“There is no love sincerer than the love of food.”
― George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman
This page of the website celebrates one of my greatest and truest loves… good food! Traveling can also be a tremendous culinary adventure if you let it. People often say, truly experiencing a place means trying its local cuisine. By “local” they don’t mean a dish served at a city’s tourist trap restaurants, but rather something like a popular street food, whipped up by a vendor in a night market at 4am. I always say, “whats the harm in giving it a try?”. So i recommend an open mind, an accepting palette and a strong stomach, for all those who would love to embrace the local culture of a place through its food. Here are my favorites from my culinary adventures:
Canada and North America
Alberta Steak, Alberta, Canada
Some of the best beef in the world is known to come from Alberta State, in Canada. A traditionally prepared steak is a must try.
Often mistaken to have originated from the German city of Hamburg (from which it borrows its name), the first hamburger was actually created in New Haven, Connecticut. It is a sandwich usually consisting of a minced meat patty inside a round bread bun. It is served in various versions, with various garnishes all over the USA.
Hot dog, USA
In the world capital of fast food, this dish is king. Served at nearly every street corner, a hot dog is a sausage served in a sliced long soft bun. It is often garnished with ketchup, mayo, mustard, relish, onions, cheese and chili. Although the sausage (frankfurter) is originally a German concept, serving it in a dinner roll originated in Coney Island.
It is a wheat flour tortilla that is wrapped into a cylindrical shape to enclose ingredients. Like a taco only closed. Usually has rice, refried beans, meats, vegetables, cheese and sauces. A complete meal in a snack.
A gordita is a deep-fried Spanish corn cake, made with maize flour dough and puffed with heat. It is stuffed, like a pita, with a variety of delicious fillings from chorizo, minced meat and cheese to vegetables, guacamole and chillies .
A delicious avocado based dipping sauce from the Aztec time. Flavored with onions, garlic, sea salt, tomatoes, lime juice, traditional seasoning and chillies. It is served with nearly every meal.
A Traditional Mexican dish, which is now popular word over. It is a corn flour or wheat tortilla, either deep-fried crispy or soft. The tortilla is folded in half or laid flat and is filled/topped with a variety of fillings like meats, vegetables and beans, and garnished with sauces (like salsa, habanero & guacamole).
Acai Berry Slushie, Brazil
Juice bars are to Rio like Starbucks is to Manhattan. They are everywhere. Popular juice chains serve acai berry slushies. Acai is a fruit native to Central and South America and is popularly known for its immense health benefits.
Bahain Muqueca, Brazil
Originally from Bahia, Brazil, this dish is served in many variants today. It is essentially a seafood stew, made in a traditional clay pan, with palm oil, fish, clams, prawns etc. Onions, tomatoes, chives, chillies and seasoning herbs are uses for flavoring and garnishing. The Bahain version uses coconut milk (if you are not a fan of coconut milk try the muqueca capixaba).
Brazil’s national cocktail. Made from Cachaca (sugar cane rum- brazil’s most distilled alchoholic beverage), lime and sugar. Delicious!
Coca tea, Peru
Only legal in Peru, Bolivia, Columbia and Ecuador, this tea is made from coca leaves. The alkaloids found in coca plants are also used to make the illegal drug cocaine. The tea however is safe, and has no known scientific evidence to link it to addiction. It can be decocanized. It is bitter sweet in flavor like green tea and has many medicinal values. It works wonders for altitude sickness.
A popular seafood dish from the costal regions of Central and South America. It is made of raw fish marinated in citrusy flavors and juices with spices, onions and chillies. It is often accompanied by sweet corn, sweet potato, lettuce, avocado or plantain.
Pisco sour, Peru
A cocktail typical of Peru. Made from pisco liquor, lime, sugar syrup and egg whites. Variations include the addition of fruits (like pineapple) and plants (like mint or coca)
Sacher torte, Austria
The ultimate chocolate cake! Invented for a prince in Austria, this uber rich pastry is Vienna’s most famous culinary specialty. It is made of 2 layers of dense chocolate sponge cake with a layer of apricot jam in between. It is then covered with rich dark chocolate icing and served with whipped cream (and ice cream if you wish).
Cornish pasty, England
A personal favorite, for a quick snack, during my time spent in London. The Cornish pasty originated in Cornwall England. The dish has protected geographical indication status in Europe. It is a semi circular baked pastry, which is filled before cooking, traditionally with minced meat. Popular varieties today include everything from a chicken tikka to a mushroom and cheese filling.
Crepes are very thin pancakes made from pouring a flour batter on to a flat round hot plate. They can be both savory and sweet with a number of fillings such as strawberries, banana, chocolate, whipped cream, chicken, ham, eggs etc. I prefer the sweet ones!
Germany’s original fast food dish, Currywurst is essentially steam- fried pork cut into slices topped with curry ketchup. Served in different versions from street corners to restaurants its rare to see a German menu without it. The Volkswagen plant at Wolfsburg runs its own butchery producing 3.5 million Currywursts per year, serving 1.6m to Volkswagen employees (according to Wikipedia)
Known as brezel in Germany, this baked bread is just as popular in the USA. It is made from dough and is baked into a soft or hard form. It is made in both sweet and savory flavors.
Chimney cake, Hungary
Chimney cake is a cylindrical, sugary roll made of baked dough covered in sugar, walnuts, coconut and countless other toppings. It peels off in a spiral as you eat it.
Tribute must be paid to what is now one of the world’s most popular forms of ice cream. Traditional gelato is made from milk and eggs and contains no cream. It can be found in 100’s of flavors but make sure you are trying the real thing and not a pre-made commercial versions.
A sugar sprinkled, deep-fried pastry (tastes a lot like a doughnut). Served with dipping sauces and cinnamon.
Asia (not including The Indian Sub-continent)
My absolute favorite! A bao is a steamed or baked bun with a meat filling. It is soft like a pillow and melts in one’s mouth. It is said, to have been invented by Chinese soldiers, who used it during wars as an easy-to-make-and-eat form of sustenance.
Spring roll, China
A deep fried roll type appetizer. The outer casing made from rice paper, is usually fried or steamed. Inside it is filled with everything from chicken and shrimp to veggies and fruit.
Phad thai, Thailand
Although it originated from Vietnam, the Thai have really made this dish theirs. It comprises of stir-fried rice noodles (Pho noodles) and has eggs, fish sauce, tamarind juice, chili pepper, bean sprouts, shrimp or chicken. It is garnished with Thai condiments such as crushed peanuts, coriander, lime, chili powder etc). It is listed at number 5 on World’s 50 most delicious foods readers’ poll compiled by CNN Go in 2011.
Phat kaphrao, Thailand
Thai style stir fired meat with basil and chilies in a spicy, tangy fish sauce. Usually served with steamed rice.
Som Tum, Thailand
Also known as green papaya salad this is a spicy salad made from shredded green papayas. Lime, chili, salt and savory fish sauce are pounded together and added to the shredded papaya. It is garnished with peanuts.
The Indian Sub-continent
Bhel puri, India
A savory Indian snack from the “ chaat” family. It is made from hot puffed rice grains mixed with onions, tomatoes, boiled potatoes, raw mango, tangy tamarind sauce and spicy mint and coriander chutney. It is topped off with sev a fried mini noodle type snack made from gram flour. Widely sold on the streets of India.
Corn on the cob Indian style. Cooked on a traditional coal, open oven. Served with the husk, rubbed with chili powder and lime
An Indian version of the crepe, made from a fermented rice batter. It is only served in a savory form. It can be had plain or with various types of fillings. It is accompanied by sambhar (a lentil soup) or coconut chutney.
Kathi rolls, India
A Street food which originated in Kolkata, Kathi rolls are now popular world over. It essentially is meat (usually cooked in a tandoor oven) or vegetables wrapped in paratha (Indian tortilla type bread made from flour).
Meetha Pan, India
Considered a palette cleanser/sweetener to be had after meals. It is a betel leaf (pan) filled with coconut, fruit preserves, rose petal preserves and spices. The sweet version usually contains no tobacco and therefore is preferred by most.
Pani puri, India
A member of the “chaat” family. Originally from the streets of Bihar, it consists of a round, hollow, fried, crispy puri (gram flour based bread puff), which is filled with black gram, boiled sprouts, potatoes and tamarind and mint-coriander water. Many variants exist depending on which part of the country you are in, but they are all delicious.
India’s most popular snack. It is a fried pastry in a conical shape, filled with potatoes, onions and peas mashed together with chili, salt and pepper. Many variations exist.
Sev puri, India
Another savory Indian snack from the “ chaat” family. It is made on a puri (a fried disc of flour), which is loaded with onions, tomatoes, boiled potatoes, raw mango, tangy tamarind sauce and spicy mint and coriander chutney. It is topped off with sev a fried mini noodle type snack made from gram flour. Widely sold on the streets of Mumbai, India.
Vada pav, India
A Mumbai fast food favorite. It consists of a fried potato fritter (vada), in a square piece of flour bread (pav) cut in the middle. The sandwich type dish is served with raw chillies or chilly garlic powder on the inside. You could also eat it with spicy coriander chutney.
Hope you enjoy these as i continue to add more….Please add your own recommendations on more local cuisines, to these, by commenting on this page. It is will help me and other readers of the blog to continue our culinary explorations.
“Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the ‘Titanic’ who waved off the dessert cart.” ― Erma Bombeck