Traveling the world allows you to immerse yourself in unfamiliar culture. One of the countless alluring aspects of exploring new places is feasting upon the local cuisine. From sweet and spicy, to savory, or just plain obscure, every corner of the world offers a unique palette of foods sure to make your mouth water. Make your memories abroad even better with these 15 unbelievable meals.
Australian breakfasts are where hearty and healthy find the perfect balance. With foods such as thick-sliced, flavorful bacon, muesli (textured oats topped with fresh fruits and nuts), green juices, coconut yogurt, toast (like, lots of toast, generally topped with mashed avocado), eggs and beans, it’s impossible to walk away from an Aussie brekkie unsatisfied. The plates are loaded, but with local ingredients and plenty of greens, you can’t feel too guilty about calorie intake. The perfect fuel for a day of hiking in the mountains or surfing at the beach, this iconic feast is a must in the land of Oz.
BULGARIA: SHOPSKA SALAD
I don’t normally consider a salad a meal, but when it’s Shopska? Yea, OK, I can make a meal of that. This Balkan masterpiece is comprised with other delicious, locally grown veggies—including cucumber, peppers, and onion—and is served cold. But the real star of the dish is its cheese. Bulgarian people value their goats and cows, and the cheeses produced are arguably the freshest, creamiest in the world. Non-feta-lovers are sure to convert, since Bulgaria’s feta is a very different texture. Crumbles of Bulgarian dairy make the ideal topping to any dish.
No, really. If you like soft shell crab, you’ll love tarantula. If you can look beyond the creepy crawly, crunchy exterior, the inner flavor is oddly familiar and delicious. If buying from a street vendor sketches you out, check out Phnom Penh’s famed restaurant, Romdeng, which serves the delicacy on a plate with extraordinary dipping sauces.
It might not be healthy, but goodness, it’s delicious. French fries loaded with cheese curds and gravy? Holy yum. This French-Canadian classic is served anywhere from fast-food chains to five-star restaurants, varying in cheese and gravy flavors. If made the “right” way, the made-from-scratch gravy bursts with flavor, and the fresh cheese curds melt perfectly into the pores of the hand-cut potato skins. Don’t shy away from the latest variations, sometimes including shredded froie gras or duck—or those with sweet potato fries as a base. Basically, if you’re in Canada, try poutine at every place you go. The five extra pounds you come home with are totally worth it!
CHINA: PEKING DUCK
This Beijing dish was first prepared during the imperial era Yuan Dynasty in 1271. The meat is characterized by a thin, crisp outer skin, as well as an overall tenderness. Ducks bred specifically for this meal are slaughtered after 65 days and seasoned before being roasted in an oven. And if the meat alone wasn’t enough, the accompanying sauces give it that extra bang!
This concoction of sugar, honey, eggs, and almonds is extremely popular among Germans and tourists alike. Not at all overrated, marzipan is famous for a reason: it’s damn good. The almond paste is used in a variety of ways: topping on cakes, in icings, chocolate-stuffers, you name it. Sometimes marzipan can be made with different nuts, such as pistachios or hazelnuts. Most commonly, the creamy dessert is found in the candy aisle, where you can buy chocolate brands like Lübecker, which are made up of 66 percent almonds.
INDIA: MASALA DOSA
While buttered chicken, fluffy naan, and you-name-it curries are impeccable, the masala dosa is a must-try Indian snack. This crisp, savory baked dough is fermented overnight for texture and a bitter flavor. Traditionally, dosas are stuffed with a spicy potato filling at breakfast or lunch and served with chutney.
IRELAND (AND SCOTLAND): “BANGERS AND MASH”
An icon of the British Isles, sausage and mashed potatoes—known as “bangers and mash”—makes for a nourishing, unbeatable combo. Sausages are made with various meats, including lamb, chicken, duck or pork. Accompanies with chunky, buttery potatoes and a savory gravy glaze, it’s a great feast to have out at a pub with friends.
It’s cliché for a reason. Gelato from Whole Foods just doesn’t cut it. I’m not sure how the Italians do it, but authentic gelato is perfectly churned to produce a fluffy, smooth texture. After you’ve had your other Italian standards (i.e. margherita pizza, garlic bread, spaghetti with meatballs, and any other carb-loaded platter), grab a scoop (or two or three) at a patio shop.
In Japan, sushi is not just a delicious meal of raw fish and sticky rice. It’s an art. Around the world, sushi is fundamentally different than its original intent. For this reason, when you eat at an authentic sushi restaurant in Japan (many of them have converted to a more Western approach), you’ll notice an extremely different atmosphere, with a very communicative su chef and a contrasting etiquette. Additionally, things just seem to flow differently: ordering numerous rolls is known to degrade the meal, and mixing wasabi and soy sauce defeats the purpose. When in Japan, eat like the locals—not just for the unbeatable sushi, but for the dining experience that comes with it.
MEXICO: CARNE ASADA
Mexican restaurants are everywhere in the states, but very few do justice to truly authentic Mexican cuisine. Loaded with flavorful spices and flavors, any meal in Mexico is sure to blow your mind. From street tacos, to seafood platters, to tequilas, true Mexican dining is some of the best in the world. Especially when you’re used to having Taco Bell and ripped-off versions of queso burritos. One of the most famous dishes is carne asada, which features grilled and sliced beef, with a hint of charred flavor. Topped with cilantro, lime, pepper, and garlic, this meaty dish is undoubtedly one for the books.
SCOTLAND (AND IRELAND): BLOOD PUDDING
The fish n’ chips are to die for (both here and in Ireland), but blood pudding is one of those “When in Scotland” type of foods. You’ve just got to try it. If you don’t know what it is, you’re more likely to try it. That said, the title kind of give it away. Indeed, blood pudding is solidified pig’s blood, and oatmeal. Generally served in the form of a patty, blood pudding is typically a breakfast dish, accompanied by beans, eggs, and bacon.
SOUTH AFRICA: BILTONG
Bring on the meat. This one’s not for you, vegetarians. Ostrich, kudu, crocodile, antelope, you name it, the gamey meats here are delectable. However, biltong is arguably the best. Some may describe it as a type of jerky, but it’s much better! Softer in texture, and not quite as chewy, biltong is similar to a juicy steak—yet portable and fed with fingers. Sometimes served with dried fruits, roasted macadamias, and beer, it’s a South African staple that you just can’t turn down.
Yellow, red, green, massaman, you name it. Curry in Thailand is hands down the best. Packed with flavor and spices, these creamy coconut stew-like sauces are poured out over different veggies, meats, and rice—always rice. Massaman is my personal favorite, which is made with coconut cream, fish sauce, tamarind paste, and sugars, topped with potatoes, peanuts, and assorted mild vegetables.
This noodle soup consists of a mild, yet semi-tangy broth, long noodles called bahn pho, herbs, and meat—typically beef or pork. Some of its spices include cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and coriander, and the bone broth is generally made from gelatin-filled knuckle for flavor. Too much marrow can make the broth consistency seem greasy, but the perfect amount creates a smooth, silky texture. Marinated onion and ginger give an extra zing. Top your pho with spiced chili, bean sprouts, lime, and cilantro for added taste.