One of the great pleasures of travel is experiencing the local culture and immersing yourself in the life of the locals. One of the best ways to get a true (literal) taste of local life is to try their traditional culinary wares and gastronomy delights. Here, we explore ten foods from around the world you simply have to sample (and not in a pokey pop-up Shoreditch restaurant at 25 times the price).
Lobster dinners have become the very epitome of culinary class and sophistication, with innumerate high-end restaurants around the world claiming to be finest purveyors of the crustacean. The state of Maine in the US has a more authentic claim than most to the world’s tastiest lobster, with the largest member of the species being indigenous to the area. The Maine Lobster Festival is an annual gathering of lobster lovers and skilled chefs, all there to cook and eat lobster.
The classic street food of Vietnam, Pho is a noodle-based soup including many variations of meat, herbs and vegetables. Although Pho is increasingly popular throughout the western world, the authentic Pho experience is from a street vendor in Vietnam. Delicious, filling and affordable, a round of Pho for the full family from a street vendor will only set you back a few Vietnamese Dong.
Deal: Far East Discovery
The Basque variation of Tapas; Pintxos are available in many of the region’s bars and cafes. The social food is traditionally made to share amongst friends and family over a few drinks. Freshly-produced and spiked by skewers – the Pintxos is traditionally made up of a small slice of bread topped with fish, seafood or meat. Café Bar Bilbao is recognised as serving some of the Basque’s finest Pintxos.
Deal: Tipples and Tapas
Little Owl Burgers
Before you recoil, there are no owls in the burgers at the New York eatery. The Little Owl is only ornithological in name, producing burgers and meals made from more traditional ingredients. Located in Greenwich Village, New York, the restaurant epitomises neighbourhood eating providing warming and homely favourites with delicious Mediterranean inspiration.
Deal: Roundtrip Transatlantic
The only sweet dish on this list; macaroons are the very epitome of decadence. The meringue-like pastries held by ganache filling, available in all colours, have been enchanting visitors to Paris for just shy of 100 years. The original M Ladurée bakery is still as popular today with visitors to the capital of romance as it was in 1930 when the founder’s grandson first developed the macaroon.
Deal: Royal Experience
Beef from the city of Kobe in Japan is widely regarded as the world’s finest thanks largely to the unique treatment of the cows. The beef is well-regard for the flavour, tenderness and beautifully-marbled texture. The mountainous terrain of Japan makes it difficult to raise cattle so farmers in the region of Kobe go to great lengths to ensure their flocks are well looked after – even providing their cattle with holistic massages and diets including beer.
Deal: China and Japan
The eponymous Jiro has become so famous for his sushi that his restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro was the focus of the 2011 documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi. With three Michelin stars and celebrity fans including president Obama, the Tokyo sushi restaurant has developed a reputation for producing the world’s finest sushi. Octogenarian chef Jiro still oversees operations, ensuring his chefs are still producing culinary delights to his own high standards.
Deal: Singapore to Tokyo
A world away from greasy takeaway pizzas and the cheese covered cardboard which make up the majority of frozen variations; pizza from Naples is the original and the best. The Antica Pizzeria Da Michele is famous throughout the city for its traditional approach to producing authentic Neapolitan pizza. Still today, the restaurant only serves two types of pizza – the Marinara and the Margherita.
Deal: Western Mediterranean
Hong Kong Dim Sum
Dim Sum has played a key role in the development of Asia and China in particular, being synonymous with the Silk Road trade route. Travellers would rest up after a long day transporting goods for a small basket of steamed dim sum. Today, Hong Kong is arguably the finest purveyor of dim sum with Luk Yu Tea House on the island state widely regarded as producing the finest incarnations in the world.
Deal: Hong Kong to Singapore
A Little Bit of Everything
The Greeks are well known for their love of slow, relaxed dining – taking hours to indulge in a meal, wine and conversation with friends and family. This led to the birth of Mezedhes, a selection of courses and dishes ranging from salads to bread courses to rich meat and fish stews. The old town of capital city, Athens, is rife with fantastic restaurants, serving Meze dishes until patrons are well and truly satisfied.
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Images sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Credits: Garry Knight, Valerie Hinjosa, thatwelike, Jeremy Keith, stu_spivack, Robyn Lee, Maarten Heerlien, torbakhopper, Roland Tanglao, Hisakazu Watanabe, Ewan Munro