Food is one of the most important aspects of travel and it’s one of the most fun to explore. Over the years, our team of top travel bloggers have written a lot about their favorite foods in every corner of the planet. Today we thought we’d highlight our favorites. Make sure you’ve eaten first, because this post is guaranteed to make you hungry!
You haven't had Chinese hot pot until you've had it in Chengdu where the boiling broth turns a rich glowing red from spicy peppers. The secret is Szechuan peppercorns- tiny balls of flavor that will literally make your mouth go numb. Alongside are plates of lamb, beef, tofu and vegetables like bok choy and lotus root: they go in raw and come out tender and spicy. Just make sure you have a drink handy to wash it all down!
While other parts of Italy definitely have good gelato, head to Bologna to try some of the best gelato in the world. The Carpigiano Gelato University is headquartered about 20 minutes away from the city center. Here you can tour the gelato museum, take a peek at the students working in the lab, and the best part – head over to the store for some of the freshest gelato you will taste in Italy.
Traditional fondue in Switzerland is not the giant pot of chocolate or boiling oils for meats for which other countries have coopted. The idea is the same, with skewers of food soaked in a boiling hot pot of liquid and quickly eaten, but one feature is different. Swiss fondue is focused on one item and one item only: cheese. Lots of cheese. A typical pot of fondue will contain about 200 to 250 grams of cheese per person. White wine is mixed in and heated until a uniform and gooey mixture is ready to be eaten. Many restaurants only serve this dish with a heaping pile of bread, but others may also add in potatoes or other vegetables. Regional specialties exist for fondue that make trying this rich dish in every Swiss city a must. Each shop may have their own multi-cheese specialty, with mixtures of 2-4 unique cheeses. Local seasonings, fresh tomatoes, or even bacon may be added, giving this dish a unique taste.
These sugary-sweet meringue concoctions are one of the most difficult French desserts to perfect. Good macarons are characterized by the unique shape of the meringue biscuits. The perfect macaron has a smooth, squared top, with a "ruffled" circumference. Inside, it is filled with flavored ganache, buttercream, or jam. It’s also not uncommon to see savory macrons worked into high-end restaurant tasting menus. The popularity of macarons extends worldwide with regional variations seen in different countries, including within France itself. Countries like Japan are known for featuring local ingredients, like green tea matcha powder, in their signature macarons. Some people refer to a macaron as a macaroon in English, but most agree they are fundamentally different. Macaroons tend to be a coconut cookie, especially in North America. Because there is such an art to perfecting the macaron, people tend to become very loyal to their favorite patisserie. From mistakes with the meringue biscuits to overpowering fillings, there is a lot that can go wrong with macarons. The best way to find your favorite one – sample them from different bakeries of course!
One of the most common dishes to be found around all of Spain is patatas bravas. Irregular cut and fried potato wedges, they are served up hot smothered in spicy tomato sauce and aioli. This varies from bar to bar and region to region, but it’s usually the standard. Shared among friends and eaten with toothpicks, it’s best accompanied with a small glass of beer called a caña.
Forget croissants and cheese: oil is the word of the day when it comes to a traditional full English breakfast, and everything that’s served up on your plate is fried in lashings of it. A few rashers of bacon, a couple of fried eggs and some sausages are the staples of any good full English breakfast, with tomatoes, mushrooms, fried bread, baked beans and black pudding usually winding up on the plate, too. Any greasy spoon worth its salt will serve you up a plate.
If you’re planning a trip to Puerto Rico, this is one dish you have to try. Mofongo is a fried dish made with green plantains mashed together with a concoction of garlic, olive oil, and pork cracklings or bits of bacon – and often served with broth. The fried plantains are filled with anything you can imagine like pork, beef, chicken, seafood, vegetables, shrimp and more. Mofongo can be found in any roadside shack, local restaurants, and even in high-end eateries. Mofongo is the crowning dish of Puerto Rican cuisine, and once you taste it, you’ll see why.
The Asian breakfast to beat them all, nasi goreng is Malaysia’s answer to pancakes with maple syrup, or an English fry-up. Fried rice served with chilies and garlic, mixed in with soy sauce, and possibly some chicken or shrimp, nasi goreng is a great way to start the day, especially since it’s then topped with a fried egg. If you find yourself in Malaysia, track down a street-side breakfast shop and make sure your day begins with a kick of spice.
Let’s give you a quick breakdown of a true Chicago hot dog. It begins with the dog itself. The frank has got to have a characteristic "snap!" when you first bite in. A meal unto itself, this beaut starts with resting the red hot on a poppy seed bun, which is summarily topped with yellow mustard, chopped white onions, sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato slices or wedges, pickled sport peppers and a dash of celery salt. Some people will threaten bodily harm if you add ketchup, but don’t mind them; Chicago is a live and let live town. The best dogs come from Portillo’s, a Chicagoland chain; Chubby Wieners in Lincoln Square; and Hot Doug's, the ultimate purveyor of franks.
If there's one dish most associated with Canadian cuisine it's Quebec's most famous late-night snack: poutine. Sure, this carb-and-grease-laden combination of melted cheese curds, gravy and fresh-cut fries isn't winning any fans in the medical community, but let's face it: no one eats poutine for the health benefits. Poutine is comfort food on steroids, a rare snack that fulfills as heartily as a home-cooked Thanksgiving dinner, but may, in fact, require more exercise to burn off. Served with gusto in a variety of ways, finding the perfect classic poutine in Canada can be like searching out the best sushi restaurant in Tokyo. When in doubt, head over to Montreal, whose residents proudly claim Canada's best poutine and will point you in the direction of their favorite snack-shack.
While this food item isn't traditionally Hawaiian like poke or poi, loco moco has nevertheless become a "Hawaiian" food. Invented in the 1940s, loco moco is essentially a hamburger patty topped with a fried egg and gravy, and then served over rice. It may be a little on the heavy side, but it’s delicious and makes for a great late night snack.
Don’t worry; no rabbits are harmed in the making of bunny chow. This traditional South African dish originated in Durban, as it’s home to a large Indian population. It consists of a scooped-out loaf of bread filled with flavorful curry, vegetables and chunks of chicken, lamb or beef depending on your tastes. In terms of how it came to be, many believe Bunny Chow originated in the 18th century before takeaway containers were invented, hence the use of the bread as a vehicle for the dish. A common street food, Bunny Chow is a great way to enjoy something hearty and tasty on a budget. Caution: Bunny Chow in Durban tends to pack a lot of heat!
Minced sheep innards, onion, suet, oatmeal and spices cooked inside a sheep's stomach. Sounds pretty disgusting, right? But don't let the contents (or how they're prepared) turn you off. The national dish of Scotland isn't actually half bad when prepared correctly. If you're feeling a bit wary, you can try it deep-fried, or perhaps on a taco at Illegal Jack's in Edinburgh.
It's impossible to visit New England without succumbing to the temptation of the lobster roll. Simply seeing the glistening bun, overflowing with juicy chunks of pink lobster, adorned with a splash of mayo and herbs, is enough to send your appetite into a frenzy. Going wrong with a lobster roll is hard, especially at the Yankee Lobster Company in South Boston. At this waterfront eatery, you'll discover everything that's propelled the lobster roll to fame in New England - succulent lobster meat delicately painted with herb-infused mayonnaise and served on a lightly buttered bun.
When exploring Japan's culinary culture, don't forget to sample the takoyaki, or, more plainly put, octopus balls. The dish consists of battered minced octopus dumplings often stuffed with pickled ginger, green onion, and tempura bits and cooked in cast iron pans so that the outside is crisp and the inside is creamy. The meal is typically covered in a creamy sauce akin to a Worcestershire-mayonnaise blend. The origins of the dish date back to the 1930s, when French food was introduced to the Kansai Region. The idea of batter-frying foods became popular, and locals experimented with their local ingredients, for example, octopus. In the end, they were able to create a satisfying and hearty meal. One popular chain loved by locals that serves the popular snack is Gindaco, so make sure to add this to your eating itinerary.
Probably my favorite dish during my visits to Egypt, ful medames is typically served at breakfast, but can be found on lunch or dinner menus as well. Ful is pronounced "fool" and it’s another simple dish that is an Egyptian staple. Ful is made from crushed fava beans that are slow-cooked and seasoned with salt, parsley, garlic, olive oil and cumin. If you have it as part of a big breakfast spread, it may be served with Egyptian bread, local cheese, and spreads like baba ganoush.
In a city that loves its pastries, there’s no doubt that the egg tart is king. They’re commonly found not only in Hong Kong and Macau, but throughout Mainland China as well. The Hong Kong version is a little different though, influenced by British custard tarts instead of a scorched, cartelized exterior the Hong Kong style is smooth and glassy on top. It’s also delicious and thousands are made every day for customers anticipating their sweet fix for the day.
What are some of your favorite foods you've discovered on your travels?
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A luxury adventure traveler at heart, Matt Long shares his experiences with thousands of readers every day through his travel blog, LandLopers.com. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer. Matt is a Washington, DC based travel writer/photographer and has been featured on many other web sites and publications including BBC Travel, CNN GO, Huffington Post, AFAR Magazine and National Geographic Intelligent Travel. His work is also syndicated on the Flipboard and Pulse apps. Follow Matt on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and Google Plus.
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