While eating your way from country to country, making the world a moveable feast, you’ll discover new treats everywhere. A word of advice in finding the best food wherever your travels take you– look for a long line of locals. Where there’s a line, there’s generally something worth waiting for. Our year of circling the globe has led to countless new food discoveries, some of which we can’t imagine life without. We’ve also rediscovered dishes done perfectly – treats it seems that no one else can replicate.
Though there have been many new flavors, our taste buds gravitated towards a few key dishes in every destination. These unique treats became regular parts of our diet, and the flavors now elicit memories from each country.
Here are a few of our our favorite eats found while traveling the world – unique food from 15 countries…
The consistency of this Japanese treat is hard to describe. Soft, squishy and similar to a sweet dumpling. Mochi is made from rice, which is steamed and pounded in a mortar until the sticky mass can be eaten. It is formed into various shapes, and wrapped around sweet or savory fillings. Some of our favorites were chocolate wrapped banana mocha, strawberry, and mochi grilled over a fire, covered with savory sauce.
THAILAND: Mango + Sticky Rice
Such a simple concept, yet the dish is probably my favorite, and always reminds me of our time in Thailand. Mangos are the most popular fruit in Thailand and are used in a variety of dishes, sweet and savory. The most common treat, whether it be for dessert or a simply snack, is a sweet, ripe mango served with a side of sticky rice, often drizzled with a mild, coconut sauce. Such a divine dish, and one that’s easy to enjoy daily!
In the South of France, we noticed street vendors with lines wrapped all the way around the block… all locals, waiting for one specific treat – Socca. We had never heard of this pancake-like dish, but learned that it dates back to the 1800s and claims origins in Nice. Made from chick-pea flower, it’s baked in a large ‘pie tin’ over a hot wooded fire. The crispy-edged, sweet and nutty, thin slices of Socca were well worth the wait!
Falafel is not a new food, but I can count on one hand how many times I’ve had great falafel. In Israel, it is all exceptionally delicious! Falafel is a deep-fried ball made from ground chickpeas and herbs. It is traditionally served wrapped in a pita, topped with salad. Proper falafel is crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. We ate unbelievable falafel on a daily basis in Israel, with the best found in Jerusalem.
AUSTRALIA: Tim Tams
This Australian cookie is not extraordinary to those who live down under… quite common actually. I like to think of Tim Tams as an equivalent to Oreos in the U.S. – a delicious treat that is best enjoyed if eaten in a specific way. A Tim Tam is a chocolate biscuit, coated in chocolate… nothing special, until you learn the proper way to enjoy! Biting holes on opposite corners of the Tim Tam, one end is submerged into a hot beverage (we preferred tea), and the Tim Tam is used as a straw. Eventually the crisp interior of the biscuit is softened, and the outer chocolate coating begins to melt… at which point you pop that sweet, melty treat in your mouth. It’s delightful!
Italian for ‘little pizzas’ – these don’t need a lot of explanation. In Italy, they do pizza best, and they’ve even perfected the art of pizza for breakfast. The dough is flakier, more similar to a pastry dough, making these bite-sized breakfast treats a perfect way to start your morning in Italia.
Borek seems to be the Turkish version of pies – baked pastries made of thin, flakey phyllo dough, and filled with a wide variety of savory or sweet ingredients. They are typically sprinkled with sesame seeds before baking. Borek became a regular treat for us while living in Turkey – with so many options, it’s hard to grow tired of this delicious dish!
VIETNAM: Dragon Fruit
A standard side dish served with a Vietnamese breakfast – dragon fruit is a vibrant, funky looking fruit with a mild, sweet taste. The tiny seeds provide a unique texture, similar to a kiwi.
I am quite naive to have thought that I’d had strudel before visiting Austria. Not even close. Our time living in Vienna was an opportunity to rediscover strudel done right – sticky, sweet, flaky Austrian strudel. I dream about it often.
Perhaps you’ve had tortilla, a Spanish omelet made with eggs and potato, but this dish becomes part of a daily routine when living in Spain. We started almost every morning with tortilla, and ordered it as a side to most dinners. The other dishes that compliment a meal may change, but the delicious tortilla remains consist – it’s the perfect complement!
BELGIUM: Moules + Frites
The national dish of Belgium, and for good reason – they do it better than anywhere else in the world. While there are different ways to prepare this dish, moules mariniere are the most popular (and my favorite), with white wine, shallots, parsley and butter used to cook the mussels in a large pot. The sauce is perfect for dipping frites 🙂
Greeks love their pies, and you can find them in all shapes and sizes, savory or sweet, with thin pastry phyllo-sheets or crumbly, richer and thicker ones. On some days I would have a sausage pie for breakfast, chicken pie for lunch and Spanakopita (spinach pie) for dinner. Probably not the healthiest diet, but hey… when in Greece 😉
This Dutch snack typically contains beef or veal, finely cut vegetables and other ingredients that are combined, battered in breadcrumbs and deep-fried. Served with a few dipping sauces, it’s the perfect pub-snack to compliment a round of beers – our Amsterdam go-to!
HONG KONG: Pork Buns
There are two major types of ‘Bao’ (buns) – baked and steamed. Both superb when filled with barbecue- pork. We prefer the unique texture of the steamed buns, which are a bit sweet and sticky. Buns are typically serviced as a type of ‘dim sum’ or sold in Chinese bakeries – they are perfect for a snack at any time of day, or as a compliment to breakfast, lunch and dinner.
We call these ‘Thai Crepes’ – though they are dough (not batter) we find them somewhat similar to crepes in how they’re served. They can be thin and a bit crispy or thick and chewy, with both savory and sweet options available. The bread used originates from India, but in Thailand is commonly filled with egg, banana, Nutella, and anything else you can imagine.
Of all the fantastic foods in Germany, I will miss this prevalent cheese the most. Quark is similar to a cottage cheese, but it’s creamy and sweet. To me it taste like a mild, more crumbly cream cheese, and is perfect for cheese cake and ice cream, to fill pastries, top salads and sandwiches… anything really. You can’t go wrong with Quark.
We’d love to hear some of your favorite foods from around the world! Leave a comment below, and let us know what to try next….Eat well. Travel often.Click To Tweet