Foodie Fun! Unique Buns Found Around the World

 Buns are popular among foodies around the world. They are eaten as snacks, in appetizers, main course meals and countless other ways.

Each society that traditionally makes buns has one or two exotic types to boast of as well as different exciting and unconventional preparation methods. Moreover, some buns hold a lot of cultural significance. So, there’s more in the world of buns than what you’re probably already used to.

Unique designs

One interesting thing about some buns is their appearance. Some are very pleasant to look at and tasty while others often leave people wondering whether they should hold them in the first place. One bun that would easily win a pageant is the Tingmo bun.

Originally from Tibet, this steamed bread comes in different designs, commonly mimicking flowers and shells.

The Japanese Melonpan is another design marvel. Like melons, they are oval, with either diamonds or lines shaped on top. Some bakers even add faces, feet, and dyes to turn them into “turtle melon buns.”

Still, in Asia, Momo buns are a favorite type of dumpling. Unlike ordinary buns, they are chiefly steamed to retain the white color of the dough. Momos are designed into swirls which result in different unique shapes.

In Europe, England has the Chelsea buns to brag about. The classic bun roll is famous for its square, spiral shape although there are round alternatives. Once cooked, it is spread with a mixture of brown sugar and currants before being glazed with syrup. This gives it a deep, brown glossy outlook.

The Belgian bun, on the other hand, is probably the catchiest of buns. It is a simple bread roll topped with icing and half a cherry or red grape. The topping gives it a neat and beautiful finish.

Although buns are often a baker's canvas, some take design to a whole new level. The Mexican Pan de Muerto, for instance, is an eye-catcher but not entirely because of beauty. Natives decorate them with bone-looking shapes and skulls in extreme cases. It is further topped with unsalted butter and powdered sugar to give it a dull matte outlook. Some families replace the bones and skulls with mimicked cream drawings of their loved ones.

Interesting preparation methods

Another unique aspect about buns lies in their preparation. Some are made very unconventionally. For example, Sufganiyot are buns that some members of the Jewish community love. They are filled with red jam and deep-fried instead of baked. Once cooked, they are topped with crushed sugar or other toppings.

Another type of bun that whose preparation is unique is the Shanghai specialty known as the Shengjian mantou. These small pork-filled buns are pan-fried in clusters to make their bottoms hard and crispy. While still cooking, the chef sprinkles the top of the dough with water. The result is a combination of half-fried and half-steamed bun. Due to their size, they are sold in fours and mostly taken with soup.

Apart from their methods of preparation, some buns are stuffed with unusual fillings. In Hong Kong, the Cocktail bun is stuffed with shredded coconut, while the Tuna bun is filled with tuna paste. Another stuffing alternative is red bean paste, which is common in many parts of Asia. Buns with this filling include Anpan and the Jjinppang, a Korean specialty. However, when it comes to stuffing, the Bánh bao steals the show.

Originally made in Vietnam by Cantonese immigrants, the bun is stuffed with almost every type of food you can think of. It can contain meat, boiled eggs, mushrooms, and different vegetables. Such a filling, though extreme, makes it a highly nutritious meal.

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The amazing cultural and historical value of buns

In most cases, we eat buns simply because they are food. However, in different societies, some buns are way more than food. Some remind people of certain important historical events; they’re therefore used to celebrate specific occasions. A good example is the Hot cross bun. This is a type of sweet bun with a pronounced cross in the middle. Traditionally, Christians ate them specifically during Easter. They are popular around the world, including South Africa and Australia. These buns are further associated with several beliefs. For instance, some people believe that they can heal a sick person well and protect homes.

In America, two buns carry a lot of significance. First, the Honey bun has been part of the correctional system for a long time. Prisoners use it as a form of currency within state prisons. The inmates buy the buns from prison canteens and use them in trading favors amongst themselves. This has been a prison tradition for many years since money and cigarettes are considered contraband.

The honey buns are made predominantly made with honey and cinnamon for flavor and topped with sugar. Another bun that is rich in history is the Colston bun. This rare bun is huge and round, with eight equal divide marks. They were given to needy school children to take home to their families on Colston Day.

The Pan de Muerto bun, whose unusual design we have already discussed, plays a huge role in most Mexican societies. These 'soul buns' are eaten during the Día de los Muertos holiday, which translates as “the day of the dead.” This is a two-day ceremony to commemorate the life of deceased loved ones. It is usually eaten together with the favorite foods of the commemorated relative.

Lastly, we have the Bulla cake from Jamaica. It is used informally as a symbol of development for the developing country. It is an inexpensive bun made using flour, yeast, molasses, and readily available spices, like ginger.

While buns are an integral part of our diet, it is interesting to learn just how different they are worldwide. Some bear the scars of history, some maintain people’s traditions while others simply express people’s distinctiveness and creativity. If you have a certain type of bun you love, chances are you’ll be surprised to know its real significance after conducting a little research.

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