When we tell people we have been a year in Indonesia, they say “I love Indonesian food”. With all this food around me (and its tasty food), is there a must-try dish I would recommend? What is the best food in the world?
Lorelei (California Globetrotter) was hosting an Afternoon Tea Party, and I began reminiscing about the delightful afternoon teas I used to enjoy in the UK, but which delicious dishes would people recommend from their own Country? Which tasty food did they enjoy from their travels?
We asked our travel friends, who told us their cultural food favourites from around the world. Feet Do Travel share world food: delicious dishes to try.
By Carole from Paul and Carole Love to Travel
Fish & Chips from England, UK
We are English and love a portion of fish and chips from our local chippy! Chunky deep fried chips with a piece of cod or haddock battered to perfection really does hit the spot, we love our peas too so always add a portion too. Ye Olde Fish and Chip Shop in our home city of Gloucester has apparently been serving fish and chips since 1946 and the building itself dates back to the 1500’s.
One of our favourite destinations is Thailand and we love the food there. One particular favourite is Tempura Prawn which we have a daily fix of. Paul even has a top 10 and the current winner at the moment is Mama Dang’s in Choeng Mon, Koh Samui!
Gulab Jamun, India
India is a vast country and its landscape and cuisine both rich and varied. Multiple cultures straddling the pages of history have left their indelible influence on the Indian cuisine. The sweetness of India is best experienced through the magic of its sweets and desserts.
One sweet dish that is made in millions of homes, eateries, and restaurants across the country is Gulab Jamun. Gulab Jamun is made of milk solids, sugar and refined flour, and is a signature dish for all kinds of celebrations, festivals, weddings, birthdays. The dish has Persian origins and some theories even trace it to the personal chef of Shah Jehan who commissioned the construction of the Taj Mahal.
Whatever the history, the Gulab Jamun is sure to seduce with its perfect curves, golden brown complexion, an intoxicating fragrance of roses and a taste that is sure to titillate your Fungiform Papilla (taste receptors that recognize sweet flavors located on your tongue). So if you are in India do try the Gulab Jamun.
When we were in Zurich we passed a dimly lit street cafe, and saw people sitting around a pot at the center of a table, which being heated by a lamp. We were told “you must have Fondue when you are in Switzerland”. That was our first introduction to Fondue.
Fondue is a dish inextricably woven into Swiss culture. Melted cheese is infused with garlic powder and other ingredients and kept on a slow fire. Using Fondue forks, one can dip pieces of bread or skewered veggies, etc., in the melted cheese and eat.
We tried the fondue on a later day and loved it. We dipped cauliflower florets, bell peppers and pieces of bread into the warm fondue. Somehow fondue evoked the flavors and aromas of the mountains and lush green pastures which dot Switzerland. We really felt the magic of Switzerland in our hearts and through our stomach.
Burger & Fries, San Diego, California, USA
Coming from San Diego, California, you can bet that there is a wide variety of good food, which I miss terribly. Being so close to the border of Mexico, you can bet your hot buns that Mexican food is high on the list of must-try foods in California. But, if you were to ask a homegrown Californian what to eat, they will probably tell you to get a vintage style, freshly made-before-your-eyes burger from In-N-Out with a side of fries.
And not JUST any ol' side of fries. Animal Style fries. Go crazy and get your fries covered in cheddar cheese, grilled onions and In-N-Out's special sauce! Be brave, and even order your burger Animal Style. Want to be a dare devil and add 3, 4, 5 + patties on your burger? Go for it, I double dog dare ya!
But, don't look for it on the menu because you won't find it. It's a secret menu true lovers of In-N-Out know about, although these days, it's not so secret anymore! Just let out your belt buckle a notch or two!
Ok, let's class it up a bit here! Since moving to Europe, I have come to be obsessed with the coffee and cake culture, especially in Vienna. From 2-3pm, sometime between lunch and dinner, it's always coffee and cake time. A little snack to get you through those long, painful hours of waiting until dinner time.
But, I don't drink coffee. So, in 2015 when I visited a friend in England, I was introduced to Afternoon Tea. I honestly, couldn't believe my English family had never introduced me to this after years of visiting them! As a Christmas gift, a friend brought pre-packaged ingredients to make scones from Ireland. I had the china set, I had the scone mixture, I had the willing husband to help me bake everything.
My birthday was coming. Sounded like the perfect ingredients to host my very own, homemade Afternoon Tea Birthday Party! If you're coming to Europe, you simply have to indulge yourself in the cake culture!
A good old traditional English fry up is basically a heart attack on a plate. The number of calories in this gastronomical delight can be staggering. If you double up your sausages, bacon and eggs (fried or scambled?) throw in fried bread, toast or slice of bread to make a bacon butty, that’s your daily allowance right there. Add some mushrooms and grilled tomato for the token healthy food. Some places go the extra mile and add chips alongside hashbrowns (do you want carbs with your carbs?), and all come with a mug of tea or coffee. You can’t have breakfast without a cuppa.
Some people smother their breakfast in Tomato Ketchup, others swear by HP Brown Sauce. I always squirt on the side of my plate and dip my bacon butty.
What is the secret to a really good English breakfast? Baked beans! Lashings of baked beans, it’s just not a proper breakfast without them.
If you are visiting the UK and want to set yourself up for the day, most cafes, pubs and restaurants will serve a variation of an English breakfast, even supermarkets and campsites are in on the act. If you have the stomach to face it, the Trojan Breakfast (at the Trojan Cafe, Bristol Road, Gloucester) would surely qualify for a Man v Food competition!
In the UK we were lovers of Chinese food whether it be a take-away or “all you can eat”. Nothing, however, beats Chinese food in China.
The food is to die for, delicious is an understatement. Every single meal was mouth-watering and I struggle to pick my favourite out of all the dishes I tried. Dumplings in Xian, Peking Duck in Beijing, Sichuan flavours in Chengdu, lemon chicken in Yangshuo, but I think Zongzi (also known as Grandma's Dumplings) in Zhu-jia-jiao just sneaks into the lead. Zhu-jia-jiao (“Venice of China” )is about an hour out of Shanghai and there are vendors selling this delicious snack, some sell up to 30,000 a day!
When walking around the market stalls, we watched a little old lady tying up the flavoured rice and pork parcels. These pillow shaped parcels were wrapped in a banana leaf, tied up with plant stems then boiled.
Unbeknown to us, these tasty little packages would end up on our plate. They don’t look as tasty as other foods, but believe me when I tell you they taste divine! If you are visiting Shanghai or Zhu-jia-jiao, make sure you seek out Zongki!
Mante, Beirut, Lebanon
Being a bit of a foodie, my travel itinerary generally has a list of authentic must-trys from a destination country’s cuisine.
On a recent trip to Beirut, I was keen to be indulging in Lebanese cuisine but didn’t really think there would be too many surprises. Lebanese cuisine is not unusual in Australia (where I’m from), and having lived in Dubai for the past 4 years, it’s a fairly common cuisine on our table.
The famous Mayrig Restaurant was on my list. Family run with recipes handed down through generations. We over ordered as usual, but I still asked if we had missed anything.
“Mante”, the waiter said.
Described on the menu as “meat dumplings with tomato sauce & yoghurt” - not particularly inspiring, but if the waiter recommended it, how could we refuse?
This dish was brought to Lebanon in 1915 by Armenian refugees. As that was 103 years ago we figured it was, by now, a local dish.
Small dumplings are filled with a spiced minced meat steamed and then placed in a metal pan and browned. The slowly reduced tasty “tomato sauce” is poured over the dumplings tableside. Rich yoghurt is spread over the sauce and the final touch - a sprinkling of delicious tart sumac.
Should you see it on a menu, it’s a must-try!
Less adorned and best devoured straight from the salt waters of Coffin Bay in my home state of South Australia, are some of the best oysters I’ve tasted around the world. I try to be objective but really, you can’t beat them in my hometown, especially if you visit the oyster farm.
Plump delights exploding with the fresh taste of the sea in every bite. Cracked pepper, a squeeze of lemon and a glass of crisp Chablis, it doesn’t get much better.
Happily, travel and food go hand in hand! Here are two of our favorites from home and abroad. Enjoy!
Barbeque from Dallas, Texas, USA
The former Republic of Texas holds onto its heritage, right down to having a National Dish. Although debate rages between Tex-Mex lovers and Chicken Fried Everything aficionados, we’re here to set the record straight: It’s Barbeque. Dry rubbed, slow cooked, smoked meats, and lots of them.
This is no chain restaurant cuisine, so every city – and every family – has their favorites. Ours is Hard Eight in Dallas. It’s the kind of place where the Pit Master serves you, and you can eat on the porch. We can’t say there is just one Must Have cut, but we do like the ribs. And the brisket. And some sausages (spicy and wimpy), one of their giant pork chops, some pulled pork and, if it’s the weekend, Prime Rib. It is the taste of Texas.
Irish cooking means potatoes, right? To be honest, they are in about everything, including our favorite Irish dish: Stew. With different variations from around Ireland, it’s hard to pick just one Must Try bowl. Instead, we suggest tucking into a “stew flight” at Boxty House in Dublin.
A Stew Flight? Be still me Irish ticker! Boxty’s Stew Platter is a trio of stews to give you a taste tour of Ireland: Irish Stew (lamb and barley), Beef & Stout Stew (made with in-house Jack Smyth Stout), and a Dublin Coddle (made with bacon and pork sausage). No doubt, it’s grand as they come.
Whatever the variety, these must try meals are truly the tastes of their cultures.
Kastinys from Lithuania
Here at MapTrotting, we get a double helping of local fare as Kristina and I (Charlie) are from different corners of Europe.
I’d always suggest sampling some traditional Fish and Chips if you’re visiting my home country, England. The pinnacle of the week for many families across the country is a good old Friday fish supper. To get the freshest battered cod or haddock make sure you seek out a good local Fish and Chip Shop which specialises in this delicious dish. The potatoes should have been chipped and fried the same day with the fish battered and fried on the spot too for the true taste. Don’t forget to add a side portion of Mushy Peas to top it all off. Yum!
Kristina recommends trying some Kastinys (Samogitian sour buttercream), a traditional dish from her native Lithuanian which is usually served as a starter with hot boiled potatoes. Kastinys is made from natural sour cream, buttermilk and butter, flavoured with herbs and garlic.
The ingredients are expertly mixed together on a low heat until the mixture turns into a creamy butter-like consistency. It tastes as delicious as it sounds and is perfect way to refuel on a cold Baltic winter's evening.
Available across Lithuania, Kristina suggests popping into the famous HBH restaurant and brewhouse close to Palanga on the Baltic coast.
During our time in Southeast Asia we enjoyed plenty of delicious local dishes. One unexpected joy was Cao lầu, a noodle based dish with pork and local greens in Vietnam. It’s a local speciality of the Hoi An area, where we based ourselves for a couple of months, so we got through a fair few bowls of this delicious local treat. We even found a vegetarian restaurant which offered a meat free Cao lầu which was just a tasty as the pork version.
The dish is available all around Hoi An, try it in the local food market for less that $1 per dish!
Golabki from Poland
I grew up on Polish food and anytime I make Polish food it’s one of those comfort dishes for me. I don’t make the food that often but I do love how it tastes, reminds me of my childhood, homeland, and moms cooking. Most people when they think of Polish food think of pierogi (polish dumplings). They’re delicious and can sweet or savory.
But, you NEED to try Golabki. Golabki are stuffed cabbage rolls with an amazing tomato sauce. They are usually made from ground meat and rice but I personally love them veggie and substitute the meat for mushrooms. They’re then wrapped in cabbage and covered with a tomato (or mushroom) sauce. It’s one of my favorite dishes ever, and you need to try it.
Thai Massaman Curry
I’ve always been a huge fan of curry and I love the different variations it can have, ranging in flavors and countries. But I definitely fell in love with massaman curry when I was in Thailand.
I love all of the spices that are used in the curry and the different choices of meat you can have it with. I personally love the tofu or chicken curry. I love the combination of coconut with the spices that make the curry thick and so enjoyable. It’s a must try next time you’re in Thailand.
Hangi from New Zealand
New Zealand is an incredibly young country, and with over 70% of our population identifying as 'NZ European' our cuisines predominantly draw on our Anglo Saxon heritage - which only started 150 years ago. Thanks to that our just try kiwi dishes usually include things like Fish & Chips, Roast Lamb and 'the fresh fruit'. None of these are particularly kiwi when you think about it.
Although difficult to come by, my recommendation is always a hangi - a staple of New Zealand's Maori culture. It's a traditional method of cooking meat and vegetables with heated rocks buried in an earth pit. The cooking technique gives the meat a very distinctive earthy flavour and an incredible tenderness.
A hangi is now really only used for celebrations and takes almost a day to prepare. So unfortunately you won't be able to find it in a restaurant, but if you're lucky enough to get am invite from a local or spot a roadside hangi stall (yes really) it's definitely worth a try. As self confessed foodies (but not fancy foodies - more like try everything with carbs and cheese) we love to sample local foods wherever we go.
Selska Tava, Macedonia
Our most surprising and possibly favourite dish we have tried in our travels is Selska Tava (Village Meat) in Macedonia. A staple on every traditional menu it varies from place to place governed by the chefs taste and what is available. Basically though it's meat, onions, wine, mushrooms and cheese slow cooked in a hot pot and served with as much fresh bread as you can eat. Without a doubt the best place we are it in the two weeks we were in Macedonia was Via Sacra in Lake Ohrid. Most Balkan countries have variations of village meat but we definitely found Macedonia's to be the most flavoursome, rich and hearty.
Breakfast Tacos, Texas
I grew up in Texas which is known for its Tex-Mex cuisine. One of my favorite Tex-Mex dishes is breakfast tacos. Breakfast tacos are liked regular soft tacos but filled with scrambled eggs. Other common toppings are cheese, chorizo, bacon, brisket, potatoes, avocado, and salsa. It's actually pretty easy to make at home or if you are in Texas, my favorites are served at Taco Cabana and Torchy's Tacos.
Pie Floater - Adelaide
A must-try dish from back home in Adelaide is South Australia’s own “Pie Floater.” The taste of a pie floater brings back memories of heady nights in Adelaide and stopping, on the way home in the wee hours of the morning, at the pie cart outside the Adelaide Train Station.
So what is a pie floater? Pie floater is the name given to a traditional meat pie served in a bowl of pea soup. It is eaten as is or self garnished with tomato sauce, chilli sauce and vinegar.
The iconic Adelaide Pie Cart is no longer operating but there are several bakeries and restaurants that serve the pie floater around South Australia, Enjoy Bakery sells them 24/7. Or are very easy to make. I make them with a delicious thick pea and ham soup and a store bought meat pie. Quick, easy, yummy traditional South Australian food!
Choosing a favourite dish from a country we have visited was not easy, as there are so many to choose from… but we both decided on the “Laksa Sarawak”. We first had this laksa in Kuching, in the state of Sarawak, on the island of Borneo.
Laksa Sarawak is a bowl of noodles drenched in an piquant coconut milk soup, topped with shredded chicken, shredded omelette, bean sprouts, prawns, and garnished with coriander. It is usually eaten for breakfast but there are several food stalls, cafes and restaurants that serve it for lunch and dinner.
Our favourite Laksa Sarawak was at Ze` Kiosk on the waterfront. It was delicious and at only RM6.00 a bowl ($1.95 AUD) it is also deliciously cheap!
This expat living overseas in South Korea traveled extensively in Asia. Not very adventurous in the foods I eat but with a husband who loves to try everything made life interesting. Eating out in South Korea is a social affair where everyone sits around a cooking pot or BBQ grill to talk.
My favorite restaurant in South Korea was a BBQ place. Sitting can be on floor pillows or table with a vent above the cook top. Not fluent in Korean, we tried many of the meat options to BBQ.
The meat is cooked at the table by a guest. Lots of side dishes placed on the table that are added to the cooked meat which is wrapped in a leaf for eating. These side dishes include Kimchi, Garlic, Cabbage, Soybean Sprouts, Bean Sprouts, Spicy Cucumber salad and Chili paste. Everyone uses chopsticks, shares the yummy food, while laughing and talking. That’s why immersing myself into another culture is fun.
Returning back to the USA, one of my favorite places was a restaurant on Cabbage Key Island in Florida. This small island key is known for its cheeseburgers plus the place where Jimmy Buffett with Margaretville wrote the song “Cheeseburger in Paradise”. Since living overseas, this adventure traveler is now a vegan and I had to break the rules for a fabulous Cheeseburger whilst looking at the stunning view. I must say the Cheeseburger was so tasty at the Cabbage Key Island Inn & Bar which is accessible only by boat. Hope to see you there!
Canada is a very multicultural country and as such there are plenty of great eats. However, there aren’t too many dishes that are native to the country. Although one thing you have to try is our ever famous poutine.
What is it you ask? Take some deliciously crispy fries, add a handful or two of cheese curds, and top it off with some savoury gravy. You can also add other various toppings such as bacon, peppers, onions and more. One thing though, is that not any cheese curd will do - they have to squeak when you eat them. It sounds silly, but you’ll understand when you try it yourself! While you can get this dish across the country, the best place to grab it is in Québec.
While I’ve done a decent amount of travelling, one of the eats I always crave is Germany’s street treat - döner. This little treasure trove is not only delicious but is also easy on the wallet. Influenced by the Turkish kebab, it has since evolved into the dish it is today.
A pita is filled with shaved meat and topped with onions, lettuce, cabbage and more. The most important topping however is the Knoblauch Soße - garlic sauce. This dreamy creamy heaven ties the whole dish together. While each storefront has their own take on it, the best döner spot in Germany is Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebap in Berlin. There may be a bit of a wait but trust me, it’s worth it!
English Sunday Roast
Choosing my favourite food from my home country and from another around the world is not easy! But having spent a lot of my time out of the UK the one meal I really look forward to when I return is a good old fashioned Sunday Roast! My ideal Sunday Roast would consist of pork, roast potatoes, parsnips, peas, Brussel sprouts and my absolute favourite – at least 2 Yorkshire puddings!
Nothing sums up being back in the UK to me more than a family get together and a Sunday roast! I cooked it for my employers when I lived in France years ago and the Yorkshire pudding was not well received! Not sure if it was my cooking or their preference for bread to soak up the gravy (another essential on the plate!)
My favourite dish from abroad is South Africa’s national dish (and the meal chosen by the late Nelson Mandela as his favourite too) the BOBOTIE! It is a Cape Malay creation. Bobotie is a sweet curry based mince and fruit savoury dish topped with egg and served with rice, bananas, coconut and a healthy dollop of Mrs Ball’s chutney. It is the dish I always make any guests or visitors and it is always a hit. I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t love bobotie.
Have you tried any of these delicious foods? Which food makes your mouth water? Tell us in the comments section below ... is there another dish you consider to be the best food in the world?
Disclaimer: This post contains some affiliate links and, if you click through and make a purchase, it won't cost you anything, but FeetDoTravel may earn a small commission to keep us running for longer.
Book your next trip away with Booking.com! We always use booking.com for any pre-flight hotel, long weekend, staycation, or trip overseas. Visit our Hotel Booking Page and search as normal.