Snack Swap Shop

Friends from different backgrounds exchange snacks and dishes of their culture to experience new foods


Ben : One of the reasons that I decided to do an exchange was that I wanted to explore new cultures. I love to travel and I love to see new countries. Luckily, my friend Lance had the brilliant idea to share our cultures and share about our experience to deal with a new culture. I couldn’t say no because I’ve never tried Salvadoran food before. 

Lance: Usually, I eat the same type of food whether it’s fast food or food cooked by my parents. For most of my life, I hadn’t gone out of my way to try new foods because I was satisfied with what I already had, but last year, after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted and I came back to school in person, I craved the idea of trying something new. 

In my junior school year of 2022-2023, I became friends with Ben Meyer, a foreign exchange student from Germany. I wanted to show him my culture, and he wanted to show me his, so we swapped our culture’s foods and snacks.

Overview of Dishes: 

Ben: It was not difficult to decide which dish I wanted to give Lance. I chose to give him schnitzel because it is my favorite dish from my childhood. Schnitzel originated from Austria but there are variations which are from Germany. Every birthday or special day, I wanted to eat schnitzel. Traditionally, it is made from a calf but I made it with pork because calf is very expensive. After you beat the Schnitzel with a mallet to flatten it, you cover it with egg, flour and breadcrumbs. After, you put it in hot oil for 1-3 minutes and then your schnitzel is ready.  I served it with red cabbage that was pickled with vinegar and Spätzle, which are egg noodles. 

Lance: I knew what dish I wanted to give Ben since it meant a lot to me over the years I have eaten it, whether it was after playing soccer or for dinner. I chose to make him pupusas, one of my favorite dishes that I have eaten throughout my life. There are several types of pupusas, but the ones I made for Ben had zucchini, beans and cheese, as they’re the ones I typically eat.

Peraza served homemade zucchini, cheese and bean pupusas with salsa and curtido. (Photo by Lance Peraza).

I wanted to make these myself for Ben, but it was a little rough since it was my first time cooking pupusas, and some of the steps were more advanced. When making pupusas, 0the beans, cheese and a decent amount of dough that I made are put into separate bowls. When taking the dough out of the bowl, it needs to be shaped into a sphere-like shape. Putting the beans and cheese inside is the hard part because placing it inside the dough while maintaining a circular shape isn’t easy. After that, placing it on the stove to heat it up is rather simple. Place the pupusa on either side of the stove pan and alternate sides after three minutes so it doesn’t burn on either side.

Dish Review:


When I tried pupusas, there were two different filling choices – beans and zucchini. The outside of the Pupusa is very crispy and the filling is very smooth. Together, they created a simple delicious dish. It is served with salsa and coleslaw, which Lance added jalapenos to. This addition makes it different from other coleslaws because now it has a little bit of spice in it. That’s why I like this coleslaw more than the American one. 


While I was preparing to cook what I wanted to give Ben, I got to try some of his food. He told me that the dish is called schnitzel and spätzle. My first reaction was surprise since I am used to milder tastes, and the red cabbage along with Jägerschnitzel sauce left a strong taste in my mouth, similar to gravy when I first had it. It caught me off guard, but as I continued eating it, the strong taste I initially experienced faded, making it more enjoyable to eat.

Overview of Snacks:

Ben:  For snacks, I gave Lance a can of trout with tomato sauce. When he was growing up, my dad had to share one fish can with his mother and his two siblings. That’s why my dad often shares a fish can with me and that’s why I gave it to Lance. Additionally, he tried a few of my favorite candies: Bohme fruit caramels, Pick-up, Kinder country, Kinder bons, Prinzenrolle, Knoppers and Hanuta. Most of them are based on chocolate and biscuits.

Meyer’s collection of German snacks ranges from chocolate to herring fish fillet. (Photo by Ben Meyer).

Lance: For snacks I decided to give Ben what I’ve eaten repeatedly over the years: Palitos and Picnic Vanilla Wafers. Palitos are crunchy, barbecue flavored corn sticks, and since I’ve never gotten tired of it, I had a feeling that Ben would also like it. The vanilla wafers aren’t something I always had when growing up, but they were something I’d eat at parties since close family friends or relatives would always have these set out in small baskets along the party tables with other snacks.

Snack Review:

Ben: I got Palitos which for me are chips in the form of fries with a light barbecue flavor. This is funny because we have the exact same thing in Germany which is called Funny Frisch Frit-Sticks. Additionally, I could taste a little bit of corn but the barbecue flavor dominates the corn flavor. The second snack was vanilla wafers. Here I noticed again that the taste and the snacks are available in Germany. You have waffles on the outside and on the inside there is a pleasant taste of vanilla. 

Lance: I also got to try some German snacks. Most of the German snacks were types of chocolate, and I liked a couple of the smaller snacks since I prefer bite-size snacks instead of ones that take more time to eat. It reminded me of eating halloween candy all at once after returning from trick-or-treating. In particular, I liked the Hanuta Minis and Knopper Minis, which are chocolate snacks. The Hanuta he gave me was hazelnut flavored, and it tasted great and crunchy because of the two wafers sandwiching the chocolate. The Knoppers were very similar in taste and shape but were a little more chocolatey, which gave me a stronger taste of chocolate than the Hanuta did. 

Although he did give me a trout with tomato sauce, it was not my personal favorite. Opening the can and seeing the inside filled with tomato sauce made me lose my appetite a little because seeing the inside all red looked somewhat displeasing. Regardless of what I thought, I gave it a try, but the amount of tomato sauce overshadowed the taste of the trout. 


Ben: It was a nice experience to see other cultures’ food and snacks. On the one hand the food was completely different with the flavors and spices, but the snacks were very similar to snacks which we have in Germany like the Vanilla Wafers from the Company Manner or the Palitos, which are similar to Funny Frisch Frit-Sticks. It was the first time that I tried Salvadoran food in my life because restaurants from South America are very rare in Germany.. I’m looking forward to trying more food from the same region or from the whole continent.   

Lance: Getting the opportunity to try snacks and dishes that are far from what I eat at home was enjoyable, and being able to give what I like to someone else made me feel good about what has been a part of my life. Anticipating whether Ben would like my food and if I’d like his was pretty thrilling, and it leaves me wanting to try more of what I haven’t had yet.