There’s no better way to get to know a culture than through its cuisine. One of the great joys of traveling around the world is sampling the diverse varieties of foods available globally. Some are already international favorites, but are best eaten on their home soil. Others are a little more obscure and can open you up to a whole new set of flavors and cuisine.
Pho – Vietnam
The popularity of this ubiquitous clear broth Vietnamese soup has surged in major cities all over the world in recent years. However, the bustling streets of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are still your best bet when it comes to scoring truly authentic pho. At its core, the flavourful dish consists of broth mixed with rice noodles and chicken or beef. What takes pho to the next level is the addition of a slew of fresh herbs, spices and fish sauce.
Shepherd’s Pie – England
This delicious meat pie consists of ground lamb (or beef in the cottage pie version) topped with mashed potatoes and baked ’till crispy. Simple, straightforward and delectable, this staple meal has fed hungry British farmers for centuries and can now be found at gastropubs all around the country.
Pulled Pork – United States of America
Slow cooked pork left to bask in the heat until it is pull-apart-tender. It doesn’t get much better than this. Pull into practically any roadside stand in the American South or Midwest and you’ll be able to sink your teeth into this delectable and succulent BBQ specialty. Put it in a sandwich; douse it with hot sauce, or both.
Sushi – Japan
Few dishes have been as strongly tied to any one nation as sushi is with Japan. This rice, raw fish and seaweed medley is also one of the few dishes on the list to fall on the healthier side of the food spectrum. Unlike the supermarket takeaway varieties found around the world, the Japanese take their sushi seriously and are not only experts at preparing it, but also take great pride in selecting on the finest ingredients for their rolls.
Maafe – Mali
What’s good on the menu in Mali? That would be maafe. This traditional dish is popular throughout West and Central Africa, and travellers to the region tend to rely on it as their staple food. At its base, maafe is a sauce made from ground nuts and is mixed with beef or various other types of meat.
Sauerbraten – Germany
In popular culture Germany and sausage (“wurst”) have almost become synonymous. While Germany does love its sausages, world travelers would get a better feel for the nation’s cuisine by ordering sauerbraten. Sauerbraten is a German pot roast made from beef marinated for days in vinegar or wine. The result is soft and succulent meat that is typically served alongside potato dumplings or noodles.
Bibimbap – South Korea
A piping hot bowl of bibimbap is the best way to heat up after a long day in cold Korea. The dish starts with a pile of white rice and is then topped with sauteed vegetables, sliced marinated meat (typically beef) and a raw egg. Served hot, you stir the contents of the bowl to cook the egg and create a heavenly marriage of savory flavors.
If you’re embarking on a round the world flight, the best thing you can do is keep an open mind. Be adventurous and use it as an opportunity to try all sorts of new things, including food. Observe locals, see what they’re ordering and avoid tourist-laden haunts serving bland food stuffs if you can.
Jill Douglas is a freelance writer and passionate foodie.