Iced tea made from local berries is served with melon and squares of sweet sticky rice topped with fruits and nuts. The nuns eat these sweets on head-shaving day, to replenish their energy. Ari Shapiro/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Ari Shapiro/NPR

Afternoon Tea, 1886. Chromolithograph after Kate Greenaway. If you're looking for finger sandwiches, dainty desserts and formality, afternoon tea is your cup. Print Collector/Getty Images hide caption

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An African-American Army cook at work in City Point, Va., sometime between 1860 and 1865. Food played a critical role in determining the outcome of the Civil War. Library of Congress hide caption

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A late 19th-century samovar made in Tula, Russia, a metalworking town south of Moscow. The very first samovar factory opened in Tula in 1778. As demand for samovars grew, the town became almost synonymous with the production of the giant hot-water urns. Sheldon Luskin Collection/The Museum of Russian Art, Minneapolis hide caption

itoggle caption Sheldon Luskin Collection/The Museum of Russian Art, Minneapolis

In the Fortune Garden kitchen in El Centro, Calif., near the Mexican border, cooks speak to each other in Cantonese, and waiters give orders in Spanish. Courtesy of Vickie Ly/KQED hide caption

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A rabbi (center) supervises the production of Passover matzos at the Streit's factory on New York's Lower East Side, circa 1960s. This Passover will be Streit's last one at the landmark location. AP hide caption

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A Palestinian Bedouin girl milks a sheep in her family's makeshift camp in the West Bank. Herders live close to their animals, their main source of income. Emily Harris/NPR hide caption

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Inside Chef Chane's tiny kitchen. Every few months or years, his landlord — taking note of Chane's popularity — will raise the rent, or a conniving official will demand a bribe. Then, instead of bowing to the system, Chane will disappear and set up in a new location. Gregory Warner/NPR hide caption

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(Left) Sauerkraut and sausage (foreground) cook on the stove at the Hutte Restaurant. (Right) Diners Roxanne Singhisen and Nick Lockyer of Pittsburgh chat at the Hutte. Pat Jarrett for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Pat Jarrett for NPR

The annual Courir de Mardi Gras in Mamou, La., in February 2008. In the Cajun country tradition, revelers go house to house, collecting ingredients for gumbo from local families. Here, the host tosses a live chicken from a rooftop for the participants to catch — which can be tricky, considering the festivities often begin with early-morning drinking. Carol Guzy/Washington Post/Getty Images hide caption

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At Calcutta's famous New Market, vendors do brisk business in fruitcake as Christmas approaches. Sandip Roy for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Sandip Roy for NPR

Wrapped in gold and silver foil, chocolate gelt are often handed out as a little treat for children (and adults) during Hanukkah. Turns out, the tradition is rooted in real money. iStockphoto hide caption

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With over 700 pages and 600 recipes, Mexico: The Cookbook, attempts to document exhaustively the country's varied regional cuisines. Recipes in the book include (from left): potato and chorizo tacos; divorced eggs with tomatillo sauce; and tikin-xik fish, a grouper dish from the Yucatan Peninsula. Courtesy of Fiamma Piacentini-Huff and Phaidon hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Fiamma Piacentini-Huff and Phaidon

"Greek coffee" may be a matter of national pride in the Mediterranean nation. But increasingly, Greeks are embracing espresso, an imported brew, as their cup of Joe of choice. Pawel Loj/Flickr hide caption

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While traditional cholents feature meat and beans cooked for a whole day, some modern versions, like this one, use vegetable protein and a quick braise. rusvaplauke/Flickr hide caption

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Britain's King George II: Snazzy dresser, adventurous eater. Hulton Archive/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Hulton Archive/Getty Images

It's not the prettiest dessert, but it is delicious. Katherine Perry/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Katherine Perry/NPR