias is a popular, highly regulated sport and their meat is somewhat controversial. It’s an oily fish with plenty of Omega-3 fatty acids, but it’s also high on the food chain which makes it more likely to have potentially toxic levels of mercury.
They’re considered delicious, regardless, and their firm meat is usually sold as steaks for grilling.
Xnipec is a cheeky Mexican salsa that can be found in many traditional Mexican restaurants as well as throughout the country itself. The name, Xni-pec, roughly translates to dog’s nose in Mayan, a humorous way of saying the salsa is so hot it will make your nose run.
It’s a fresh, tomato salsa very similar to pico de gallo but with noticeably more habanero. It’s bright and full of flavor but should always be served with a side of sour cream to offer some much-needed cooling.
Xoai is the Vietnamese word for mangoes, which are grown throughout the southern provinces of the country. The varieties grown here are unique from the ones grown in other tropical countries, though notably similar.
Most mangos from Vietnam are either yellow or green The yellow varieties, including xoai cat, xoai ngua, and xoai tuong, have soft, sweet flesh. The green mangoes, on the other hand, like xoai xanh, are quite sour.
Yellow mangoes are more likely to be eaten out of hand or used for dessert and the green varieties are a favorite for green mango salads.
You may be unfamiliar with xocolatl, but you are probably on much closer terms with its modern American relative, the hot chocolate.
Xocolatl is an authentic Aztec hot beverage made with cacao beans. Traditionally, the drink was bitter and spicy, thanks to the practice of adding chili peppers, paste, or seeds to nearly everything.
The word chocolate is thought to be derived from the ancient Aztec word xocolatl, xococ meaning bitter or sour and atl meaning water or drink.
Xoi is an extremely popular Vietnamese sticky rice. Depending on the additional ingredients served with the rice, it can be breakfast, snack, lunch, dinner, or dessert.
If you’re ever at a Vietnamese restaurant or find yourself lucky enough to be eating in Vietnam locally, you may find a variety of dishes including “xoi” in the name.
Some of the most common preparations include:
- Xoi bap: sticky rice with corn and mashed mung beans
- Xoi gac: made with gac fruits
- Xoi man: simply savory sticky rice, prepared with a variety of savory vegetables, meats, herbs, spices, and flavorings
One of the reasons xoi is popular because it’s extremely affordable and easy to cook with basic kitchen equipment. Black beans, herbs, chicken, pork, and eggs are all common ingredients that families of all incomes can generally afford or produce themselves.
A fan favorite in Mexico are xoconostles, the pear-shaped fruit of the xoconostle cactus. It’s a species of prickly pears that grow approximately 3 inches long, with multiple sour fruits per cactus paddle.
Though they aren’t as prickly as the main body of the plant, xoconostles do have thin, hair-width spikes that need to be removed before you can eat the fruit because they will irritate your skin and mouth if they stick you.
When the fruits are ripe they will have smooth, mottled pink and green skin. The texture is similar to a pear or an apple, but they are quite sour to taste. Xoconostles are most commonly used in salsas, sauces and to add a special zip to soups.
Xoubas are one of the most popular ingredients in Spain, particularly in the summer. They are simply small sardines, usually salted and fried or grilled, and served with grilled or boiled vegetables or potatoes. You can also find them tinned after being fried and then stewed.
The tiny fish live in brackish water, moving between the marine and freshwater coastal oceans and inlets from the northern Atlantic Ocean down through the North Sea, Mediterranean, and all the way to the Black Sea.
Xylitol isn’t exactly a food, but it’s become one of the most popular food additives in our modern diets that it may as well be classified as one.
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol, frequently used as a sugar-free sweetener. It’s most commonly added to treats such as gum, candies and mints, and diabetic-friendly sweets. One of the biggest benefits of xylitol is that it adds sweetness without affecting your blood sugar levels.
Though it is called an alcohol, xylitol cannot and will not get you drunk. It’s technically a carbohydrate, but it also doesn’t affect net carbs if you are counting macronutrients.
Xylocarps aren’t any one specific type of food, but rather a category of fruits.
Xylocarps are fruits that have hard, woody shells. The most common example is are coconuts, which have hairy, woody, and very hard outer shells.
Some less common examples are sapote fruits, wood apples, and most palm fruits related to coconuts.
Truthfully, fruits are rarely classified as xylocarps, even if they are within this category, so it’s difficult to know what exactly classifies as a woody shell. Some people include durian fruits as xylocarps whereas others argue their outer skins are thorny and thick, but not woody.
Lychee fruits, wood apples, and baobab fruits also create some confusion over whether or not they should be considered xylocarps, as they do have hard shells, though perhaps not thick enough to be considered woody.
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