By J.G. Noll

It’s no secret that one of the best ways to really understand a place is to eat its food. From ramen to fried tomatoes, sushi to Vegemite, Yorkshire pudding to pizza, military families expand their palates and experiences through the local delicacies in their area. The holidays are no different. No matter where you’re stationed, the holiday season offers everyone a chance to sample treats you may not otherwise try.

We talked to military spouses stationed around the world, and here’s what they said you simply can’t ignore:

1. Buc-ee’s Pecan Cinnamon Roll Crunch Popcorn, Texas

Buc-ee's! from Flickr via Wylio
© 2012 viviandnguyen_, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

If you’re looking for an authentic Texan treat, look no further. Buc-ee’s, a Lone Star institution in itself, offers a variety of snacks at their gigantic stores, including gourmet popcorn.

2. Chimney Cake (Kürtőskalács), Central Europe

DSC_0051 from Flickr via Wylio
© 2013 Cait_Stewart, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

More than one spouse who has lived in Germany pointed out chimney cakes. They’re tall, chimney-shaped Hungarian pastries made from a sweet yeast dough that has been cooked on a spit. It’s crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Make sure to eat yours warm– straight from the spit– and rolled in your favorite topping. Not sure what is your favorite? Guess you’ll have to try them all!

3. Malasadas from Leonard’s Bakery, Hawaii

Lilikoi malasadas from Flickr via Wylio
© 2010 Joy, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

Originally a Portuguese pastry, malasadas are fried balls of yeast dough that are sugared. Traditional malasadas don’t have fillings, but some bakeries are now cooking up varieties with cream or fruit fillings.

4. Creme Brulee at Ode Brewing, El Paso, TX

Creme Brulee from Flickr via Wylio
© 2008 Seabamirum, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

Creme brulee is a dessert often found on menus across the country and world, but one military spouse swears by this particular one. If you’re in Ft. Bliss,  go check it out!

5. Dampfnudel, Germany, Austria, and France

Rezept Bad Reichenhaller: Dampfnudeln mit Gewürz-Zwetschgen from Flickr via Wylio
© 2013 Bad Reichenhaller, Flickr | CC-BY-ND | via Wylio

This steamed dumpling can be served as a savory or sweet dish, depending on what you’ve got a taste for. If you’re looking for a holiday treat, you might find it with vanilla custard, jam, or boiled fruit.

6. Almond Roca, Washington State

Almond Roca from Flickr via Wylio
© 2012 Alice Seba, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

If you like chocolate-covered crunchy things, you’re going to love Almond Roca. Created and manufactured in Tacoma, imagine this sweet treat as the American, chocolaty, almondy version of English toffee.

7. Cannoli, Philadelphia

cannoli € 1,80 from Flickr via Wylio
© 2016 brando.n, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

Fried dough filled with sweet cream and chocolate chips? Count us in! Spouses stationed in the area say you’ve got to drive into the city to grab an authentic cannoli over the holidays.

8. Christmas Cake, Julian, CA

Red Velvet Cake from Flickr via Wylio
© 2009 Roxanna Salceda, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

More than one spouse  stationed in Southern California sang the praises of the Julian Pie Co., with one spouse currently stationed in Japan ordering a cake from the bakery for Christmas. That must be some fantastic cake!

9. Sopapillas, New Mexico

Cinnamon Sopapillas at lazy Ox Canteen from Flickr via Wylio
© 2010 djjewelz, Flickr | CC-BY-ND | via Wylio

While the hollow, honey-filled doughnut is a year-round treat, the holidays are always a great time to try old favorites.