Food Worth Traveling For
We all have our favorite local eateries and go-to home-cooked meals. Whether it’s your local sushi spot or chicken n dumplings the way momma used to make it, we all can agree that food is bring people together. There’s something magical about a bowl of chili on a cold winter evening or hotdog at a baseball game. What’s even better, is sharing a genuine cultural experience while traveling. We’ve found to make the best out of any traveling is to get in good with the locals.
If you live in a major city, many of the dishes on this list might be available around town. However, there’s no substitution for the freshness and the cultural experience of eating pho in Vietnam, poke in Hawaii, or peppered mutton in India. So, sit back, relax and embark on this culinary journey around the globe to find the best foods worth traveling for. Pick your next destination and grab a language book to brush up on your skills to make the most of your next international dinner plans.
1. Pho (Vietnam)
Pho, typically pronounced fuh, is a delicious Vietnamese noodle soup made with rice noodles, spices, beef broth, vegetables, and assorted meats. Pho restaurants are very popular in the US, but there’s no substitute for the experience of eating Pho in Vietnam. Many of the ingredients are native to the surrounding countries in Asia. That means the freshness can’t be rivaled. With so many Pho places to choose from in Vietnam, the best way to filter through the choices is by speaking Vietnamese with a local to find the most authentic spots. The best Pho places will be off the beaten paths and aren’t likely to have Vietnamese translations on the menu.
2. Poke (Hawaii)
You’ll be saying Mahalo after realizing that poke in Hawaii is not only better than what you can get on the mainland, but that there’s no comparing the views while you dine. Pronounced po-kay, this dish is thinly sliced raw fish served over rice, with vegetables and flavorful sauces. You might not need to speak Hawaiian to find a poke place on the islands, but knowing some traditional Hawaiian or Pidgin will get you in good with the locals and can get you better service, larger portions, and you won’t be paying tourist prices.
3. Pepper mutton (India)
Pepper mutton is self-explanatory, unless you don’t know what mutton is. In which case, Mutton is lamb. Stick with us here, this is such a flavorful and rich dish we’re positive you’ll forget any hang-ups you might have about eating lamb. Traditional Indian spices in just the right ratio is what’s key to the best Mutton, but those recipes are closely guarded secrets. That’s why learning a bit of Hindi is ideal if you’re traveling in India. There could be no better experience than being invited into a local home for authentic pepper mutton.
4. Kebab (Israel)
Kebabs are normally seasoned meat grilled on a skewer, though the skewer is not always necessary. The relative simplicity of kebabs has resulted in variations of traditional middle eastern kebabs worldwide. It’s time to go back to the kebab’s roots and experience firsthand what a kebab is meant to be. Though there are countless countries in the Middle East to enjoy kebabs, Israel is at the top our list because if the history, beauty and culture that can’t be found anywhere else. Hebrew and Arabic are the most widely spoken languages in Israel, so for an authentic experience it would be wise to pick up some of either language when traveling, if for nothing more than to just say “thanks for the delicious kebab.”
5. Dim Sum (Hong Kong)
Dim Sum is gaining popularity in the US, but it can’t compare to Dim Sum in Hong Kong. Much of the Dim Sum in America has been slightly altered for the American palette. We think that’s a crime! When in Hong Kong there are so many Dim Sum options that it can feel overwhelming and although Yelp and Google can help you find the highly rated tourist spots, knowing some Cantonese will help you even more. Personally, we’ve eaten at the high-end expensive restaurants in the financial district and the “hole-in-the-wall” spots in Tseun Wan. They are both worth experiencing.
6. Ratatouille (France)
Made famous by a Disney movie, Ratatouille is a stewed vegetable dish. It’s a complicated dish to get right, without over or under-cooking the vegetables. Not that you need many more reasons to travel to France, but the local cuisine is famous world-over. Another thing the French are famous for is their dislike for people who don’t attempt to speak in French first. So, picking up a little French vocabulary before you embark will make your whole trip more enjoyable and hopefully lead you to the best Ratatouille in France.
7. Suya (Nigeria)
Suya is the Nigerian Kebab, typically spicy and made with meat or innards. It’s a mixture of traditional kebab and satay, with a spicy peanut seasoning. Suya is more of a street food, so navigating a Hausa or Yoruba menu might not be necessary. Street vendors are often the best value in food when traveling, especially in Nigeria, but a nice sit down restaurant can be an enjoyable cultural experience where knowing the Hausa will come in handy.
8. Pierogi (Poland)
A Polish dumpling, or ravioli, depending on who you ask; Pierogi’s (pronounced pih-ro-ghee) are either pan-fried or boiled. Pierogi fillings vary, but potatoes and quark (curdled milk) are a staple ingredient. There are dozens, if not more, variations of Pierogis and everyone and their babcia (grandmother) thinks they have the best. What we do know is that to find the best Pierogi in Poland, you’ll want a little Polish language under your belt.
9. Massaman Curry (Thailand)
One of the milder curries you can get, Massaman Curry is a rich mixture of spices and peppers. Coconut milk, cardamom, anise, lemongrass, white pepper, and shallots are just a handful of the flavor profiles you should get with a good Massaman Curry. Whether you’re traveling to Bangkok, Phuket, or Pa Tong; understanding the Thai language is going to help with your travels and your dining experiences.
10. Cacoila (Portuguese)
Cacoila, pronounced Kay-Sho-la, isn’t as popular as dishes like Caldo Verde or Bacalhau, but trust us it’s just as good. This aromatic pulled pork dish is slow cooked to tender perfection. Unlike pulled pork at an American BBQ restaurant, Cacoila is less bold and rich, but manages to be extremely flavorful. Visit Portugal for beautiful coastlines, breathtaking architecture, and friendly locals. Enjoy your trip by picking up a few essential Portuguese phrases or go all out and learn Portuguese to find the best Cacoila in Portugal.